By reading Eternity Embraced I was hoping to finally finish the series with Ecstasy Unveiled. Unfortunately, dipping my toes back into the Demonica universe again with Eternity Embraced wasn't the motivator I was hoping it to be.
I expected too much, for starters. This is a mid-series short story - those can be notoriously unfulfilling. Adding 'paranormal romance' into the mix can result in tired cliches, which I've apparently outgrown. On the positive side, the couple were together before the events in this story take place, meaning there's no 'love at first sight'. On the other hand, these characters are completely new and hail from an Aegis Guardian cell in Portland, bringing little to the Demonica universe which is primarily based in New York City, though the main couple featured in the debut novel do appear at the end.(less)
I might have to live vicariously through others on this one because my library hasn't ordered a copy and I'm not prepared to pay the extortionate pric...moreI might have to live vicariously through others on this one because my library hasn't ordered a copy and I'm not prepared to pay the extortionate prices they're asking for what I expect to be mediocre at best.(less)
Fast-paced, compelling and deliciously gory, BUT deus ex machina, predictability, repetitiveness, and lovey-dovey mushiness brought The Eternity Cure...moreFast-paced, compelling and deliciously gory, BUT deus ex machina, predictability, repetitiveness, and lovey-dovey mushiness brought The Eternity Cure down. Honestly, Jackal is the main reason my rating isn't lower.
Jackal is akin to Damon Salvatore of The Vampire Diaries in that their pragmatism takes priority over their humanity "when he suspects he is on the losing end of a bargain" and their annoying yet charming personalities add a comedic element to proceedings; it's never dull when they're around. And yes, despite being a self-serving antogonist with flexible morals, I really like Jackal. If he'd dispense with his need to raise his own vampire army and evilly rule over the humans, I think he'd make an appropriate suitor for Allie. He certainly isn't afraid to call her on her bullshit:
"And I'm getting a little tired of your holier-than-thou act, sister. You're not a saint. You're a demon. Own up to it."
Elena's Allie's repetitive mantra about keeping her humanity, leashing Kanin's homicidal instincts and heeding Zeke's warnings grew tiresome. Zeke, in spite of being tougher than he was in The Immortal Rules and able to kill if he has to, he's still a bleeding heart. Sometimes the only logical answer is to kill. (view spoiler)[Stick should've been killed. Pathetic though he is, he's too much of a danger to remain alive. (hide spoiler)]
The evolving romantic relationship between Allie and Zeke is admittedly standard illogical paranormal YA fare:
'Maybe I was being naive. Maybe I was being deliberately blind. Most likely I was being incredibly stupid and endangering his life.'
Obviously I completely understand why Allie wants to hold on to Zeke: his humanity keeps hers in line and he fully accepts her for who and what she is, but not only that, finding someone with similar inclinations among the vampire population may prove difficult because vamps like Kanin seem to be an exception rather than the rule.
'I was just aware of one thing: I could not lose him. Zeke had seen the monster at its worst and was still here. He dared to get close to the demon, knowing it still Hungered for him, craved his blood and his life, and he wasn't afraid. For the rest of my existence, if I lived to see the end of this world, there would never be another Ezekiel Crosse.'
Perhaps this says more about Zeke than Allie. By cosying up to his natural predator he puts himself in the running for a Darwin Award, i.e. it's an incredibly stupid thing to do. Anyway, their alone time is cringe-worthy rather than sweet and romantic. This is definitely something that the author has to work on.
Deus ex machina: Three characters in peril(view spoiler)[: Kanin, Zeke and Jackal (hide spoiler)] had me admiring Kagawa's big brass balls to kill off one or all of these characters ... until they're all miraculously saved (view spoiler)[by Eden's experiments on Zeke saving both him and Kanin, and Sarran's uninfected blood stash for Kanin's crippling hole through the stomach (hide spoiler)]. Compared to the debut, The Eternity Cure is all bark and no bite which is rather disappointing.
And the end, I saw that coming miles away. I'm not sure if I've just inferred this but I'm pretty sure (view spoiler)[Zeke's a vamp now. After all of the talk of his remaining human and he should have a choice etc., it was inevitable (hide spoiler)]. This, if true, will make Book 3 interesting, though I expect a Stefan-like (The Vampire Diaries) split-personality response.
