by Jennifer Soucy
Coralena (“Cori”) and her Mama, Tessa, are in hiding having lost everything, and trying to heal after the devastating brutality and destruction at the end of the earlier novel in this saga, The Night She Fell*. But they cannot hide forever; as Cori realises when Hayden Colburn, the man who stole and broke her heart sends a message…
She Who Destroys picks up from The Night She Fell and runs at a gallop from beginning to end. This novel is absolutely jam-packed with supernatural action, the plot forking away just as a conclusion appears to draw near. Consequently, it’s fast-paced to an almost dizzying degree, and is a lot darker in tone than the earlier book.
The premise is, overall, fairly unchanged since The Night She Fell. The Lupus Filos cult are now headed by Bronte Colburn who appears to be demonically possessed and it falls to Cori, her Mama, Hayden, and associated friends to defeat them with their wiles and magic.
However, it’s not that simple, and multitudinous complications arise. What is clear is how Ms Soucy, as all good writers should, is thoroughly immersed in the world, story, and characters she has created. It’s almost as if she is writing from inside the novel, if such a thing were possible.
However, at times, the story does suffer from an excess of superfluous descriptive imagery and it is a touch overlong.
Cori veers between being fiercely endearing to fiercely frustrating, I did itch to slap her a few times which is not necessarily a negative, good characterisation should provoke strong reactions.
The chemistry between her and Hayden is sizzlingly well-written without being gratuitous. He still exhibits some spoiled tendencies but that is to be expected given his background and events at the end of The Night She Fell.
Nonetheless, the relationship that is the beating heart of the novel is between Cori and her Mama. The dynamic between them has altered a little with Cori being in a mentally stronger position on occasion in She Who Destroys. Personally, I found Tessa a little overbearing and controlling in this outing. Given the catastrophes that have befallen Cori, this can be forgiven, but it sometimes made Tessa quite unlikeable.
Notwithstanding, Ms Soucy has introduced a new character, Samshin (“Sam”) whom I loved. She was immediately interesting, quietly captivating and a great addition to the story.
Bronte and her acolytes are as monstrous as ever, and the weaving of the old magic through cooking and conventional spellwork by Cori and Tessa is completely convincing, providing a neat contrast to the ultra-modern, superficial, and wealthy world that the Colburn family inhabit on a surface level.
If you loved The Night She Fell, you will certainly love She Who Destroys; the concept is original and has been really well-developed with a strong framework; it’s a romantic, magical, supernatural, mythological culinary mash-up and it works. Well worth reading.
*Click here to read my review of The Night She Fell