As we get into the second book, the focus is starting to narrow on the scope of the story... and I think to its detriment. The Count's story is, at its heart, one of revenge fighting with humanity, and we see a whole lot of the former but not so much of the latter, which for me at least meant I didn't find the Count particularly compelling. I didn't actually find many characters compelling at all, just felt varying levels of pity for them based on how much of their misery was self-bought and how much was inflicted by others. The presence of the boys from the first book is dwindling, and it makes their role in the first seem sort of... useless? Except as a gateway to meet the families, in particular that of Franz's fiancee Valentine.This is a book that seems to relish bad things being done to people, and those scenes seem to get drawn out much more than plot scenes, which gives it an unbalanced feeling for me.