Despite my dissatisfaction with the final scenes, I look forward to seeing more of Jackal and Eden and its inhabitants as they respond to Sarren's threat.
*My thanks to Harlequin for the eArc in return for an honest review.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
The Immortal Rules reinvents the tired vampire genre by adding a post-apocalyptic, dystopian world with zombie-like rabids waiting in the shadows to t...moreThe Immortal Rules reinvents the tired vampire genre by adding a post-apocalyptic, dystopian world with zombie-like rabids waiting in the shadows to tear you to pieces. Kagawa has also brought back the vampires of old as soulless killers who've allowed themselves to lose all semblance of humanity, are allergic to sunlight and can only drink blood. True monsters. None of that sparkly, namby-pamby stuff. This mashup of popular genres works, primarily because the world and plot are complex and the main character isn't stupid or emotionally dense.
Sixty years ago the Red Lung virus wiped out billions of people, reducing the vampires' food source. One master vamp presented himself to the human scientists to help in any way he could, providing them with other vamps as test subjects in order to find a cure. The unfortunate result was rabids -vampires warped by the virus, overcome by their predatory instincts are now violent zombies with only basic intelligence and whose bite spreads the virus further. In repsonse, master vampires created walled off cities which hold the remaining humans like prisoners, forced to work and donate blood to their undead masters and in return they receive food. Unregistered humans who don't wish to live as blood slaves survive by squatting in empty buildings, stealing food, trading on the black market and defending their territory from other groups. A tough life and one that our main character leads.
Everyday was a struggle against starvation for Allie and her small group of Unregistereds, within which were stark contrasts between self-sufficiency and well, the exact opposite. Despite being physically capable Stick is fearful and weak, disgustingly so. He's a parasite feeding off Allie, literally. She goes hungry to feed him, cares for him, fights his battles. Pity and his assumed loyalty seemed to be the only reason he was allowed to mooch. I despised Stick's lack of backbone. Not once did he make an effort to be brave.
As you can tell, Allie has a bit of a soft spot for those in need but she also possesses common sense, she's a survivor -one who tries not to let men distract her or bring her down. There's a goal and she will attain it. By any means necessary. She's not afraid to kill in self-defense but she is afraid of losing compassion, of letting her predatory instincts take over and thereby stripping her of her humanity, her morals. Allie’s adamant she won't become like the vampires she's always despised who treat humans as cattle. She strives to better herself and others in any way she can and hopes to one day have the strength and skill to somehow change the status quo, to perhaps free humans from the stranglehold of vampires. Kanin's philosophy of moderation, and choice and treatment of his victims made him an ideal sire and mentor for Allie. He was brutally honest and practical, teaching her vampire history and how to become a samurai (she's of Japanese descent) with her newly acquired katana.
Allie's journey after she's forced to flee the city is an intriguing one but also mildly worrying when she meets the sickeningly nice human guy with "love interest" tattooed on his forehead. Zeke is part of a small group of travellers seeking the elusive human-run city, Eden. Is it real? Is their leader nuts? Joining them was obviously a bad idea but she was lonely and these people obviously need help hunting food, fighting off rabids and hiding from some vengeful vampire. Keeping her undead status under wraps and her hunger in check she gets to know everyone, feeling especially protective of the children who instantly trust her. When the cat's out of the bag, I loved the fact that Allie doesn't let her injured pride lead to vengeance or abandonment. Luckily for them, she cares for the group from afar which led to some much enjoyed action, death and destruction. The last few pages were full of awesome. A stoic and visually beautiful ending.
I can’t fault the writing style. There were moments when I swore I was watching a movie instead of reading, times like these:
My coat snapped behind me as I flew over the water, and the raiders’ eyes bulged as I soared from one side of the catwalks to the other.
There were also a couple of eerily appropriate Bible verses:
“’Again, I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun: I saw the tears of the oppressed-and they have no comforter; and power was on the side of their oppressors-and they have no comforter.’”
I suspect Allie will one day provide that comforter.
And there's the better known: “’though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.’” A very literal valley of death.
