Book Review: The Devil’s Night series by Penelope Douglas

The stalking of Penelope Douglas’ backlist continues! After getting all disappointed with the Fall Away series, I’m happy to say I haven’t entirely given up. What I’ve read next is still not quite ‘it’… but there are elements I want to talk about in this book review of the Devil’s Night series.

(The following reviews contain spoilers.)

Book Review: Corrupt by Penelope Douglas

Book review Devil's Night series by Penelope Douglas

Corrupt official cover art
Corrupt official cover art

My rating: ★★ (2/5)

Summary: Book #1 of the Devil’s Night series. Erika has always had a crush on her high school boyfriend’s older brother, Michael. However, he’s moved to college, and they don’t meet again until she decides to attend another university… the one in his city. But Michael and his friends have unfinished business with Erika, because she’s the one who sent Michael’s friend to jail. Or so it seems.

Genre: Romantic suspense, Dark romance

Audience: New Adult

Themes/potential trigger warnings: bullying, abuse, humiliation, slut-shaming, explicit sex, polyamorous relationships

What in the Wattpad?

The premise of this book is good. Erika “Rika” Fane is this top student. She’s from a rich family, and she dates another very rich guy, Trevor Crist. But she likes his brother, who now just seeks revenge for his friends since he let her join his “Devil’s Night” and she got his friends into jail. The problem is… This story goes from romantic suspense to some cheesy smut-fest.

Rika reminded me of Tate from the Fall Away series. Blue-eyed, blonde, mouthy, but completely oblivious to the most obvious shit that happens around her. I don’t care how many times she gets mentioned in the later books, I will never like her. We’re talking about a girl who wants to learn how to fly solo, without Daddy’s money, and when the studio she leased turns out to be a penthouse because of some “mysterious mistake,” she rolls with it. She’s never done nothing without the Crists’ supervision, but if she gets interrogated in class, she’s smart enough to have the university professor shut up.

Now, the male protagonist. I just don’t understand what the appeal is. Is it because he wears a mask and he and his buddies call themselves The Four Horsemen? Is it because he plays basketball? Rika and Michael almost never had a conversation aside from the night he let her join his yearly ritual of breaking the law. But these two are somehow all over each other.

There are too many rape jokes in this book. As in, Michael and his friends can seem to terrorize girls only if they threaten them with rape. Also, there’s a threesome in this book, and I’m certainly not a prude. However, I’m not sure why Michael’s friend, Kai, needs to thank Rika three times. Because she healed his penis? Poor Kai hasn’t touched a girl in years because of jail, and he can’t get it up. Until her. Also why? I didn’t get that dynamic at all.

The only redeeming aspect of this book is the consistency. They’re all dumb, so you want to know just how dumb they are and what truly caused these guys to go to jail.

Book Review: Hideaway by Penelope Douglas

Book review Devil's Night series by Penelope Douglas

Hideaway official cover art
Hideaway official cover art

My rating: ★★ (2/5)

Summary: Book #2 of the Devil’s Night series. This book focuses on Kai’s story and his relationship with Banks, a girl he met at the cathedral long before he was sent to jail. After his friend Damon vanished at the end of Corrupt, Kai intends to find him. But he finds Banks first.

Genre: Romantic suspense, Dark romance

Audience: New Adult

Themes/potential trigger warnings: forced marriage, forced proximity, abuse, child neglect, explicit sex, dubious consent, polyamorous relationships

Are the characters on the cover Japanese or Chinese?

Serious question, because they look more Chinese than Japanese, and I wonder if any Chinese reader has said something about this. Kai Mori is half-Italian and half-Japanese. Now, being half-Italian and half-Asian myself, I was excited to finally read about a character with mixed heritage. The problem is that Kai is simply American. He has a dojo, which is as cliché as him owning a sushi restaurant. He sometimes mutters sayings in Japanese. His Japanese dad is as strict as in those Hollywood movies in which Asians are always stern and tight-lipped. And his mother? I’m not sure what’s Italian about her aside from her name and the fact she’s Catholic.

Details aside, I didn’t like Kai’s backstory. Seriously, he’s always seen as “the kind one,” “the righteous one,” but he’s always taking part in the dark shit his friends pull. I’m not sure what makes him kind, but even the heroine thinks he is. Let me tell you, he’s kind enough to penetrate her virgin pussy even when she says she’s scared. In this regard, Banks’ bodyguards/friends were right when they said the quiet ones are the worst.

Now Banks… Banks, Banks, Banks. As much as I enjoyed her backstory and how she grew up with Damon, who is really her half-brother, she and Kai have no chemistry. I also could have lived without an explanation to Kai’s threesome with Michael and Rika if the explanation is that Rika reminded him of Banks. Great. The thing is, Banks and Kai had very few interactions in the past, so why are they so drawn to each other (like Rika and Michael)? There’s no room for their relationship to develop properly in this book since the entire plot revolves around Damon and finding Damon.

Book Review: Kill Switch by Penelope Douglas

Book review Devil's Night series by Penelope Douglas

Kill Switch official cover art
Kill Switch official cover art

My rating: ★★★★ (4/5)

Summary: Book #3 of the Devil’s Night series. This novel focuses on Damon and Winter, the girl who contributed to sending him to jail by saying he raped her. Damon comes back to Thunder Bay to get his revenge on her and her family, and he does so by chasing away her father. He then marries Winter’s sister and controls Winter’s family since they lost all their money when the patriarch abandoned them.

Genre: Romantic suspense, Dark romance

Audience: New Adult

Themes/potential trigger warnings: forced marriage, forced proximity, abuse of disabled character, child neglect, child abuse, explicit consent, dubious consent, polyamorous relationships

This book is good if you acknowledge that this isn’t Damon.

