Can you imagine a post-apocalyptic world? One in which cataclysmic events triggered such changes in the earth’s topography that entire continents shifted and the infrastructure of America crumbled? As difficult as it may be to fathom, Joss Ware brings this world vividly to life in her Envy Chronicles.
Night Betrayed is the fourth book in the series. Taking place approximately fifty years after The Change that devastated the earth, the story begins as a dying Theo Waxnicki is brought to Selena for her to ease his passage into the afterlife. Theo is one of a group of friends who not only survived The Change but emerged with enhanced abilities including delayed aging. Selena has enhanced abilities of her own and assists souls crossing into the afterlife. With Theo however she makes an impulsive decision that saves his life.
Selena has a secret tied to her gift that could threaten her relationships with the community of which she is a part and especially with Theo. As the two begin to spend more time together, the emergence of her secret becomes inevitable. With the unexpected appearance of The Strangers, dangerous people with a nefarious agenda, Theo and Selena must work together in order to survive.
The story derives much of its tension not just from Selena’s secret and the toll it takes on those around her, but also from the day-to-day struggles the characters face through living in a society with few resources. I derived much enjoyment from the small details, such as Selena’s use of a combination of natural ingredients to create a sort of nail polish for her toes. I loved the complexity of the world and how the characters are forced to be exceedingly resourceful.
Selena is far removed from the standard-issue romance novel heroine. She is a single mother with a teenage son who bears a heavy burden due to the nature of her gift. She is surrounded by death and fear, yet she quietly tends to business, being the light and hope for her patients. She is a perfect match for Theo who is also rock-steady dependable. They communicate well and have great chemistry. Surprisingly, amid such destruction within a dark and dangerous world, a believable HEA exists.
Assigning a grade was difficult for me because I have no real criticism of the book. However, some of the more violent scenes prevented the book from being a DIK. Although one of the novel’s strengths is the unflinching glimpse of a brutal future society, there are too many heart-wrenching scenes that are difficult to read, and I am certain Night Betrayed will not be occupying my keeper shelf.
However, even as turmoil and violent events occur, the reader senses the characters’ determination to survive. Within the series, there is a theme and an atmosphere of hope. I closed Night Betrayed with a smile on my face. This world is dark, gritty, and unique. And I just can’t get enough.