Expectations. That’s all you really need.

If you know what people are expecting, all it takes is a little confidence to exploit those expectations.

If you can do that… you can fool anyone.

Lucifer Jennifer Ignacio Das Neves may be the best supernaturally-powered thief around, but that doesn’t mean her life is easy. Following the destruction of Val Brisendine—Lucifer’s mother in spirit if not in name—life has been, well, different. Relocating from a swank art gallery showroom—a business built on stolen powerful artifacts with supernatural abilities—to the upstairs office at a dingy rock club, Val has taken the change the hardest. But, seedy surroundings be damned, there’s lots of work to do. Especially with Lady Cymbaline (destructive goddess of immense power) still at large.

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Lucifer’s first job in this new world order is to retrieve a stolen artifact, per usual. Much to Lucifer’s chagrin, however, this time the target isn’t particularly powerful or damaging—the mission is meant to train Raina, Val’s intern who also moonlights as a necromancer. Things quickly go downhill when the supposedly mild Neru Totem turns out to be quite the hot commodity—in fact, the goddess Cymbaline is after the prize, for reasons unknown. And Cymbaline won’t rest until she gets what she wants.

Lucifer, feeling betrayed and lied to by Val, struggles with her conscience and the choice she faces: join Cymbaline, or watch those she loves die.

The second volume in BOOM! studios’ Hexed: The Harlot and the Thiefseries from seasoned writer Michael Alan Nelson, this graphic novel collects issues #5-8 of the ongoing comic. This time around, Lucifer, Raina, and Val face an uncertain and terrifying future—one in which their small, tight-knit unit faces immense strain. For the first time, Lucifer questions her surrogate mother, Val, because of the secrets she keeps and the lies she tells—all in favor of the greater good, and all meant to protect Lucifer from danger, of course. The love between these women, and the prickly nature of the mother-daughter bond, is in full force in this graphic novel, and I loved every painful minute of it.

In addition to the relationship between Val and Lucifer, there’s also the camaraderie and blossoming friendship between Lucifer and Raina (aka “The Intern” who also happens to be an immensely powered Necromancer). I love the way that Lucifer gradually begins to thaw towards Raina, and how they both come to each other’s aid and complement one another in this novel. The moments of brevity and joy they experience together—in a super-charged-with-speed car, trying to ninja around two other thieves in a supernatural den, when they steal a different car, etc.—are awesome. But really, the big emotional punch comes in the pivotal last scenes leading up to Lucifer’s life-and-death defining choice, when Raina reaches out to her mentor and sister-figure to give her guidance. It’s pretty beautiful.

Of course, then there’s Lucifer herself. When I read and reviewed the first graphic novel, my immediate thought was that Lucifer was reminiscent of Buffy Summers—quick-talking, smart-mouthing, authority-defying badass that she is. In this book, these same personality traits hold true; however, there’s an added layer of depth, tragedy, and nuance to Lucifer’s character. On that note, the Harlot barely plays a role in this book until the very, very end—when a jaw-dropping cliffhanger ensues.

From its emotionally gut-wrenching ending, to its powerful female character cast, and the gorgeous artwork throughout, I loved this graphic novel. Hell, I loved it even more than The Harlot and the Thief Vol 1.

ABSOLUTELY recommended.

In Book Smugglerish, 7 Neru Totems out of 10.

Thea James and Ana Grilo are The Book Smugglers, a website for speculative fiction and YA. You can also find them on Twitter.