Title: Two Graves (Retribution Series #1)
Author: Zoe Kalo
Genre: Dark Psychological Suspense
Audience: New Adult/Adult
Word count: 18,000 words – 70 pages (short novella)
Launch date: October 1st 2016
About the Book
A Dante-ish descent through a sinister world of decadent shadows and woeful souls…
Seven years ago, he shattered her life. The town eventually forgot the headlines and the nightmares. But 23-year old music student Angelica hasn’t forgotten.
For the past seven years, she’s contemplated payback with as much intensity and unwavering faith as she puts into her violin playing. Finally, all the pieces are in place. Over the course of one night, disguised for a masquerade ball, Angelica orchestrates a journey of revenge.
What makes a person go to such extremes where who they once were has now completely changed them into a stranger hell bent on one thing: retribution. In Two Graves by Zoe Kalo, the mystery surrounding Angelica's transformation and motive is revealed across this novella's seventy pages. Her story is told in the present day where she is 23 and with flashbacks, showing her as a teen.
Despite her young age, Angelica is accustomed to wearing a mask, shut off from the rest of the world as she walks through her current life as a ghost figure. She's a music student, plays in an orchestra, appears to live a solitary existence in which the need for revenge has consumed her. After a concert, she heads to a masked ball, her dark thoughts centered on achieving one goal: retribution. Her sights are set on one figure who she follows throughout the evening. What an evening this becomes.
Then we see Angelica as a teen, a girl who has had to grow up quickly. Surrounded by a religious mother, abandoned by her father, she is bulimic and her saving grace is her talent-she is what we would consider a child prodigy with the violin. She is about to audition for a school, but the universe is conspiring against her, tossing various emotional incidents to distract her from the opportunity of attaining her dream. What happens on this day will have lasting effects.
Angelica has been living in her own hell these past seven years which has led to this evening. And did I mention the weapon strapped to her thigh? The mystery deepens as she follows her mark. Numerous metaphors and similes help paint a surreal party scene which is one long head trip filled with classical music pieces and opera references, garish surroundings and strange, perverse characters.
Two Graves is such an interesting story. It intrigued me. As much as I enjoyed the set-up and the rich setting, I didn't connect as strongly as I wanted to with Angelica. There was so much I wanted to know about her, about her mother and Tata, and about those missing years. I did feel Angelica sounded older than 23 in the very beginning and then settled into a more convincing and age-appropriate voice. Some scenes felt rushed and with such a rich environment as that decadent estate, we could have been privy to more. Who sat behind those cameras watching? What happened to the sexy pianist? Her orchestra friend? And as I read the climatic scene I was begging for more exposition to help me better understand what had really happened. Even the first three years. Or that fateful day when she auditioned. What's the story behind that teddy bear room?
Unfortunately, that is the problem with novellas. Their brevity leaves the reader wanting more. I wished the mystery at the heart of this tale was explained a bit more thoroughly. But then I guess that would have gone against what I believe the author was trying to achieve: this languid estate party complete with rooms straight out of Dante's Inferno. Masked beings fill its spaces with their debauchery, temptations await in every room, while carnal pleasures can be fulfilled in darkened halls. Secrets will also be unraveled and revealed as the night wears on.
Kalo's world mesmerizes and enchants while its haunting soundtrack creates the right amount of tension. A macabre setting lets the huntress hunt for her prey, but when the tables are turned, we wonder who exactly is the one doing the hunting? Does Angelica get her retribution? You'll have to read Two Graves for an answer. Just one word of warning: prepare for a heady voyage. You may finish wondering what you just read, your mind filled with numerous questions and with the desire to find out more.
Cover comment: The girl's masked face and snowy woods gives me a dark, romantic vibe but there's no romance in this story.
Book source: I received a promotional copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
About Author Zoe Kalo
A certified bookworm, Zoe Kalo has always been obsessed with books and reading. Reading led to writing—compulsively. No surprise that at 16, she wrote her first novel, which her classmates read and passed around secretly. The pleasure of writing and sharing her fantasy worlds has stayed with her, so now she wants to pass her stories to you with no secrecy—but with lots of mystery…
A daughter of adventurous expats, she’s had the good fortune of living on 3 continents, learning 4 languages, and experiencing a multicultural life. Currently, she’s working on a Master’s degree in Comparative Literature, which she balances between writing, taking care of her clowder of cats, and searching for the perfect bottle of pinot noir. She is the author of the YA fantasy series CULT OF THE CAT.
Connect with Zoe Kalo on the web: