Saturday, January 19, 2013

Book Review: Tirade, by Cambria Hebert

Tirade (Heven & Hell #3)
by Cambria Hebert
Trade Paperback, 366 pages
Published by Cambria Hebert on November 12, 2012
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

(Reviewer's Note: I won this book as part of the recent Charade Read-Along.  This lucky event has in no way influenced my opinion of the novel; I have always been committed to giving honest reviews.)

This series is characterized by pulse-pounding excitement, starting with the first book, Masquerade.  Practically every page of the latest novel, Tirade, has a surprise for the reader.  Although I dealt with many interruptions while reading this third installment in the Heven and Hell series, I kept coming back to the book every chance I got.  I was amply rewarded with great characterizations, sharp dialogues, and plot twists that had me frantically turning the pages.  

The story opens with one of the protagonists, Sam, trapped in hell.   His girlfriend, Heven, desperate to get him out, has no immediate means of doing so.   Beelzebub, the Prince of Demons, is the one responsible for Sam's imprisonment, holding him in an actual dungeon, located in the depths of a gloomy castle. 
Heven finally decides to seek the help of one of Sam's old roommates, another hellhound by the name of Riley.  Only a hellhound can enter the infernal kingdom; mere humans are unable to do so.  But can Riley be trusted?  After all, he and Sam are little better than enemies.  Heven knows that.  But she can't stand the thought of knowing that Sam is at the mercy of the Prince of Demons, who could torture him at any time.  

Of course, Heven can also count on her brother Cole's help, as well as that of Gemma, the fallen angel introduced in Charade, the second book in the series.  Together, they attempt to not only rescue Sam, but also find out whether Beelzebub has managed to get his evil hands on the scroll Heven has been guarding.

Hebert has woven a very imaginative tale here, in spite of some events that I would say stretch the limits of the literary suspension of disbelief.  I think she still manages to do this so well because she makes us care about her characters.  All of them are very real to the reader.  They each have their secrets and inner flaws, making them so much more human.  Even those that are not human in the full sense of the word -- such as Sam, Riley, and Gemma -- still come across as such. 

Equally believable and realistic is the setting for most of the book -- hell.  I must admit to feeling quite a bit of discomfort while traveling there with these characters; Hebert's vision of hell is dismal and dreary.  Contrary to popular ideas of this place, there aren't flames everywhere.  Instead, it's mostly a very gray, solitary, barren landscape, broken only by rivers full of dark sludge which is supposed to be water.  Fearful demons occasionally and unpredictably appear, attacking our heroes.  An overwhelmingly oppressive atmosphere pervades all of the parts in the book dealing with this horrible place.  This is, in fact, the main thing that made this novel less of a pleasure for me to read.   This book is much darker than the previous two.  The reader is constantly being taken to hell, whether through Heven's dreams, or a portal, with the help of a hellhound.

I also felt uncomfortable with the interaction between the characters and the principal demon in the novel -- Beelzebub.  I would think that humans, fallen angels, and hellhounds would never be a match for a demon as powerful as Beelzebub. 

I had very mixed feelings about Riley, as well.  It seemed that he was always trying to hold on to his "bad boy" image, making sarcastic remarks whenever anyone tried to thank him for doing something good.  Then I found out that he there was a curse on him, which he constantly had to struggle against.  He did help Heven and Sam tremendously; without him, Sam's situation would have been completely hopeless.  He wasn't easy to like, though.  He would be charming one moment, and cold the next.  He remained pretty mysterious until the very end, when a surprise twist revealed something very unexpected about him. 

On a more positive note, I was very happy to see Gran again!  She has always seemed more of a mother to Heven than her own mother.  Her unconditional love for Heven is not only very touching, but also gives Heven the emotional support and confidence in herself her mother is either unable or unwilling to give her.  Gran has not only given such love to Heven, but to Sam's little brother, Logan, as well.  She has accepted both brothers totally, and even wants Logan to live with her on a permanent basis.  Needless to say, this definitely endeared her to me even more!

Now that I've mentioned Logan, I'd like to point out that I really enjoyed getting to know him better.  He really is a sweet young boy.  It was unfortunate that he had to go through the harrowing events depicted in the second novel.  Here we get to see his true self.  Heven has come to trust him, and considers him part of the family.  I totally loved that!

Madeline, Heven's mother, has remained a puzzling mystery throughout the series.  I really can't understand her rejection of her own daughter, no matter how much I've tried to.  I totally dislike her, and can only say that her behavior is totally despicable.  This leads me to wonder if Hebert will finally explain her strange attitude and actions toward Heven in the last book of the series, Renegade, which the author is currently working on.  

What I like most about Tirade is that Heven has become an even stronger, more dynamic character.  She will stop at nothing to free Sam.  She also has to deal with two major emotional blows in this book.  Somehow, she becomes an even stronger person.  Her relationship with Sam deepens, and they share some wonderful, tender scenes that totally melted me!  They also make a very powerful team, as they work together to defeat the forces of evil. 

This story also brings the reader more information about Gemma's background, and further develops her relationship with Cole.  It was wonderful to read about their romance!  The parts of the novel dealing with them were a welcome respite from all the doom and gloom.

In spite of the above-mentioned points, I do think that Hebert has created a very compelling page-turner.  Her writing flows beautifully, and she moves from one event to another without losing a beat, throwing her characters into situations they must deal with using all the skills they possess. 

In the final analysis, I think that any paranormal romance/urban fantasy fan who starts this series will inevitably get hooked on it.  It's full of all the elements that make these genres so appealing -- supernatural creatures, plenty of action, and forbidden romance.  Hebert brings us another skillfully penned tale in which she makes all these elements come together to create an unforgettable reading experience!


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