Elijah (Twisted Web, #2), H L Night
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Publisher: Self Published
Tags: Dark, Psychological, Gay Genre Fiction, Series. **TW: Twisted Romance. Physical and Sexual Violence. Non-Con. Weaponised Snakes.
Length: 264 Pages
Purchase At: amazon
Some people are players. Others are simply caught up in the game.
Elijah Page has undergone a metamorphosis. It may not have been of his own doing, but he’s happy with the end result. Therefore, when he’s abducted by a shadowy organization, he’s not about to take anything at face value. Who are they? What do they really want from him? And how much of what they’re telling him is the truth, particularly when it comes to Shai? They say they want to help him, to bring the old Elijah back, but that man’s long dead. Isn’t he?
Shai isn’t a man used to being outwitted. Nobody takes what belongs to him and gets away with it. But as the trail grows ever colder, and his fury grows, is he still making the right decisions? Or has Elijah’s presence in his life left him with a weakness that those who oppose him are only too willing to exploit?
Ex-military man Dale Miller is no stranger to unusual jobs, but this one seems more complicated than most. He doesn’t look at Elijah and see a killer. He sees an attractive man who’s been through hell and deserves protection. And he just might be the man for the job. Shai or no Shai.
Everyone’s got secrets. But who’s lying and who’s telling the truth? And how far are they prepared to go to get what they want?
There can be only one winner.
A dark mm romantic suspense featuring a psychopathic main character, a relationship that may not be the healthiest, and even more twists and turns.
This book follows on from Shai, which was part of the Malicious God’s series. It is strongly recommended that you read that one first. Please check trigger warnings before reading.
I thought Shai would be a deliciously dark and twisted one-off in an interlinked but different authors series, however here we are, saying hi to Elijah and Shai again.
This is a hard book to review without spoilers, and I won’t be adding any, but my overall thoughts and the basic concept is below. I also believe reading this book will be enhanced by not knowing spoilers prior.
Elijah is now well and truly the property of Shai, Deadwood’s kingpin/crime-lord/all around psychopath/lover of snakes. Elijah’s place beside Shai definitely took an upward trajectory after Elijah dispatched the competition in Deadwood at the end of book #1, Shai. From drowned rat to brutal and non-consensual lover to partner and confidante, it’s been quite the complex and fraught journey for Elijah. That journey continues here in this unexpected sequel to one of my books of 2021.
Told from three POV, Elijah’s, Shai’s and newcomer Dale Miller’s, Elijah is delivered in a non-linear narrative, before and after the kidnapping of Elijah Page. The before sections set the tone, allowing the reader an insight into Elijah’s continued time spent as Shai’s partner. This book takes place a year after the conclusion of Shai, and Elijah is well and truly ensconced as Shai’s partner in crime, literally and metaphorically. So there are gaps filled-in about what life with psychopathic Shai has looked like for Elijah past the last book, which was the ‘meet and greet’ book for Elijah and Shai. And that ‘meet and greet’ was awfully dark. However, when Elijah and a couple of Shai’s men are out for a planned meeting, Elijah is snatched off the street.
After the event, we get to see how Shai is feeling present day, which is post kidnapping, and his memories of time spent prior with Elijah. His investment in him. Shai doesn’t like what’s his being stolen, he doesn’t share. He doesn’t like not having Elijah there to fuck and play with psychologically when and how he wants. He appears to be going down a destructive path once Elijah is taken, fighting for turf he’s never been interested in before, having Taylor, his right hand man, questioning him, well, as much as anyone can question Shai and still breathe.
Meanwhile, we also get Elijah’s experiences pre-kidnapping and during his time being held. Two psychologists, the less we speak about them the better because it’s puff psychology, and one military observer, Dale Miller, tell Elijah they are here to help him. Basically, it appears that they are sent to deprogramme him, although they don’t use that actual word, they don’t really do anything positive in that direction. What they do, is ask a lot of questions over multiple weeks about Shai, about Elijah and Shai, and occasionally show Elijah a picture or two meant to cause a psychological or kind of neurobiological juxtaposition… uh…no. Dale shows his hand early in the piece, that he’s gay, and that he’s interested in the very attractive Elijah. Can Elijah use that to his advantage and find out what’s going on, and who’s behind this situation? Could Elijah actually come to the genuine conclusion that Shai is vicious and not the forever type and Dale might just offer him something else? Something better? That Elijah is living a life of Stockholm syndrome, a pawn of a sick man? There is a relational interplay between a number of the characters that are twisty and chaotic and interesting to watch. While there are extra bits and pieces that were unexpected, I had a strong idea of what was going on in the story, although I also took into account that no one is what I would call a reliable narrator in this series, it fits the characters perfectly.
While it isn’t absolutely necessary, it is far better to have read book #1, Shai, prior to reading Elijah. You’ll get so much more from the reading experience and the characters that way. This book is dark. It isn’t a cotemporary style or stock standard romance. Nothing fuzzy to see here. Heed the trigger warnings.
H L Day never lets me down, always delivering immersive and page-turning entertainment. I liked Elijah a whole lot, hence the review, but Shai is still my favourite of the two books because it was so unexpectedly and disturbingly dark. Elijah didn’t have quite the same shock factor that Shai had upon me, which probably says a lot about me, but what it does have is a more refined deviousness, a multiplicity of intriguing arcs, a liminal energy. So I truly hope this will be a trilogy. Like a well-matched, intriguing game of chess, there are plays that often take a while before someone gets to checkmate. I want to see how that looks, the edge-of-seat outcome. How I hope we get to see a calculated and potentially unexpected final manoeuvre. 4.5 Stars!