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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
The Vexation of Vampires by Chrys Cymri is the fifth book in the Penny White series. Penny has returned to England, but problems from Lloegyr follow her back. Raven seems to be suffering side effects, including memory lapses from the recent Spirit Ceremony, and Penny doesn't know how to help him. Though Clyde has healed from the loss of his wings, his passion to help the other snail sharks has grown as he leads those left from the Nation to recover in the backyard. As Penny gets to know her new curate, Skylar, who also happens to be a vampire, she's brought in to investigate the sudden rise of vampire colonies moving into England. Not everyone wants the vampires around and are willing to do whatever it takes to make them leave. Penny must find a way to help them before force is used against them. To top it off, she has to find a way to deal with growing family problems and planning her wedding to Peter.
After four books, I've become completely invested in these characters and love seeing how they've evolved since the beginning. Chrys Cymri continues the growth and emotional journeys of these beloved characters in a dazzling new adventure. Cymri has a talent for subtly growing characters through their experiences, which is what makes them so realistic and defined. More is learned about Raven as he becomes a focal part of the plot, giving him a new layer and explaining more about him while also showing him in a different light. Penny and Peter are navigating wedding planning with realistic relationship obstacles such as children and finances. The twist on vampires is completely unexpected and unique. I honestly haven't read anything like this before and I love that. As with the gryphons, unicorns, and other well-known mythological characters, the vampires have their own culture, traditions, and beliefs that make them feel incredibly human in a lot of ways. They're real people with flaws and strengths, who just want to protect their families. The fallout of the shark snail war is explored in what feels like closure, getting to see what happened to the two groups.
An appearance by the merpeople is brief but delightful, and teases a thread that may get explored later. A quick mention of bees having left England for asylum in Daear is an fascinating aside, giving an explanation for the disappearance of bees. It's a brief moment, but one I enjoyed. As always there are many layers to the story and to the characters, which further opens up this world that I fall in love with a little more with each new adventure and every new character. The Vexation of Vampires is emotional and full of heart, a stunning read that pulls you in from the beginning and doesn't let go. I can't wait for Penny's adventures to continue!