BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A society where all manner of supernatural beings have come out of the broom closet backdrops Sharon Ashwood’s romance between a magically-wounded witch and a vampire wanting more than to be eternally undead.
PROS: Ashwood’s world-building goes beyond just the typical vampires and werewolves and, in fact, opens up all sorts of possible paranormal creatures as characters in future books; the heroine’s arc of moving from powerlessness to power was compelling.
CONS: The pacing at times dragged and aspects of the hero were derivative of other well-known vampires;
BOTTOM LINE: Readers looking for lighter fare urban fantasy will likely enjoy this book.
Small-time witch Holly Carver hails from a big “M” magic family in Fairview, USA. Her ancestor may have saved everyone from being ravaged by the inhabitants of a supernatural prison called The Castle, but Carver has too many scars from a childhood magical trauma to relate. To avoid the pain of accessing her magic, she restricts her activities to cleansing hauntings and poltergeists with her business partner, the six-centuries-old vampire Alessandro Caravelli.
Ravenous was a fun read, but it didn’t live up to its title. I missed a visceral or ravenous attraction between the heroine and the hero. Even though the romance aspect fell short, both characters’ yearning for something better was dynamic. While I found Alessandro’s pretty-boy looks a nice change from the over-the-top testosterone-ruled vampire type, he was too derivative of Lestat for my taste. Don’t get me wrong, I adored Lestat in all his vamp-trampiness, but Rice’s character has become so iconic that any other vampire with long, blond, curly tresses is going to remind me of Lestat instead of standing on his own.
I found myself rooting for secondary character Conall Macmillan in the love triangle between Holly, Alessandro, and Conall. Turns out, Conall is the lead character in book number two and I’ll definitely be picking up that one to see where Ashwood takes his character.
Ashwood made room for not only the romantic version of the vampire so prevalent these days, but also the gruesome version she calls Changelings — vampire turnings gone wrong that I pictured as Packled Nosferatu. Scores of them showing up after centuries of assumed extermination are one of the first clues that something is not right in Fairview. The world-building elements are doled out well without any infodump problems, and I liked that this world is broader than just vampires and werewolves. I especially liked the twist with hellhound shifters and Castle portal guards. I hope future books develop both of those supernatural races more.
Despite a reluctant beginning, near the end Carver buys into her role in saving Fairview and finally gets to kick some supernatural ass. The action at the end of the story was well-done. While I appreciate the journey of self-discovery the heroine experiences, I wished it had happened a little earlier. Without spoiling the plot, overall I liked that Carver ultimately solves all of her own problems whether it’s saving the world, dealing with an ex, uncovering dark secrets of her psyche and innate power, or winning the heart of a vampire.