The Rest Falls Away, the first book in Colleen Gleason’s Gardella Vampire Chronicles came out in January 2007. It received generally favorable reviews and more than a few “Buffy of the Regency era” comparisons. As later books in the series arrived, the buzz surrounding it has grown. Now, in March, we will see the release of As Shadows Fade, the final book of The Gardella Vampire Chronicles and a new release that many readers have been anticipating.
Signet Eclipse describes the book as follows:
Directly descended from the very first vampire hunter in the Gardella family, Victoria knows she must continue the lineage so humanity will have protectors against the undead.
While Sebastian Vioget appears to be both the perfect warrior and lover to ensure the Gardella Legacy, Victoria cannot forget Max Pesaro—the former slayer still haunted by the vampire queen Lilith’s obsession with him
But it is Lilith’s obsession that may save all of humanity. Demons, enemies of both mortals and the undead, have found their way to earth. To defeat them, vampires and slayers must fight side by side. But Lilith wants Max in return for her cooperation – a small price for the world, but too high a price for Victoria.
Colleen Gleason graciously sent me an ARC of the book, and my own take is:
Everything I wanted it to be – and then some.
I had the opportunity to talk to the author about As Shadows Fade, and here is what she had to say:
Lynn: Your heroine, Victoria, has spent much of this series being pulled between her calling as a Venator as well as between two very different men. Was it hard for you to have her make her choices and wrap up the loose ends in As Shadows Fade?
Colleen: It wasn’t hard for me to make Victoria choose her man, because, even though she hasn’t always known, I have always known, since the beginning, who her true love would be. That’s never changed, and I’ve never wavered.
But she, like most of us, has had to experience different relationships, and see them begin, end, and change, before she could decide who she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. She also has had to grow into her role not only as a woman, but as a Venator, as Illa Gardella, before she was ready to make that commitment.
It had to be a man who understands her, to accepts her, who respects her–and with whom she shares beliefs, morals, and judgments. Again, just like the rest of us! So, Victoria chooses a man who will support her in her role as Illa Gardella and help her make those choices from now on. She won’t be alone.
As far as the series goes, it was time to wrap up as many loose ends as possible (there are still some that remain unanswered–such as, the mystery behind those paintings in the Consilium!), as Victoria’s story was winding down. I found it both exhilarating to give Victoria her happy ending, as well as completely devastating. I loved her and her character and her world, all of her men and supporting cast, and it was hard to say good-bye.
But at the end of the day, I thought it was important to end not only on what I felt was a high note, but also now, before it went on too long and became predictable or, as I’ve said in the past, before Victoria has had everything but the kitchen sink thrown at her.
Lynn: I know what you mean! I’ve read plenty of endless series, though I see this more in mystery and fantasy than in romance. In ending the series before having Victoria battle “everything but the kitchen sink”, as you say, you undoubtedly leave readers wanting more rather than never wanting to hear the name Gardella again. Was this ending always how you intended the story arc to conclude or did you change the path along the way?
Colleen: When I decided that five books were perfect for Victoria’s story arc, I did have that thought in mind…that I didn’t want to go too far with her so that the series was battered or done to death. For me, as a reader and watcher, I find that series that go on for too long lose some of their sharpness and freshness. As for how the series was to end…I wasn’t exactly sure how it was going to end until I was finished with When Twilight Burns, insofar as other threads. I mean,you know I’ve always known who Vic would end up with…but the other threads…I wasn’t certain how they would be resolved.
Lynn: A lot of books get attention because of their heroes. However, in The Gardella Vampire Chronicles, you have created a very strong standout heroine who gets more time onstage than the possible heroes. Was this by design or did it just happen that way?
Colleen: The series has always been about a woman faced with the desire to do and be “everything”–wife, woman, vampire hunter, Society lady, etc.– and her challenges when confronted with having to make choices and decisions about her priorities.
It’s about a woman who is so unique in her world of Regency England that she is stronger than any man, is charged with a special duty…and yet is a woman, and wants what most women–heck, what most people want: to be appreciated, respected and loved, to have companionship and friendship, and to have someone to partner with.
So, it was indeed by design that Victoria is the cornerstone of the series. And it is Victoria who makes Rockley, Sebastian, Max and even Beauregard and Lilith do things and make choices that they might not have made. She changes them, even as they change her. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.
Lynn: Victoria has grown into her strength a lot throughout this series. What can readers expect to see from her in As Shadows Fade?
