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"Set fire to the broken pieces; start anew." —Sever


The Chemical Garden #3

by Lauren DeStefano
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Back with her husband and sister-wife, Rhine can’t help but wonder if she has done the right thing. Jenna is dead, Diedre has been tortured, and she doesn’t know where Gabriel is. When Rhine sees Cecily with her former husband and Cecily’s child, and she feels more alone than ever.

Despite her doubts, Rhine is still determined to find her brother. After taking time to recover from her hospital stay, she sets north with the unexpected companionship of Cecily and Lindin. But once again, she discovers Housemaster Vaughn is one step ahead of her. And this time both Rhine and her brother will play a part in his search for the cure.

Sever’s plot is similar to DeStephano’s first two books, and reading it feels like Déjà vu. Also, the cure discovered for the Virus was not quite believable. Still, DeStephano writes a surprising ending to her trilogy, and the last chapter in Sever ties this world up with a bow and leaves her characters in a satisfying place.

Sexual Content

  • Cecily is now in the middle of her second pregnancy at the age of fourteen.
  • Rhine and Linden kiss. “His lips are familiar. I know the shape of them, know how to make mine fit against them. His taste is familiar too . . . I’m holding his life against my tongue, between my rows of teeth.”
  • Cecily has a violent miscarriage that nearly kills her. “Sliding down her thighs is an abundance of red. It’s pooling at her feet, from the trail of blood that followed her into the room.”
  • Rhine tells her former husband that she and Gabriel did not have intercourse while they were at the mansion.
  • It turns out Rhine and Rowan were created via a vitro fertilization.


  • Cecily is convinced Vaughn wants to kill her. She says she will murder him before he has the chance.
  • It turns out that Rowan, Rhine’s brother, has bombed a few research facilities. He is called a terrorist. The “explosion comes . . . I can feel the heat of the flames . . . I turn around to watch the burning building that just moments ago was the Lexington Research and Wellness Institute.”
  • Rowan thinks Rhine was killed for science. “She was lured into some primitive makeshift laboratory . . . her heart began to palpitate first. And then her throat swelled shut; her eyes started to bleed. And when she died, several agonizing minutes later? Her body was dissected for even more
  • It is discovered that Vaughn lied to Madame, telling her that her husband and daughter died in a car bombing by pro-naturalists. He then kidnapped the daughter and told her both her parents died in the same bombing, so she would have nowhere to run.
  • Rowan undergoes the same medical treatments as his sister, which includes having a needle inserted into his eyes.
  • Lindin hits his head during a plane landing. “Linden puts his hand to his temple, and it comes back bright with blood that’s trickling down the side of his face . . . and then he’s falling. I swear I can hear the sound of his bones hitting the dirt. Blood is frothing in his mouth, and his eyes are closed and he’s having convulsions.”
  • Cecily shoots Vaughn twice in the chest with a small gun. “A load crack splits the air . . . Vaughn puts his hand to his chest, and that’s when I see the dark stain of blood on his shirt. Another shot comes, and then he drops to the ground, astonished eyes open and unblinking.” Cecily and Rhine then make it look as though someone broke in and murdered him.

Drugs and Alcohol

  • Reed smokes.
  • When Cecily asks Reed if he has enough formula to care for the baby, he jokingly says, “Formula? . . . A boy his age is ready for rum.”
  • Vaughn gives Rhine pills. “I’m barely conscious by the time we land . . . I see the oriental rug rushing toward me as I fall, and then someone is holding me by the arms and I’m eased into a wheelchair.”


  • Cecily calls Reed a moron for smoking near her child. “I’m pregnant, you moron . . . and in case you’re blind, there is also a five-month-old baby sitting next to you.”


  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

by Morgan Lynn

Other books by Lauren DeStefano
Other books you may enjoy

"Set fire to the broken pieces; start anew." —Sever

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