This sequel is an intense thriller, a wild ride filled with hellish realms, grisly rituals, murderers, demons, drug dealers, talking ghosts, and Yale's elite. And Alex Stern is in the center of it all, trying to run Lethe House (the gatekeeper organization for all of Yale's secret magical societies) while her mentor Darlington is, well, not in Spain like she keeps telling everyone. It's complicated. He's halfway trapped in a demon realm/halfway trapped in his house's own ballroom in a circle of protection, naked, sprouting horns and an erection. Is he more demon than man now? Can he be saved? Is there a ritual she can do in secret that will save Darlington and not destroy all of New Haven in the process?
Beyond the fascinating rituals -- maybe one too many -- there's a complex web of characters spinning around Alex. There are the shady advisors who tell her to stop looking for Darlington or get expelled. There are the drug dealers from her old life in California who won't leave her alone -- just one more job, now one more… There's Turner, the police detective who needs her advice on some murder cases that look suspicious, in a sinister kind of way. There's Dawes, the brains behind Lethe who clings to the safety of their rules until she can't anymore, not when Darlington is in trouble. There's her Yale roommate Mercy who doesn't understand why Alex is never home studying, until she decides to confide in her. The magic of the story is in distilling all of Alex's connections, adding heaps of New Haven history and Ivy League politics to the mix, and letting it all simmer. While the end result is something far more fantastical than expected -- think surprising new powers and adversaries -- it's a truly exciting ride to hell and back. And back again.