Night Race (Ashley R. King)

Night Race is the second novel in the Vampire Reality Show series by Ashley R. King.
Finished on: 13.8.2022
[Here’s my review of the first novel.]
[I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer give-away.]

Theo has been a vampire for over 300 years, but she is done with being one. She wants to taste food again and enjoy the sun. There is only one way to become human again, though, and that is a magical chalice that has just been announced as the big prize for the winner of Night Race, a reality TV show where contestants race around the world and complete challenges. Theo has been accepted as a contestant, as has Aiden who is human, but wants to use the chalice to become a vampire and avenge the death of his fiancée. Instead of fighting for themselves, though, the contestants are surprisingly paired. Theo and Aiden are teamed up and can barely bring themselves to work together, despite the fact that they are drawn to each other. But then contestants around them start dying and things become very serious indeed.

Night Race is a page-turner, but I have to admit that I didn’t love the turn the series took in this one, moving further and further away from the Reality TV angle that I find the most intriguing bit about it. How much you’ll enjoy it, will probably depend on how much you like this change.

The book cover showing a woman being hugged from behind by a man. Both are wearing leather jackets.

It doesn’t come as a complete surprise that Night Race wouldn’t just play the Reality TV thing straight. Forever After, the first novel, didn’t do it either, but had people dying on the show (let me take a second here to note that liability waivers are not limitless and can’t protect against criminal investigations when there are murders happening, but okay, it is a world with vampires, maybe there they can), and even then I would have liked it better without the murderousness.

In Night Race, though, the show quickly takes a complete back seat and in the end, we’re basically part of a global conspiracy and a hugely expanded magical world that just doesn’t fit with the TV part at all. Though that feeling of not fitting is a small problem compared to the dissemination of information in the book that often had me scratching my head. More than once, I had moments of “wait, what?”, be it when one character seems to pick up on the internal monologue of the other (it’s not impossible that a conversation has taken place off the pages, for example, where Aiden referred to another vampire as “Nosferatu wannabe” to Theo and the Theo calls him that as well, but it is weird when they both seem to call him that independently). Or be it when Aiden intuits where Theo comes from from basically no information that I could trace back. Now, it is entirely possible that I missed some hints or skipped something, I didn’t go back to check. But I am usually a rather thorough reader and since this happened more than once, my suspicion is more that the editor was too familiar with the story to catch these small gaps than that it was a problem with me.

In any case, ultimately, this is just a small, albeit irritating thing in a novel that is an overall rather good read. There is a decent amount of tragic backstories and angst with Theo and Aiden, which is not so much my thing, but plenty of people like it, of course. So, if that’s for you, you’ll get a nice helping here. It’s not all dark and broody, though, the novel does have a sense of humor.

But in the end, despite its fast pace, it just didn’t really draw me in. The stakes and the worldbuilding are too sprawling in the end, and raise too many questions not answered by the book, meaning that it can’t stay on its own as much anymore (although Aiden and Theo get their HEA in this one, so it’s not entirely unfinished). And yet, I don’t think I will continue with the series anymore – it’s just less and less my cup of tea.

Summarizing: not bad but not for me.

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