Let me begin by saying that Rebecca Hamilton is a relentless marketer. When I first heard of this book, I did not believe it would be interesting to me. However, after the onslaught of guerilla marketing she has unleashed upon the world (and I say that as a good thing), I decided to give it a try. To say that I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. This was an excellent story.
I will spare you a synopsis of the book as the book’s description handles it well. While it only scratches the surface of what the book truly contains, I think to reveal anymore would do a disservice to those who have not read it. It is a story that must be experienced to be believed. Instead, I will hit on what I feel are the most important things that someone deciding to read this book should know.
I have been reading Sci-Fi and Fantasy for many years and so one of the first things I look for is the world building. Because I have read so much, I have a tendency to believe I have read it all. However, I must say that Hamilton has surprised me with some very interesting concepts. She has taken some different concepts and weaved them together into a world view that is pretty unique. Her treatment of Wicca and the Salem witch trials proves she did at least a little research. There were some other creatures of myth I recognized, so she must have done a little more research. Having done a fair amount of research into many of these things myself, I really appreciated the effort. Obviously this is a work of fiction, but I think some maybe surprised as to where the line between truth and fiction actually lies. Ultimately, it is the way she blends vampires and shape shifters into these other concepts that is just brilliant and quite unique. Like many, I suffer from vampire burnout but she manages to make it fresh and interesting again. She has created a mythos in her world to serve as a backdrop for her characters that is a little bit like a lot of things but in the end is wholly different from them all. For this reason alone, I enjoyed the book.
The second thing I look at are the characters and hers are well written. From the main characters to the supporting cast, all of them were realized enough to add to the story. I found the main character of Sophia to be very authentic. She reminded me of people that I have known and I found most of what she did to be quite realistic and wholly endearing. The supporting characters were well done. Not overdone nor underdone, they served the overall story. As additional main characters were layered in, they blended into the story perfectly. I thought the relationship between Sophia and Charles to be extremely well done. At time I found some of their exchanges annoying but in a very real way. If they bothered me at all, it was that they were sometimes too real. It’s sometimes hard to speak of realism when discussing fantasy novels but the overall realism of the characters is what really struck me. The story and characters evolved naturally rather than just having the characters dive right into mortal peril. Though it made the story advance more slowly, it made for a more convincing tale and I appreciate that.
Finally, I look to the story itself and the writing. Hamilton’s writing style is very easy to read and connect with. It is effective at engaging the reader and pulling them in to the story. I was able to get into her style quickly which made it easier for her to grab my interest early. The plot evolves at a nice pace and while it is impossible to not be able to predict some things, I can say there were a few surprises. There is a flashback sequence that is a little lengthy for my taste given its location in the story, but it is full of important information so it was necessary. The plot flowed nicely with its ups and downs. There is high emotional content in many places including an ending that will cause some mixed feelings. Overall I was satisfied with the story. Knowing this was going to be a series, I was pleased to see the story definitely ended. Yes, it is also obvious it will continue but this part of the story was definitely resolved which was well done in my opinion.
The only reason that I gave this book 4 stars is that in the end I was sort of right in the beginning, this isn’t the type of story I would typically get into. However, I can say that I was quite impressed with this book and when the next one comes out, I will read it. If Rebecca can maintain this momentum, she will have a bright publishing future. I, for one, can’t wait to see it.