May 2008, Paranormal Romance
Pocket Star, $6.99, 368 pages, Amazon ASIN 141654707X Part of a series
I haven’t read any of the previous books in Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series and let me tell you – well, let me double, triple tell you – that Dark Needs at Night’s Edge isn’t the place to start.
To be honest, I think this whole series thing is just completely out of hand and I can’t think of a better book to illustrate that h-u-u-u-g-e problem than this one. Frankly, a reader who’s familiar with books set in paranormal worlds should be able to appreciate and be engaged by characters and a paranormal plot with only a minimal level of backstory. Not so here. Make that double, triple not so.
In the first place, the author expects you to study up before you even begin the book. The glossary (though something that explains complicated concepts in a paragraph or two isn’t really a glossary) requires the uninitiated to absorb a whole bunch of made up words and pretentious nonsense before she's even allowed to begin the book. Don’t believe me? Here’s one:
“When a maiden warrior screams for courage as she dies in battle, Woden and Freya heed her call. The two gods give up lightning to strike her, rescuing her to their hall, and preserving her courage forever in the form of the maiden’s Valkyrie daughter."
There follows more detailed instructions on the Valkyrie and what they can and can’t do and, when taken in context with four full pages of who and what a whole bunch of other groups are and what they can and can’t do, my overwhelming response is, huh? Double, triple huh, as a matter of fact. I know, I know J.R. Ward employs the glossary device, but she does it in a clear and simple way. You read the book, you have a question, you check back. No prior studying up required.
To make matters worse, all the characters do when they’re not fightin’ is talk. And info-dump. Well, when they’re not info-dumping that is. But info-dumping or not, they’re still talking - hoo boy are they still talking! Only without the info-dumping, it's even more incomprehensible.
I picked this book for review because I like ghost stories, books set in New Orleans, and a well-written vampire. And I did sort of like the heroine who died in the 1920s after being murdered by a jealous boyfriend and who now exists as a lonely ghost haunting her decaying mansion. For a good chunk of the book she can't really talk to anyone. But in the spirit (ha!) of the talk-fest that is this book, she can think and think and does she in internal monologues that go on for pages and pages. (And pages. And pages.) So, she's thinkin' and hauntin' when she meets the hero, Conrad, the big bad vampire and paranormal creature exterminator, when he’s brought by his brothers (and I ass-u-me previous heroes) to the mansion so they can “cure” him. Which sort of involves finding a bride to “blood” him. He’s a virgin. She was not. So they talk. And talk. And talk some more. And eventually they have hot sex and other demons and vampires and paranormal creatures get involved (and talk a lot) about some big war. Or coming. Or something like that.
As a reviewer, I have to grade a book based solely on my own personal reading experience. That’s it. And the truth is that this book failed to engage me in any way. Readers who are familiar with the series may well view it differently; fair enough and have at it on the message board. For me, however, this book was an utter and complete dud. Make that a double, triple dud.
-- Sandy Coleman
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