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Serpent in the Heather: Cults, Spies, Nazis and a Big Spooky Castle are Somehow Boring

Serpent in the Heather by Kay Kenyon

So a year ago I read a book that was quite interesting. It was set in the 1940’s before World War II, following a woman (who has the super power to make people tell the truth) as she works as a British spy. It was quite fun, though somewhat imperfect pulpy thrill ride in the vein of Indiana Jones and Agent Carter. And even though the first book was bit slow, I felt there was nowhere else to go than up for the sequel. Here is my review of The Serpent in the Heather by Kay Kenyon.

What is it about? It follows Kim Traviscott, who is now officially an agent of the British intelligence. And after months of waiting, she has an assignment. There is a killer murdering children who have talents, AKA superpowers, and it is believed that these murders may be tied to a religious group called The Ancient Light. It is ran by a sickly old baroness and her son. So Kim goes undercover as a reporter to uncover the truth. There she tries to unravel the secrets of this family in its spooky Irish castle.

Then there is a side plot about Kim’s father, who is also a spy who is dreaming of having a normal life again. And lastly a third plot, about a boy who is helping out on Kim’s farm. He has a Talent as well, and could become the next target of the murderer.

So the good and bad. Let’s start with the good. The setting is great. This female driven 1940's spy caper with super powers is just such a fun concept. And the setting of desolate Irish island with a cult and castle was just great. And I would have to say, the family of this castle are more developed than I expected them to be. One villain particular is more of a tragic figure than a bad guy. It had some really great arcs with all of these characters. Also Julian, Kim’s father has a great arc as well with more impact than I expect. Overall everything did come together in a finale that the reader will not see coming, which is a great thing.

The bad? If you’re ready for high stakes espionage, super powers, and shoot outs with Nazis, this is not your book. In fact very little happens in this novel. Kim’s work is dull and she does every little in this novel. There was not a point where I believed she was in danger at all. Everything comes so convenient for her, that I was annoyed. I means there’s point where she comes out on top because a bad guy steps into quick sand. It was just so unbelievable how things fell in her favor, without her even have to struggle for survival at all. There was no tension, therefore no sense of adventure that I was looking for. Also there’s a choice Martin makes that is insanely dumb. It’s a choice no sane person would ever made and it really hurt the story that it developed into such a plot point. Also Kim is a bit bland. I did not realize it until the story slowed down. But there is not much to her.

Overall, I thought this would be better than the first book, but it’s much worse. It doesn’t have the pulpy fun most readers are looking for or the emotional weight of a layered main character to carry the tale at the slow points. It’s actually quite boring until the last hundred pages. At best it’s okay, but it’s not a must read.

2 smoothies out of Five.

Overall Rating: Cults, Spies, Nazis and a Big Spooky Castle are Somehow Boring

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