Welcome to my second
(and last) post for the
(and last) post for the
"Something Wicked Comes"
This is a month-long Halloween event! Every day during the month of October, each participating blog has been featuring a favorite paranormal/urban fantasy book (or books), along with a giveaway! You can check out the post schedule at either of the two hosting blogs shown above.
For this second post, I have decided to feature a great urban fantasy novel, dealing with vampires, that I've recently read. It's the first in the acclaimed House of Comarré series. You will find my review and giveaway Rafflecopter below!
Although this is the next-to-the last day of the event (there will be a wrap up/guest post with Darynda Jones on 11/1, at Rainy Day Ramblings), today's giveaways will actually end in November.
(House of Comarré #1)
Mass Market Paperback, 392 pages
(Little, Brown Book Group Ltd.)
Gothic Urban Fantasy
For several years now, vampires have been dominating the paranormal romance and urban fantasy genres. This particular series has a steady following, and I count myself among its newest fans! It's a rather unique series, too; the concept behind it is very intriguing, and the writing is nothing short of excellent. I admire Painter for coming up with yet another variation on the vampire mythos, one that certainly held this reader's interest all the way to the end.
The vampires in this novel belong to specific classes. There are the 'noble vampires', who are descended from fallen angels, and the 'fringe vampires', who are descended from none other than Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus Christ. Now this is certainly a new take on vampires! Just how these two classes -- who never mix, of course --came to descend from fallen angels, on the one hand, and Judas, on the other, is not pointed out in this book. I assume more details will be forthcoming in the sequels, since this is the very first volume in the series. Learning just this much, though, was enough to pull me into the story. But there's more...
Enter the comarré, a hybrid race of humans especially bred to provide the purest blood for the noble vampires. These special humans can be immediately identified by the swirling, detailed, and golden tattoos they carry. Female comarrés go with male vampires, while the males, called 'comars', go with female vampires. The comarré are brought up in special houses, learning special skills, until the time that their 'blood rights' are sought by potential patrons. The purer the blood of one of these creatures, the higher the price for their 'blood rights'.
Of course, these hybrid humans must then serve their vampire patrons exclusively, providing their own blood for them. They have been bred in such a way that, if they do not provide the blood, they can get sick and even die. Their bodies can accumulate too much blood, so they need to give it to their patrons just as much as their patrons need to take it. It's a curiously symbiotic relationship. It's also virtual slavery, no matter how well a patron treats their comar or comarré. The human in such a relationship has no freedom, and can only win it by undergoing a ritual known as 'libertas', which is a fight to the death between comarré and patron. If the comar or comarré wins, he/she is then free to lead his or her own life.
Chrysabelle is one of these rarefied beings, and her blood rights have brought the highest price ever paid by a noble vampire. She had been expecting Algernon, her wealthy patron, to voluntarily free her after several years of service to him. He had promised to do so, after all. When he doesn't, she begins to plan her escape...
On the very night that Chrysabelle has chosen to leave her patron's mansion, she discovers his lifeless body in one of the rooms. Algernon has been murdered. Chrysabelle knows full well that she will be immediately blamed for the crime, so she wastes no time making her escape.
Enter Tatiana, one of the most vicious villains I have yet encountered in either paranormal romance or urban fantasy. Tatiana has no conscience, nor is she totally sane. It becomes her obsession to hunt Chrysabelle down and bring her to 'justice', for she firmly believes that Chrysabelle is indeed the murderer. She's also after a so-called 'ring of sorrows', which will help her to gain control of the vampire world, at the same time breaking their long-standing covenant with the human world.
Chrysabelle attempts to pass as an ordinary human in order to avoid capture. She is desperate to clear her name. Ironically, she then meets Malkolm, a vampire tortured by his murderous past, and haunted by Fiona, the ghost of one of his victims. Chrysabelle decides to enlist his aid, and he reluctantly agrees to help her.
This pairing is by no means a sweet, romantic one. There is no "instant love". There is, however, some initial attraction between these two. It slowly develops into something stronger, but both Chrysabelle and Malkolm strive to fight it. Indeed, there's not much romance going on in this first volume of the series. The author has opted instead to give her readers a very detailed look into the intricate world she has created, as well as to expose the dirty politics and ruthless machinations that lie behind it.
In addition to the vampires and the comarré, there are other unusual creatures, like the varcolai, who are descended from fallen angels and animals, the fae, such as the wyspers, whose screeching scream can kill a vampire, and the Nothos, who are hellhounds.
The plot of the novel is nothing if not complex, seamlessly moving the reader from one scene to the next. Most of the action takes place in a futuristic Miami, Florida (USA), in the year 2067. Painter has re-named the city; it's now known as 'Paradise City', and the state is now called 'New Florida'. Malkolm meets Chrysabelle at a club named, appropriately enough, 'Puncture', where wanna-be vampires like to hang out. And Dominic, one of the noble vampires in the book, is the owner of another club, in which fake comarré provide service for fringe vampires.
Part of the action takes place in the city of Corvinestri, Romania, where Tatiana hopes to at last achieve her dream of total power over both vampires and humans.
The characters in this novel are so real...even Tatiana, whom I love to hate, is not a stereotypical villain. There's a rather sad reason for her descent into evil, even if this was a choice she consciously made. Chrysabelle and Malkolm work very well together toward the goal of clearing Chrysabelle's name. And the undercurrents of attraction are there throughout... Fiona and Doc, the secondary couple, almost steal the stage with their all-too-obvious love for each other. Doc is a varcolai who should be able to shift into leopard form, but can only transform into a cat due to a curse that has been laid on him. I love Dominic and Maris (Chrysabelle's aunt) as well. In fact, the author has written a prequel in which she details their relationship.
Another aspect of the book I enjoyed was the total lack of profanity. Even the rough characters encountered by Malkolm and Chrysabelle at Dominic's club, who could be expected to have a pretty colorful vocabulary, fail to utter so much as a 'darn'! I found this very refreshing, since I absolutely detest coming across profanity every few pages. It just totally takes me out of the story!
There are also no sex scenes in this novel, which I really don't mind much. Character development takes the place of such scenes, and I think it's a worthwhile trade. The main characters do kiss at a couple of points during the story, but these kisses, although not without effect, are part of 'the energy exchange' between the two of them. So this book cannot be classified as a paranormal romance. The author herself classifies it as "Gothic urban fantasy", a term I've never heard, but it does have a nice ring to it. I would call this an urban fantasy novel with a twist -- suspense, which makes it a mystery, as well.
Summing up, I would definitely recommend this book to lovers of supernatural fiction. Those who might initially be disappointed by the near lack of romance should find plenty of other things to interest them, such as the psychological aspects of the characters' personalities, which are indeed fascinating. There's also plenty of action, especially as the novel nears its end. Besides, there is more romance in the following volumes. I can testify to this, because I've peeked...
Believe me, you won't go wrong with this one! According to NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Gena Showalter: "This spellbinding series will have you begging for more!"
And now for the giveaway!
One lucky winner
will receive a paperback copy
of this book,
courtesy of The Book Depository!
Please make sure TBD
delivers to your country.
To find out, just click HERE.
Good luck to everyone!