Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Hunger Like No Other

So yeah, the cover is pretty cheesy, and I probably wouldn't have picked this up based on a first impression (being the superficial, judgmental reader that I shouldn't be but admittedly am). I put it on hold at my library based on the recommendation of Carolyn Jean from that most excellent blog, The Thrillionth Page, and I admit I was a bit surprised its appearance when it came in. I suppose I've become accustomed to the dark, edgy urban covers on such books, typically featuring either a cropped portion of an athletic, kick-ass heroine or an evocative, stylized symbol.

A year or two ago, I put together a list of the series I've been working on, mainly as a way to remind myself what I've fallen behind on and to help keep up with my favorites as they are published. I had asked readers to comment with suggestions or input about their favorite series (I'm still open to suggestions!), and Carolyn was surprised not to see this series listed, saying it' s her absolute favorite. So I added it to my list, the way you people are always making me do.

At first I was a bit unsure about the whole thing. Our heroine, Emma, is on her own for the first time in her life, trying to track down clues in Paris about her mysterious vampire father. Emma is part vampire, part Valkyrie (at first is isn't clear exactly what that entails, but little by little, the full picture emerges). She does have to drink blood in order to survive, but she has never taken it directly from the source, so to speak - in fact, she has been warned by her adopted Valkyrie aunts never to do so.

Meanwhile, a Lykae (a sort of werewolf) named Lachlain has been captured by vampires, and has been withstanding torture by fire (immortal beings can withstand unthinkable amounts of torture) for decades. Lykae are destined to be with one single soul mate, and Lachlain has pined for centuries, hoping to find the One. When he catches scent of her (Emma, of course) somewhere in the city above his prison, he manages to do something (at vast expense to himself, physically) that he hasn't been able to for over a century: he escapes.

Lykae and vampires are mortal enemies, so it is understandable that Lachlain would have mixed feelings upon discovering the identity of his true soul mate. Emma is terrified of him; Cole walks a fine line with his overbearing, violent behavior at first - his years of torture and imprisonment have left him on the brink of insanity, which nearly had me setting the book down. But I'm glad I kept reading, because I found Emma's world - particularly her upbringing with the Valkyries, who are crazy, strong, delightful women - to be fascinating, and while Lachlain never really stole my heart, the relationship between him and Emma certainly did, as well as Emma's growth throughout the course of the novel - her side of the narrative is very much a coming-of-age story. Complicating their steamy relationship is a brewing war, with various powerful supernatural creatures taking sides and making alliances.

All in all, I found this to be interesting and enjoyable, with a cast of unusual characters with fascinating problems. The story was more complex than I expected, particularly the rich background of the various mythological beings and their relationships with each other. There were moments of delightful humor as well as some dark and disturbing moments. I love dark and funny, so that combination is always a welcome element when I'm reading.

Books in the Immortals after Dark series:
1. A Hunger Like No Other
2. No Rest for the Wicked
3. Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night
4. Dark Needs at Night's Edge
5. Dark Desires After Dusk
6. Kiss of a Demon King
7. Pleasure of a Dark Prince
8. Demon from the Dark

A Hunger Like No Other (#1 in the Immortals after Dark series) by Kresley Cole (Pocket Star Books, 2006)

Also reviewed at:
All Things Print: "This was my first book by Ms. Cole and it was... meh. Not bad, but not great either. I, of course, loved the Alpha male Lachlain."
Book Whispers: "This story ended up being more complex then I could have imagined a silly PR being. All of this is accompanied by Cole's great sense of humor, and she had me laughing out loud. I love it when I book can be funny and balance the dark and gritty elements."
Ciara Sweetheart: "I really liked Emma. She has amazing personal growth through the book, changing from a shy girl who lets people push her around to a brave woman who stands up for herself."

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