Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Kissed by Darkness – review

Author: Shéa MacLeod

Release date: 2012

Contains spoilers

The blurb: Three years ago, Morgan Bailey narrowly survived a vampire attack that left her with heightened senses, uncanny speed, and a new calling: bounty hunter. Since that day, sexy, street-smart Morgan hasn’t met a vampire she couldn’t dust or a demon she couldn’t kill— until she’s hired by a mysterious client to hunt down a sunwalker. Powerful vampires immune to sunlight, sunwalkers are notoriously difficult to find, let alone kill. Still, a job’s a job … right?

But when this particular sunwalker comes looking for her, all bets are off. Not only is he cunning, charming, he is undeniably gorgeous – and in possession of an ancient secret which, if unleashed, could destroy the human world.

The review: It was a gamble… the very fact that this was published by Montlake Romance and carried, on the ARC (advance readers copy) sleeve, the words ‘paranormal romance’ should have put paid to this but… it was about vampires (or a vampire hunter at least), so I had to read it, and it turned out to be a very readable urban fantasy book.

Like most urban fantasy it was first person, like many it had a female protagonist who was a hunter, sassy and in possession of a libido that did somersaults whenever a hunk came onto her radar. But this was in no more any worse than something by Laurell K Hamilton or Kim Harrison. It’s a bit of a stereotyped trope now but there are worse excesses in the world of vampire literature.

What I did like about this was the fact that everything, from vampires to magic, was science based. Okay the science wasn’t particularly explained, brief technobabble about quantum and a reliance on Clark’s third law that sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, but it was a refreshing route nonetheless.

This lead us to an inheritance from Atlantis, a colony set up by refugees from a dying planet. A disease followed them to Earth, it caused Atlanteans to become raveners – violent, flesh hungry infected (I suspect a tad 28 days later-ish), humans who caught it became vampires, essentially, but hybrids of the two races were immune. Sort of, for it seems that some of those exposed to the virus became the sunwalkers but a more un-vampire like vampire you have never seen. Only the virus itself made them anything like vampires, that and longevity (we meet a sunwalker from the time of the crusades and he knew of one who lived 1000 years). Their sustenance was drawn from the sun rather than blood.

By the modern day, Atlantis was long gone and a thing of myth, the sunwalkers had vanished into the shadows, keeping their existence a closely guarded secret, and the vampires were blood hungry beasts, hunted by private Agencies in Government pay (along with any supernatural creature that might prove a threat to humans) those same Governments exercising plausible deniability.

I liked this and the book itself skipped along at a decent pace, indeed I devoured it over a day – always a good sign. Whether the setup has enough legs to support an entire series, we will just have to wait and see. 7 out of 10.

An abridged version of this review first appeared on Amazon UK.

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