Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Embrace the Darkness by Alexandra Ivy


Embrace the Darkness is the second in the Guardians of Eternity series. Following the events in When Darkness Comes (Book 1), Viper (chief of a vampire clan) buys the Lady Shay (last of the Shalott demons, though technically she's half human) at auction. This annoys her more than a little as in the previous book she did save his life. Way to show the gratitude. Though Viper's motives may appear nefarious, he actually wants to protect Shay. However, unknown to both of them, she's actually in a lot more danger than they suspect. To survive, they'll not only have to depend on each other, but also their friends - both old and new.

I have a problem with this book, and to be fair, it's probably not so much to do with the book itself or how well it's written. But I think I have moved away from being able to appreciate Paranormal Romance. After reading Iron Kissed and Another One Bites the Dust, this was just so nice. Too nice. The bad guys were bad, the good guys were good. It was well written. There were nice (there's that word again) comic touches from Levet, the heroine's gargoyle companion. But I don't think it's quite for me any more.

Shay and Viper have some strong dialogue and a great chemistry. I found Viper to be the more well-rounded character of the two, Shay was not quite so interesting. Maybe I'm biased.

Levet is the little gargoyle with the big heart. He works as both a sidekick and a conscience and has some of the best lines.
...a moment of blessed silence before Levet was shifting impatiently. "What's in the box?"
"Obviously, we don't know yet."
"Is it going to take long?"
"It will take as long as it takes."
"Are we having snacks?"

There are some inconsitencies in the plot, or maybe I didn't pick up on all the subtleties. Specifically relating to Shay's curse. It's said if she injured Evor (the troll who owned her) she felt pain. So why doesn't she know when Evor is injured during his kidnap? Is it only when she attacks him that she feels pain. This wasn't clear to me.

There's also a tendency to pull back from things, for example when Viper talks about the time before he was a clan chief how terrible things were for him. Shay questions him, but he just says - 'you don't want to know'. Also about the powers of each vampire clan chief - it's confidential. I'll make allowances for this once in a story, but more than that and it starts to annoy.

Alexandra Ivy does know how to keep her readers interested. New vampires are introduced here - Styx and Santiago. And there's mention of a 'young and fierce werewolf'. She puts in just enough to keep you interested in where the story is going. I also like that she makes the bad guy a little more three dimensional than your standard evil overlord. We get a glimpse of the hero he might have been in the past.

I'll also mention that we're also kept up to date with Abby and Dante from Book 1. I'm glad we didn't spend too long with Abby as she seems to have become one of those all-powerful characters.

It's a pity that the most interesting characters for me were Levet and Styx. In the same way I found Viper to be the most interesting character in Book 1. Somehow when the characters are the main focus of the book they fall a little short of expectation. I hope that Styx who will be the hero of book 3, will live up to his introduction in this book.

It's a nice story, well written with engaging moments. Slightly too light for me. The humour, and chemistry between the characters lifts it above a lot of the other paranormal romance out there. Recommended for fans of Jacquelyn Frank and Alyssa Day.

Book 1 - When Darkness Comes (available)
Book 3 - Darkness Everlasting (May 2008)


Naomi said...

Interesting. I am a Frank fan, despite my better judgement, but this series doesn't appeal to me. I like the idea of the gargoyle - urban fantasy needs more gargoyles! - but I'm so over vampires as romantic heroes.

That said, once again you manage to make the book sound intriguing... and it is pay day today...

LesleyW said...

Naomi - I've only read Jacob by Frank, so my recommendation is based on that. Levet is tiny, more like the gargoyles from Disney's Hunchback, than Alban from C.E.Murphy's Heart of Stone.

I don't think I'll ever get over vampires. If I had to make a prediction though, I think there are going to be more demon related books. Last year there were a lot of succubi, and there are some great demon's in Jenna Black's new series.

Naomi said...

I love Jenna Black's The Devil Inside. Haven't been tempted by her other books, athough I'll definitely be keeping up with the Morgan Kingsley series.

Honestly, if you've read Jacob, you pretty much know the plots of the other books already. It's the world-building in that series that I enjoy rather than anything else. In terms of characters and plots, there's nothing particularly new, but Frank's take on some of the PR/UF tropes is very fresh.