Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Shadow of the Vampire

Parajunkee's View Vampire Reading Challenge, Review #7 - Shadow of the Vampire by Meagan Hatfield

Warning: may contain spoilers

I stepped a little out of my comfort zone with my latest read for this challenge. Shadow of the Vampire is from a selection of new books from none other than famous slushy romance and cheesy erotica publisher Mills & Boon, under their recently-created Nocturne imprint. Nocturne books have all the steamy bedroom scenes, twitterpation and really obvious happy endings of traditional Mills & Boons, but featuring werewolves, vampires, immortals, shapeshifting dragons and various other creatures of the night.

Personally, I'm highly amused by this, and am picking up as many Nocturne books as I can from charity shops and supermarkets, but I'm sure some of you are rolling your eyes and retreating to your crypts at the thought of Twilight's sparkly tentacles infiltrating even this corner of the mainstream market.

I would have posted about the Nocturne imprint sooner or later anyway, so I figured what better way to approach the subject than to hit you with a read'n'review?

Shadow of the Vampire's loosely-crafted fantasy-esque plot is set in a world where an ancient coven of vampires and an equally ancient horde of shapeshifting dragons are at war. Dragon Lord Declan Black is captured by the vampires and held at the mercy of vampire princess Alexia, a curvaceous blonde with a fetish for corsets and black leather.

Do I need to point out here that this book is not suitable for younger readers?

Anyhoo. I was quite disappointed that, for all her whip-wielding, ass-kicking badassness, and despite being about to inherit the throne and take control of the coven, Alexia is actually little more than a slave to the will of the Queen's advisor Lotharus. Lotharus is a pretty nasty bad guy; he wants to kill all the dragons, then kill Alexia's family and take the throne for himself. In the meantime, he's keeping Alexia subdued with sexual violence and keeping her mother, the Queen, sedated by spiking her drinks of blood.

Unfortunately, since we are told of Alexia's skill with torture and prowess in battle, I found myself wondering why she hadn't simply taken Lotharus out of the picture long ago. I found it hard to believe that a strong, courageous, immortal princess would allow herself to be cowed by such a weedy specimen.

Our hero in this tale is of course Declan, who can shapeshift between human and dragon form at will (otherwise it wouldn't be much of a love story, would it?). The romance is slightly unbelieveable - Alexia is apparently so desperate for love and kindness that she falls for him almost immediately. She's, like, five hundred years old, drinks blood, and carries a Glock. But she comes across a bit like a little lost puppy.

Obviously, this IS a Mills & Boon novel, so believability and characterisation are less important than love and sex. Mils & Boon fans will be pleased to know that there is plenty of both, to the point that I thought, "How the hell am I going to review THIS?"

I felt that the author was not entirely suited to the slushy format of mainstream romance; her world-building, warring species and fantasy quests revolving around a powerful magic crystal seemed as though they had been squished, squashed and brutally pruned to fit into this format, which didn't really do it justice. I couldn't decide if the author needed to spread her wings a bit more or stop trying to cram so much in (uh, no pun intended >.<), as there were a few chapters that were slightly tedious - too much exposition here and there.

Shadow of the Vampire is probably not the most exciting read for hardcore vamp fans, but there are plenty of perkygoths who might find the Nocturne selection amusing.


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