Colleen: You can expect to see a very strong, capable woman who has finally come into her own. She knows what she wants (but not always how to go about getting it when it doesn’t have to do with vampires), she has made mistakes in the past and has learned from them, and she is Illa Gardella. She has been through a lot, and by the end of this book, we’ll see that she’s as happy as she can be, that she’s found her place, and has accepted it, even embraced it–with courage, experience, and confidence.
In short, she’s a very different woman than the one we first met in The Rest Falls Away…and I really like the person she’s become.
However, in this book, she faces a different sort of pervasive evil than anything she’s come up against previously. People who have read this book see that the paranormal antagonists are very different than the stake-able vampires in the first book…they’re darker and creepier and more inherently evil. Those scenes feel different than other fight scenes that I’ve written, and that’s purposeful, because I wanted to end the series with her showing that she can fight any evil…not just vampires.
If she’d come up against this particular enemy in the first book or two, Victoria wouldn’t have made it. She’s grown in confidence and knowledge, and only because of that has she been able to come this far.
Lynn: On a related note, I had gotten accustomed to the familiar Venators vs. vampires struggle, and the different layers of strength among the creatures Victoria fought. The addition of other evils, such as the demons, would have seemed like piling on in many series, but I thought you made it work really well. You mentioned before that Victoria shows her strength by being able to fight evil beyond just the vampires. That’s a decision that definitely takes the series beyond the “Buffy of the Regency” comparisons that I saw when The Rest Falls Away first came out. What made you decide to go there?
Colleen:I felt it was important in this last book in the series to let the reader knowt hat yes, there are other evils in this world, and, yes, Victoria has reached the point in her…shall we say career…where she is confident and capable of handling them. So that when we leave her, we know that she’s going to be all right…no matter what comes her way.
Lynn: I’m trying to hard here to keep from asking for spoilers. At the end of your last book, When Twilight Burns, you definitely seem to be pointing Victoria in the direction of a particular hero. Will As Shadows Fade deal primarily with her relationship with her intended, or do you have some surprises in store for us?
Colleen: As in all of the books in the series, the story will deal with Victoria’s personal relationships–note the plural–as well as her, shall we say, “professional” challenges.
As Shadows Fade is definitely the most “romancey” of the series, in the sense that there is more attention given to her relationship with the hero than in other books, comparatively speaking, and there is a happily ever after–the one I’ve been promising since the beginning of the series!
But, there are some surprises in store as well. After all, it wouldn’t be Victoria if she didn’t have to face some challenges and evils, and to make some difficult decisions.
Lynn: I’m glad to see the happily ever after coming, but I’ve gotten so attached to the characters that it will be hard for me to leave this series. As I’ve read this series, I feel like I’ve seen Victoria grow into her role as Illa Gardella, but I also see Sebastian Vioget developing more depth and maturity, and I see Maximilian Pesaro learning humility, not to mention developing an ability to adjust his initial impressions of things and people. What do you want readers to keep in mind about these people as we read As Shadows Fade? After having lived with the Venators for the past few years, what are your favorite things about your characters?
Colleen: I’m so glad that you’ve seen the characters grow and develop–I mean, that’s been my intent, so to hear it confirmed is a great compliment.
The thing I hope people will keep in mind is that although the series is ending, and they may or may not be happy with what happens with Max, Sebastian and Victoria–it’s the way the story arc has been in my mind pretty much since the beginning. I feel like it’s appropriate to the books and a series that has it dark, devastating moments…and its lighter, happy ones as well.
Because it was the last book, I was able to have a little bit of fun with it in some places–for example, there’s a scene that’s really mostly just fun wherein Victoria and a bunch of Venators are in a bar, playing Venatorial drinking games.
The last chapter heading says it all: “Wherein We Are Assured That Though Nothing Will Change, All Will Be Well”.
Lynn: I have said at various times around the site that I find this series so addictive. You have a gift for creating a mood that really fits the story that you tell here. What do you think makes a good paranormal romance?
Colleen: I purposely don’t read a lot of paranormal romance, so I can’t comment on that sub-genre specifically, but I think a good paranormal romance–or any book–is one that takes chances, that fleshes out–and, more importantly, stays true to–its characters, and, for me, one that doesn’t always wrap things up in a perfect bow. I mean, not everything is going to be happily ever after.
I think a good world and solid worldbuilding makes a huge difference in PNR as well. Things have to make sense and to be consistent…and they have to be interesting. One of the things I love about J K Rowling is her worldbuilding–it’s so complete, so detailed, so thoughtful.
Lynn: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk. It’s been a great pleasure.
As Shadows Fade will be out on March 3. That’s only a month away!