I can take a guess where things will go from here. (view spoiler)[I expect at some point Kanin and Zeke will meet for the express purpose of sharing knowledge to find a cure to the virus, whether that will be in Eden, I don't know, considering it's a vamp-free zone. I am slightly anxious about the future potential for lovestruck pining but I'm hoping her focus will be on rescuing Kanin before the torture reduces him to a ravening beast. And obviously Allie’s vampire brother will reappear at the most inopportune time. (hide spoiler)] I’m curious enough to find out what happens next to read the sequel.
I frowned, utterly confused. What kind of vampire killed four people, had a cryptic conversation with a street rat, thanked the street rat for talking with him, and then walked off?
'I was dying. I was dying, and this stranger-this vampire- was offering me a way out. Die as a human, or become a bloodsucker.'
‘Will you choose to become a demon with a human face, or will you fight your demon until the end of time, knowing you will forever struggle alone?’
“I’m good to go,” I said, holding my sword. “I don’t have anything except this.” It was kind of sad, really. That I’d lived in a place for seventeen years and had nothing to show for it but a sword and the clothes on my back. And they weren’t even mine.
“And like I said, if the tent falls on you in the middle of the night, don’t panic. You’ll get used to it. No one really worries about keeping things erect around here, and...Wow, that sounded bad.”
‘A large bed sat against the wall beneath a broken window, curtains waving gently in the breeze. On the worm-eaten mattress, two adult skeletons lay side by side, the remains of their clothes rotted away. Between them was a much smaller skeleton, being held in the arms of one of the adults, cradling it to its chest.’
“Allie, you’re a beautiful, exotic-looking vampire girl with a katana. Trust me, if anyone is going to attract attention, it’s not going to be me.”
***My thanks to Harlequin for the ebook via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.***["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Vampire tales of loneliness, revenge and what love means.
Frater's superb characterization continues to thrill me, though now I'...more'Life: thick and red.'
Vampire tales of loneliness, revenge and what love means.
Frater's superb characterization continues to thrill me, though now I'm a little scared of how she's able to so exquisitely bury inside the hearts and minds of vile predators and abusers and paint them in all their terrible glory. It's not often that stories are told from the villain's perspective, especially ones that I actually appreciate, but these I did.
Part I: The Ache of Loneliness
★★☆☆☆ The Whisper An introductory story of a night-loving mortal woman coming upon a male vampire.
★★★☆☆ The Two Mothers Before you think it, there are no lesbians here! A vampire woman longs for a child, spots one suffering from leukemia out walking with a mother willing to sacrifice everything for her love of him, including her life. I found it interesting how the mother was willing to share her child with another and let him call her "mama".
Part II: The Revenge of the Vampires I love a good "revengeance" and Frater delivers in spades. This quote explains this section perfectly:
"When a woman says no, it's really best to leave her alone. You just never know who you are fucking with."
★★★★☆ The Predator
'She was undermining him. He was so frustrated, when he lay in his bed during the day trying to sleep, he would fantasize about taking her forcibly right there at work. He could feel his hands closing over her neck, pushing her back onto a copier as she cried out in terror. Sometimes, that was his only solace when she ignored him. No matter what happened, he would always conquer her in his dreams.'
★★★★★ Vengeance Sitting in a chair with a gun is an old man waiting for his annual visit from the wife he vilely abused. Every year she beats him to within an inch of his life for his awful violence towards her (rape and beatings), her children (the girl he molested, the male he rendered infertile) and the full-term unborn child he killed. By far my favourite story of the collection.
Part III: The Inner Sanctum Trilogy
★★☆☆☆ The Aspect of Her Eyes A male vampire speaking of his love and admiration for his wife to his female progeny while watching said wife hunt their next meal.
★★★★☆ The Memoirs of Moniki Memoirs of a 5-to-7 year old girl neglected and abused by her alcoholic father in the 1930s. Helped by a genetically-engineered rat created by the Nazis and rescued by the female vampire admired in the previous story. Contrasting the abuse Moniki received by her biological father and the endearing love by her new vampire parents was interesting, though I'm not sure the girl's loving grandmother would approve of her new life even though she's now safe and happy since they probably qualify as 'the devil' she feared.
★★★☆☆ Blood and Love Our vampire couple showcase their enduring and all-consuming love for one another, paling in comparison to human love. (less)