Friday, November 30, 2012

Book Review: Charade, by Cambria Hebert (Fifteenth review for The 2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge)






Here's my fifteenth review for this
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Charade 
(Heven and Hell #2)
Cambria Hebert
Trade Paperback, 332 pages
Cambria Hebert
August 1, 2012
Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction


This second installment of Hebert's exciting young adult series is just as fascinating to read as the first one!

Having been brought back to life by the angel Airis, and given a paranormal power, Heven is now also the guardian of a secret scroll that must be returned to the catacombs of Rome.  She and Sam must do this at all costs, or many people will die.  On the way to accomplishing this task, they must deal with constant demon attacks, as well as the mysterious behavior of Sam's younger brother, Logan, whom Heven can't bring herself to trust.  She refrains from making this clear to Sam, though, since she doesn't want to come between him and his brother.  So she endures the discomfort, even as her suspicions about Logan continue to grow.

This novel brings in a very interesting new character -- Gemma, a fallen angel, who offers to help train Sam and Cole (who has been told what's really going on) to fight demons successfully.  Although Sam is a hellhound, he must be able to deal with these creatures in his human form, as well, since he won't always have the time or opportunity to shift forms.  It was quite fascinating to read how Gemma, whose feminine appearance belies great strength and fighting skills, went about training the two boys.
Another fascinating aspect of this novel was the introduction of a Dream Walker, a demon who is able to enter Heven's dreams in order to attempt to force her to give up the scroll.  Anything having to do with the unconscious mind greatly interests me!  I thought this was a very imaginative concept, one that enhanced the book's supernatural atmosphere.  It was just as fascinating to see how Sam resolved this situation, as well!

Charade is full of twists and turns, and certain characters are not what they appear to be.  Thus, the title is very fitting, since these characters are indeed carrying on a charade.  In the case of Kimber, though, I wasn't that surprised; I have never liked her, from the moment I first became aware of her true feelings regarding Heven's popularity, in Masquerade.  This second novel adds to my dislike of her, as she turns out to be even nastier than in the first.  However, toward the end of the book, even she does surprise me, too!  That's all I will reveal about the matter!

The three main characters -- Heven, Sam, and Cole -- are just so wonderful, so real, that I have trouble seeing them as fictional people.  Sam, of course, is particularly special to me, since he's the romantic hero.  And how much of a romantic hero he is, is very evident on every page!  He's so tender, so protective, toward Heven... Yet, he's never condescending toward her, never tries to belittle her abilities.  If he does at times seem a bit on the controlling side, it's because he doesn't want her to be hurt.  

I love the way Heven deals with Sam's attempts to be so protective.  She does understand his apprehension, but yet, lets him know that she's not as helpless as he might think.  She also deals very effectively with Cole, who, tired of Kimber, has grown increasingly attracted to Heven.  She's very firm with him, as well, while doing her best not to hurt his feelings.

As for Cole, I can see why he would be attracted to Heven, a girl who is so different from Kimber!  Heven is sweet and genuine, in contrast to Kimber, who is only apparently so.  Perhaps Kimber's charade is the biggest one of all!  Cole has seen her true colors, however, and I can't blame him at all for rejecting her.  He's very sweet, as well as genuine, himself. 

How Hebert resolves this incipient love triangle was perhaps not unexpected by some, but it was a complete surprise to me.  I'm glad that she did resolve it, too, because love triangles are entirely too commonplace in young adult fiction nowadays.

As for Logan, I had very mixed feelings about him at the end of Masquerade, and at the beginning of Charade.  Then I discovered that something wasn't quite right with him, and started feeling sorry for him.  When he's not having one of his 'episodes', I can see what a nice boy he is!  He actually loves and admires his older brother, Sam.  As the novel nears its end, his true character is revealed, and I couldn't have been happier!

The demons in this novel are very scary, realistically drawn creatures.  However, I like the fact that they can be defeated.  Even Beelzebub, who is known as 'The Prince of Demons' in the Bible, can be foiled.  Having demons in a novel does not classify it as being in the horror genre.  It's what the authors does with those demons that make a novel fit in that detestable category, or not.  If the demons win out in the end, or their defeat is not really assured -- in other words, if the ending remains ambiguous -- then the novel definitely falls into the category of horror.  If, however, the demons (or any other evil characters in the plot) are completely defeated in the end, then it does not.  Good must always triumph over evil.  If it doesn't, then I'm not at all interested in reading the book, and even consider it immoral.  Thankfully, Hebert's novels clearly resolve the plot in favor of the good forces, which is one of the reasons I love them!!

The way everything ties up neatly in the end is another feature of Hebert's work that I like and admire.  Even though there is a bit of a cliffhanger at the end of this book, the ending is still satisfactory.  Besides, there's the element of hope at the end.  This is another factor missing from horror novels.  Such novels are, instead, full of despair.  In contrast, paranormal and urban fantasy novels, like the ones in this series, give the reader that sense that everything will turn out well in the end.  I'm so glad for this!

This novel has it all -- deft characterization, plotting, and compelling settings, along with pulse-pounding excitement.  Thankfully missing are two other elements I totally abhor -- profanity and very graphic sex scenes.  (Actually, there are none of the latter.)  If you want to be entertained, enjoy great battles between heroes and villains, and love romance, without having to wince at reading certain words and/or passages, you must read Charade, as well as its predecessor, Masquerade!  I promise you won't regret it!  (And I'm anxious for those movies to come along!!)


MY RATING: 











5 comments:

  1. I like the idea of a character who has been brought back to life though I think that this is dangerous for an author. Even in the realm of fantasy though I think that a writer really needs to handle this well and with gravitas . It presented in too trivial a way something like this could ruin a book for me.

    Any boom that involves scrolls and Roma catacombs has got to be interesting too!

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  2. Thank you so much for the wonderfully thoughtful review of Charade. I loved hearing your thoughts on this story. I appreciate te time you spent reading and writing this review and for supporting my series!! :)

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  3. Oh and i LOVE the holiday look to your site!!!!

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  4. Hi, Brian!

    Oh, let me assure you that Cambria handled this very well, in the previous book, MASQUERADE!! She can very easily convince the reader to suspend disbelief, and enter wholeheartedly into the story she's telling.

    I agree with you -- ancient scrolls mixed in with the city of Rome and its catacombs will always mean interesting reading!!

    Thanks so much for commenting!! : )

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  5. Hi, Cambria!!

    Oh, you're very welcome!!! Writing this review was a true labor of love, believe me! And you have written a wonderful, exciting series that I'm more than happy to support!!

    I'm so glad you love the holiday look!! This is my FAVORITE time of year!! And, of course, I just had to have the color blue in there, somehow! (Besides, the header matches perfectly with my blog's overall color scheme.)

    Thank you so much for two such lovely comments!! : )

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