I went ahead and read the third book because I’m now used to third books being better than the previous ones. At least with Pen Doug. Plus, there was so much setup for Damon’s story in Hideaway that I wanted to know what his deal was.

This guy isn’t Damon. In Corrupt, Damon is an absolute piece of trash. He throws rape jokes all around, threatens and terrorizes Rika on his own, and at the end, he tries to kill not only Rika but also his best-friend-slash-occasional-lover, Will. In Hideaway, you see him slightly differently through Banks, although their relationship was toxic and borderline incestuous. But you can imagine he wasn’t always bad.

In Kill Switch, Damon appears as some chess player who also wants to play real-life chess. And with Rika, of all people. Because somehow he suddenly accepts her and respects her. They exchange information like they’re the mafia of Thunder Bay, and this Damon is overall too calm and calculating to be the guy who teamed up with Trevor-fucking-Crist to make Rika appear as the villain in Corrupt. Character development or convenient change of heart from the author?

Winter’s disability

Half the stuff that happens in this book results from Winter’s disability and the odd portrayal of blindness. I was excited to read about a blind character, but I just don’t understand certain things. After her accident, Winter’s parents sent her away because they were ashamed or couldn’t be bothered to deal with a blind child. So, she spent many years in Canada and yet, nobody taught her how to use a stick. Nobody gave her a dog. Why? Because her parents didn’t want? But why?

This makes Winter particularly helpless and defenseless, because she relies solely on her hearing most of the time. She needs to hold someone to go anywhere. Also, her relationship with Damon goes from childhood friends to Damon pretending not to be Damon to get close to her once she returns to Thunder Bay for high school. And this blind girl eventually accepts to sleep with a guy who only whispers and doesn’t tell her his name. Someone who disappeared for two years after their initial encounter. I am so confused.

So what’s good about this book?

The suspense part was better, and the action scenes drew me in. Damon driving a knife into his bastard of a father was satisfying. I’m not 100% sure this book deserved 4 stars, but I read it faster than the other two, so that’s something. I just wish there had been more consistency. One moment Winter considers herself a rape victim, the next she just loves Damon so much. I’m also not sure about Winter and Damon resolving to having sex with Will when he’s emotionally distressed. Like, what? I also wonder why Damon, who is Russian, is Catholic instead of Orthodox. You need to turn off your brain a bit to enjoy properly, I guess.

Book Review: Conclave by Penelope Douglas

Book review Devil's Night series by Penelope Douglas

Conclave official cover art
Conclave official cover art

My rating: ★★ (2/5)

Summary: Book #3.5 of the Devil’s Night series. This is a novella that bridges the first three books with the rest of the series, as the group of friends decides to find Will.

Genre: Romantic suspense, Dark romance

Audience: New Adult

Themes/potential trigger warnings: explicit sex

Unnecessary.

I seriously believe you can read the fourth book without reading this first. Conclave is a novella that plunges you back into Rika and Michael’s drama, their sex and lack of chemistry, and it shoves some more Winter and Damon down your throat. And Damon’s a family guy now. I also can’t understand why Misha and Ryen, from Punk 57, are in here. Misha is Will’s cousin, but they never seemed particularly close. Between him and Will’s friends, I don’t know who’s stupider. They all knew Will was drinking and doing drugs and they waited a year of no news before setting out to find him. And they need to hold a conclave to do it.

Also, Rika becoming the mayor at 20-something is ridiculous.

Book Review: Nightfall by Penelope Douglas

Book review Devil's Night series by Penelope Douglas

Nightfall official cover art
Nightfall official cover art

My rating: ★★ (2/5)

Summary: Book #4 of the Devil’s Night series. Will was sent to Blackchurch, a place for rich delinquents to learn their place when their parents won’t send them to jail or worse. But his friends aren’t the ones who come to his rescue, not immediately. The first familiar face to join him is Emory, the girl who broke his heart in high school.

Genre: Romantic suspense, Dark romance

Audience: New Adult

Themes/potential trigger warnings: explicit sex, violence, polyamorous relationships

This book disconnected from the rest of the series.

I was looking forward to Will’s book since he always seemed to stay in the background in the previous books. I must say this read was a mostly boring one. While I liked the scenes that took place in the past, the Blackchurch plot annoyed me to no end. I don’t see how it’s related to the “Devil’s Night” and the whole “Horsemen” theme. Will makes new friends. Fights an entirely different predicament. I don’t get what’s going on here, and it makes my interest for Will fade away.

Now, Emory… The girl whose gazebo Will set on fire because he was so heartbroken. She’s basically a girl who treated him like crap because she couldn’t stand her life. I get it; she had to take care of her sick grandmother, was an orphan, and her older brother brutalized her every day. I wouldn’t care about a boyfriend either. But the fact she preferred sending Will to jail instead of, I don’t know, tell him what her brother was doing and how he planned on screwing Will over? When Will’s grandfather is a senator? And the fact she never went back once she made the stupidest of decisions… Somehow, Pen Doug always makes the heroine look like a complete tool in this series.

Frankly, my brain shut down by the time they left Blackchurch. The Horsemen and their… Horsewives? Coming to save the day? They have a private train now, too? I still don’t understand where Blackchurch was for no one to figure out where Will was and yet, they just had to take the train to reach him. Why and how Will ended up in Blackchurch is a “mystery” that drags on, and I am still looking for the chemistry between him and Emory. Or her and Alex, for that matter. They literally had one girls’ night once, but they’re all over each other.

Conclusion

I’ll skip the holiday novella that wraps up this series. I liked the dark themes, the attempt at representation, and even the suspense the author created with this back and forth between the timelines. However, the characters are the definition of first-world problems. And I can’t help but wonder how they’re above the justice system just because they’re rich and have connections. Especially when those connections are wobbly.