Author: Kristen Painter
Genre: Urban fantasy
Pages: Paperback, 392
Opening Lines: "The servant trembled in front of the grand fire place that had never been lit and never would be."
"Born into a life of secrets and service, Chrysabelle's body bears the telltale mark of a comarre -- a specialy race of humans bred to feed vampire nobility. When her patron is murdered, she becomes the prime suspect, which sends her running into the mortal world . . . and into the arms of Malkolm, and outcast vampire cursed to kill every being from whom he drinks.
"Now Chrysabelle and Malkolm must work together to stop a plot to merge the mortal and supernatural worlds. If they fail, a chaos unlike anything anyone has ever seen will threaten to reign."
~ Jacket copy
Thoughts: After seeing this book on a fellow book blogger's site, I went to the local Hastings to buy a copy. To be honest, the cover caught my attention more than the premise; however, I was glad to learn that it had a somewhat original looking plot. Sadly, I end up buying a lot of duds when I get books based on the cover. Damn those marketing people! Arg!
The story follows Chrysabelle as she is trying to leave the service of vampire nobility. After being refused the option of leaving her patron at her century party, she finds her patron dead. That knowledge is her chance a freedom. The death of her patron means he no longer owns her blood rights. After growing up in the business, she relies on her former comarre aunt to help her in kine -- human -- society. Sending her to a contact, Chrysabelle ends up meeting Mal. Through various events, they find themselves sneaking into Corviniestri -- the headquarters of vampire society -- to stop a plot that could lift the veil between vampires and mortals.
Reading this book, it is easy to see how Anne Rice and Vampire: The Masquerade has shaped our modern perceptions of vampires. From the houses and powers attributed to a specific house to the drinking of vampire blood to become undead, one has to wonder whether we will ever see a new vampire. That is not to say, however, that Meyers has added to the genre or species. I would be remiss to say so. Even with pulling on the giants that have come before, Painter did make an effort to make the vampires her own. I thought the concept of a comarre was quite interesting. Add to that the trained and hardened vampire killing side brings the story up to a new level. The idea that vampires -- nobility no less -- are sustained by some of the only people trained to kill them is itself a beautiful irony. Even though the comarre training is a deeply guarded secret, one has to wonder if the vampires are so easily kept in the dark -- pun not intended. Without the full knowledge of the comarre training, wouldn't allowing a comar or comarre their freedom after 100 years cause some to pause? Living so closely with humans means that they would gain some knowledge whether intimate or not. And I'm not talking about sex. Whatever you think, drinking blood is an intimate act! That aside, the vampire, while spoiling their major food source, either has great trust in their comar/comarre or they are completely lost in their arrogance and refuse to face reality.
Looking at Aunt Maris, I wonder why the vampires choose to allow their food source an option of leaving. Further, if they tire of their property, why do they not trade it or kill them?
And, I'm not sorry to say it, the mopey, tall-dark-and-handsome, Byronic hero vampires are getting on my nerves! I want a vampire that doesn't apologize for what it is! I'm tired of this constant identity crisis! And no more vegetarian vampires. Come on people, it was already done -- masterfully I might add -- with Louis. To get right down to it, I want Lestat -- or something similar. I want a ruthless, cold-blooded killer. A predator that is able to seamlessly camouflage themselves to attract more prey. Why are vampires sexy, emit this bestial mystique that drive humans crazy? For the same reason angler fish have a phosphorescent light: to attract prey! While I understand romanticizing vampires to a point, I think we've essentially castrated them with all of the "noble savage" mentality that can be seen in modern literature. Granted, I understand that living for centuries watching people die will take a toll on anyone, but when is enough enough?
You want to see a real vampire, read LeFanu's Carmilla which predates Dracula.
Let's get serious here, people, would you knowingly sleep with something that desires -- no, wait, something that NEEDS to kill you in order to survive? In real life, do you see prey snuggle up to the predator? Did Bundy's victims knowingly fawn all over him and willingly spread their legs? Hell no! Why, then, do we assume that the vampire won't kill you? Honestly, that's one of the things I appreciate about the Dresden Files: Butcher tells it like it is.
Given the nature of vampires in modern society, I did find myself enjoying this book. At the beginning, I found myself having a hard time engaging. Usually, if it takes a book more than a few pages to grab my attention, I found myself pushing through because I wanted to know what would happen. However, the relationship between Mal and Chrysabelle was entirely too predictable. the same can be said of the Mal and Tatiana's relationship. Even though it is not said outright, I saw it coming a mile away. That being said, however, I found myself enjoying Tatiana. She did tend to be stupid and allow her hubris to blind her, but she knew what she was.
Because forced myself to continue plowing through the book, I did find a gem under the predictable characters, relationships, and plot devises. By the end of the book, I am willing to give this book four skulls.
Currently: Demon Hunts by C.E. Murphy
Current Pages: 392