Liz Kerin’s Night’s Edge is a sun-drenched novel about the darkest secrets we hide and how monstrous we can be to the ones we love most.
Having a mom like Izzy meant Mia had to grow up fast. No extracurriculars, no inviting friends over, and definitely no dating. The most important Tell no one of Izzy’s hunger – the kind only blood can satisfy.
But Mia is in her twenties now and longs for a life of her own. One where she doesn’t have to worry about anyone discovering their terrible secret, or breathing down her neck. When Mia meets rebellious musician Jade she dares to hope she’s found a way to leave her home – and her mom – behind.
It just might be Mia’s only chance of getting out alive.
To say that this novel packs a deeply emotional punch would be one of the greatest understatements of the year. Seriously, what an emotional rollercoaster. Liz Kerin’s Night’s Edge seeks to explore the fraught relationship between mother, Izzy, and daughter, Mia, through the elevated lens of supernatural horror. At the ripe age of ten years old, Mia was told to grow up fast; she listened. Due to harrowing circumstances around her mother’s condition, Mia, now in her twenties, has spent every moment of her life in service to keeping her narcissistic mother “safe.” However, the time has come in which Mia sees no way out of the cycle her life has currently fallen victim. This leaves us with the ultimate question: How does a girl get out?
Night’s Edge is a vampire novel that gives a whole new meaning to the term “blood-sucking” when referring to conceited individuals. Take away every supernatural element to this novel, and you’re left with a deeply harrowing tale about a girl working to escape the emotional chains that have bound her to her mother. The most disturbing, upsetting parts of this book have little to do with draining blood or staying out of the sun. Rather, moments between Izzy and Mia that showcase Izzy’s nature deliver a more than horrifying blow.
True to real abusive relationships, Izzy repeatedly deals Mia hard blows in the form of verbal assaults, physical disputes, and thousands of microaggressions. Yet, just as quickly as Izzy’s ugly side rears its nasty head, she’s quick to apologize, give gifts, or use her condition as a crutch to treat Mia as she sees fit. The most heartbreaking aspect of this novel is that this is Mia’s mother, the only family member she has. I often found myself recoiling during the times Mia worked to smooth things over when she was never in the wrong. However, this is the story of a child seeking what any child wants from a parent: love and trust. She’s had to learn how to survive her environment no matter the cost; her pride and emotional valor have long been set aside in the name of seeing another day.
Izzy and Mia’s relationship is not the only unhealthy connection featured in this novel. Izzy’s former boyfriend, Devon, demonstrates pure manipulation and abuse. Kerin creates an overwhelming sense of empathy for Mia, a girl who knows no relationship without conditions and is at the mercy of her mother’s whims. Given that this story is told from her point of view as a ten-year-old and now twenty-year-old, I experienced so much anger and sadness on her behalf. Without going into too much detail, there were numerous moments where I wanted to reach through the page and deliver Mia from the experiences she was facing.
Relationships aside, Kerin’s world-building abilities truly shine. While sticking to some well-known tropes associated with vampirism, new traits and rules are introduced that give the well-explored topic a new light. This creativity helps to brighten an otherwise bleak plot. The book never lagged, and its sense of great emotional tragedy combined with fresh ideas fueled events forward at lightning speed.
Based on everything discussed before this point, you may be wondering: Why do I pick up this sad, maddening, dark work of fiction? My answer to you is that there is so much more to this novel than its dark bits. Do they take up most of the book? Absolutely. But another huge component to this story is Mia finding herself and who she is past the shadow of her mother. There is excellent representation of all kinds of folks who exhibit tenderness to Mia or show her there is an alternative to the life she is living. A somewhat minor character had me nearly in tears with the kindness she imparts to Mia during a particularly unsettling time.
Night’s Edge is a very earnest, emotionally visceral book that delves into navigating the darkest parts of relationships. It embraces the raw complexities of conditional love and traumatic relationships. While the ending seemed somewhat inevitable, I was still left speechless wondering just how things would play out moving forward. And they will be moving forward with the release of the sequel to this book, First Light, in April of 2024. I will be the first in line to get my copy; Liz Kerin, you have a new fan.