Book Review: VIPER by Bex Hogan

Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 5/5 stars
Series: Yes - first book



Seventeen-year-old Marianne is fated to one day become the Viper, defender of the Twelve Isles. But the reigning Viper stands in her way. Corrupt and merciless, he prowls the seas in his warship, killing with impunity, leaving only pain and suffering in his wake. He’s the most dangerous man on the ocean . . . and he is Marianne’s father.

She was born to protect the islands. But can she fight for them if it means losing her family, her home, the boy she loves – and perhaps even her life?

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


I loved Bex Hogan’s debut. It’s a rip-roaring sea adventure in an inventive world. I loved the different isles, and the mythology around them. I particularly like the mystery and magic around the Western Isles, and I can’t wait to see more of them in the upcoming books. Not to mention to knock on effects of damaging the isles.

The boat scenes – particularly the chase – felt very authentic. Maybe it was simply a few technical-sounding terms wrapped up in adventure (I hate boats, so would be easily fooled), but I was completely taken in.

It’s not quite a pirate story, but close. I liked the spin on pirates; a crew supposed to keep the seas safe, but whose Captain has decided he’d rather rule the waves himself. I love it when authors put their own stamps on commonly used ideas. The Snakes aren’t pirates with a moral code, seeking to right wrongs outside the law; they’re Crown-sanctioned brigands taking liberties as the Viper gets a taste for power.

The Viper was a great villain, who was always a step ahead. When he wasn’t around, wasn’t actively moving against Marianne, there was an uneasy suspicion over what he was doing in the background – what horror he’d unleash next. His relationship with Marianne – the pull between her disgust and her desire to earn his approval – was masterfully done, putting me in her shoes. I wanted her to impress him but at the same time recognising how toxic it was and wishing she’d break away from him.

The writing was engaging, pulling me in from the first page with its deftly written prose. There are several plot points that are clearly signposted, but rather than feeling clumsy it builds anticipation for the event. In one particular case, it played out like a tragedy from the first introduction of the characters in question.

The magic is subtle, but intriguing. It’s not flashy, but woven into the natural world. Magic has vanished, but there are traces throughout and they play into the climax in a really fun way. I’m hoping there will be more in the next book.

I’m excited for the next book, VENOM, which will be out next year. In fact, I put it on my list of must buys 2020 after only five chapters!

Read my reviews of other books by Bex Hogan:

Isles of Storm and Sorrow (this series):


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