Thursday, September 20, 2012

Scent and Shadow – review

Author: Mercy Loomis

First published: 2011

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: No soulmates. No love triangles. No sparkles.

Madison, WI. 1999. When vampire Gabriel Chapel decides to take on a fledgling, he knows not just anyone will do. Newly-turned vampires kill at least one person a night for the first decade or so--a fate most humans could never adjust to.

For college student Amanda Bairns, nothing is more important than finally taking control of her life. But when Gabriel forces her to drink his blood, Amanda is pulled deeper and deeper into a supernatural underworld she never knew existed, where mages have their fingers in local government, shapeshifting faeries control infrastructure, and aether-rich ley lines attract a host of creatures welcome and unwelcome.

With the vampire's blood coaxing her to become a murderer, Amanda has four weeks to discover which means more: her freedom and humanity, or the power Gabriel offers. But neither Gabriel nor Amanda realize Amanda is a pawn in a much bigger contest--one which could have lethal consequences not only for the two of them, but for the entire city.

The Review: Wow… looking at the cover you’d mistake this for a paranormal romance but nothing could be further from the truth. Mercy Loomis absolutely eschews romance in this book – to quote the vampire Gabriel, when asked if he feels love, “No. Nor compassion or empathy. I sacrificed those emotions millennia ago.

Instead Loomis has created a sexual, erotic creature who is most definitely a sociopath. Indeed she wraps a veneer of evil around him but with a savvy, snappy character that is inhuman and yet captures the reader as a good character should and then she tops it off with a heady dose of very well written erotica. Indeed the writing throughout is wonderful and captivating illustrating some of the best of what e-publishing can offer.

There are essentially two games of cat and mouse going on, that between Gabriel and Amanda and a larger game that Loomis reveals in the background until it comes crashing into the main plot, exploding across the prose.

As I said, the vampires are most definitely monsters, as for lore... fire or destruction of their heart can kill them as can sunlight – though there are other, rare, types of vampire that can stand the sun or (in the case of one that is a turned faery, change their shape). As well as feeding on blood (and only human blood will do) they can feed on emotions as well, making them part energy vampire. There are dedicated vampire hunters and also furies – vampires dedicated to hunting vampire hunters. Vampires feel a deep-seated urge – every couple of hundred years – to create a fledgling vampire.

Whilst there is a degree of urban fantasy in the book, with the addition if mages, psychics and faeries, it does feel more a traditional vampire novel, concentrating heavily on the relationship between the vampire and his prospective fledgling and is, all in all, a damn fine read 8 out of 10.

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