#Review: Love After Dark Anthology: Illumine – Alivia Anders
Essallie Hanley has never been able to forget the night her beloved boyfriend was murdered. To make matters worse, the demon he summoned seems to be stalking her. As if that’s not enough, she also has to contend with the unexpected changes occurring throughout her entire body. Changes, she realizes, she has no idea where they’ve been coming from.
Determined to make sense of the situation, Essallie puts her trust in Kayden. She knows she shouldn’t, but there’s a reason as to why the demon can’t lay a hand on her. A reason she wants to know about with every fiber of her being. Deep inside, she wishes she had someone to confide in. Someone in whom she could truly trust. Whether she wants to or not, she knows Kayden is her only source in finding out what she needs to know.
Returning home to Belfast, Maine, Essallie dives head-first into finding out as much as possible about herself and her family. There’s something she’s not seeing. Something she knows she should know. Unfortunately, her family has always been good at keeping secrets. Nevertheless, she’ll find out exactly what she needs to know, or die trying in the process.
A quick, but intriguing read, Illumine introduces you to the dark and chaotic world Essallie now finds herself in. Being a Nephalim isn’t easy, much less when you have no idea that you are one from the get-go. I think Alivia did a wonderful job in setting up the stage for future books. I can’t wait to find out what happens next for Essallie and Kayden. Will they be able to conquer what’s definitely heading their way, I wonder?
Illumine by Alivia AndersThe nerves returned once more, and I shifted in my shoes, uncomfortable. “You do know what you’re doing, right?”
“Of course,” he said, sounding assured. “Why wouldn’t I?”
“I’ve never seen anything like this. What if we accidentally open up a portal to Hell, or summon a demon, or curse me with boils for life?”
Chase laughed. “Relax. I read about this in a book I picked up from a little Wiccan shop outside the city. You won’t come out with boils on your face.” He came to a stop near the end of the circle, leaving a small patch free of salt. He set the bag down and stepped into the circle with me. Gently he took one of my hands, and I watched as he pressed a kiss to the palm. “You’re going to be just fine.”
“We’re going to be just fine,” I corrected him, smiling nervously. “After all, this is happening to both of us, right?”
He nodded, rubbing my palm with his thumb in slow, lazy circles. “More or less, yes.”
I started to ask what he meant when I felt the pain pulse in my palm. Immediately I yanked my hand back from his and cried out. “What the hell, Chase?” I looked at my hand, stunned to see a bubble of blood that began to run along my wrist like a ribbon. It was then I noticed the small, silver dagger in Chase’s hand, the blade tip coated in blood. My blood.
My head began to spin, and I swayed in my spot. Chase backed away with remarkable speed, and by the time I found focus, the circle had been closed in completely.
“Chase,” I said, hearing the weakness in my voice. “You’re scaring me.”
His eyes had turned to the small bowl of water in front of the circle, where he dipped the blade tip into until the water turned a light shade of pink. “Sorry, love. I should have said it might hurt a little bit.” He glanced up at me as he crouched before the water dish, and in the candlelight he looked possessed. “You know what they say. The best things in life come with a little pain.”
“Who the hell said that?” I challenged back, shaking. I started to move toward the edge of the circle, keeping pressure on my hand. The blood had started to run over my fingers, the sticky liquid nauseating. “This is sick, you know that? I’m not doing this, I take it back. I don’t want to bond with you.”
A figure stepped out from the shadow, all glitter and beauty. Her voice was charming, even when she was cruel. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”
“Cassie?” I practically cried. “Oh my gosh, Cassie, go get the hotel staff, call for the police! Chase is out of his mind over here—” I paused, repeating her words in my head. “Wait, wouldn’t do what?”
Her eyes flickered to Chase, and she crossed the room to him, cupping his face lovingly. “I’m sorry it took me so long. You really hurt me, you know.”
“I always hurt you,” he said, practically sneering. “You get too sensitive when we linger around mortals. I like you better when you take my heat and fire it back at my heart like you used to.”
“Funny. Last time I did that, you whined that you’d find another Necromancer to keep your sagging excuse for a body alive.” She pinched his cheek, tsking. “How’s that working out for you, darling?”
Chase pushed her aside and muttered something under his breath, and Cassie cracked a dark grin. Her eyes turned back to me as she folded her arms across her chest. “Don’t take this personally, Essallie. We’ve been sacrificing people for decades. It comes with the deal we made forever ago.” She stepped closer to the edge of the circle, and I inched closer. “I’d chalk it up to bad luck. Normally, we’d just pluck some drunken idiot off the street or from a homeless shelter. But once Chase found out what you were—”
“Cassandra,” he said warningly. “You are forbidden from telling her.”
She sneered back at him. “I know, I know. Always the party-pooper.” Cassie flicked her eyes back to me, smug. “Let’s just say, your blood is worth all the riches in the world.”
They continued to bicker back and forth, lighting candles and pulling out various small bags from different corners of the room. I didn’t know what to think at this point. My ex-boyfriend and best friend had to be insane. They thought magic was real? That they had to sacrifice someone? I thought back to Cassie’s words about picking up drunks from bars, and started to wonder if the men she had taken to her place after our nights out ever made it back home. They were mad, absolutely out of their minds. And I wasn’t going to stick around for them to kill me in their insanity.
I spotted the dagger at the edge of the circle and moved for it, reaching out to grab the hilt. As soon as my skin hit the edge of the circle, the salt lining it erupted into a wall of fire, striking my skin. I screamed and fell back onto the ground, cradling my burnt arm against my chest. What the hell was going on?
Illumine by Alivia Anders
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For the past five months Essallie Hanley has been trying to forget about the frightening murder of her boyfriend. Haunted by vivid nightmares and hallucinations of the event she does anything she can to pretend she’s like every other normal girl in High School. Only Essallie is far from normal. Able to conjure blue fire and a shimmering silhouette of wings from her body, she seeks the only known solace left to her name; her first home in Belfast, Maine. But she soon realizes that her return home is only the beginning of a long and twisted road taking her as far from her humanity as possible, with Kayden, the demon originally summoned to slaughter her, leading the way. Unable to touch her but oddly curious, he joins Essallie in her search to find out just what she is. But neither of them were prepared for the secrets they’ve begun to unravel, secrets that will change Essallie and everyone around her forever.