This is the second full length novel and third story in the Immortals After Dark Series, published in 2006.
I'm not sure why this one got stuck on my TBR pile. I kind of stalled out on this series, kept on buying the books just not reading them. So expect something of an Immortals After Dark bookfest over the next couple of weeks. (Apologies that my Hunger Like No Other Review is appearing out of order but I had already read it, so it's not TBR).
So the story opens with Kaderin the Coldhearted (Valkyrie) coming to kill vampire Sebastian Wroth. The villagers below his castle are apparently terrified of him even though he's done nothing to provoke their fear. However, it quickly becomes apparent that she is his destined Bride, and rather than kill him, she flees, leaving a somewhat disgruntled vampire behind. Their meeting has two consequences - Sebastian's heart begins to beat, and Kaderin after centuries of being an unfeeling killing machine starts to feel emotion again.
Kaderin has more important things on her mind, however. She is about to take part in the Talisman's Hie, a kind of supernatural scavenger hunt, with the ultimate prize being a key that will allow the holder to travel backwards in time. Kaderin wants the key to be able to rescue her sisters who were slaughtered on a battlefield centuries earlier - the last time she showed mercy to a vampire. Deciding it's the only way to get close to her, Sebastian joins the Hie as well. But to gain the prize will require more than teamwork, it will take the ultimate sacrifice.
I know I've said it before but I hate the no breathing thing for vampires. There said it, got it off my chest.
Of the two main characters I find myself slightly preferring Sebastian. Kaderin takes a little longer to warm to. But I think this is probably intended, as until this story she's been completely cold. It's heartwarming to read about her reawakened emotions and how they take a toll on her when she no longer sees the world in black and white.
Sebastian was turned into a vampire against his will. And he does seem to have spent a goodly amount of his immortality moping. However, this all changes when he meets Kaderin and he acknowledges that maybe everything does happen for a reason, as if he wasn't a vampire he would never have met her. I absolutely loved his reunion with his brother Nikolai - the vampire who turned him.
I will admit when I started reading I wasn't sure about the setting - the Talisman's Hie. But I really got into it. And the scene where they have to get the object from the minefield - very upsetting, as each competitor is prepared to sacrifice the others to win the box of Nagas. Knowing what the prize is you can see why the competitors are all prepared to fight so desperately for it. Kaderin wants to save her sisters, Bowen the werewolf wants to save his mate, Sebastian considers going back in time to save his family. When the stakes are that high you can understand the ruthlessness of their behaviour.
Things I love about Kresley Cole's books.
- The banter between the characters, everyone is just so darn witty and NRFTW is no exception.
"We've established that you can't kill me."Which means you can be quite happily reading along, with a smile on your face. Then all of a sudden something terrible happens and it's all the more shocking.
She glared at him over her shoulder. "I ache to make those your last words."
- The fact that I actually believe it when the characters say I love you. I think in all of her books the relationship feels organic. When they get to the 'I love yous' I believe they mean them.
- The variety of her characters. Here we have demons, sirens, witches, vampires, gods, elves. Each species has its defining characteristics. But every single person we meet, no matter their species, is an individual. (Frustratingly this leaves you with a shedload of characters that you want to know more about - Regin, Aiden, Nix, Furie ( I SO want Furie to come back), Cindey - I could go on and on so I'll stop there.). Even the minor characters have intriguing hints dropped about their stories.
- And I like how with each book we find out a little more about the Valkyries and other supernatural races. For example in this book we discover that valkyries often have a secret fear.
This leads me to my one niggle about the series, which is that sometimes it's like there are too many balls being juggled. And some of the intriguing hints feel a little half-finished, something that I just didn't quite get. The books are that good though, that I have a tendency to shrug my shoulders and assume that all will become clear in a few books time. These are things like:-
Why do Valkyries have to pay a tithe to get into their own house? What is up with Nix's hair? Either strange men are cutting it, or she's being told to cut it -I feel like I've missed something.
Already read A Hunger Like No Other and Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night. So expect their reviews soon. And I have the next two books bought and ready to go. This is probably one of the best PNR series around at the moment and I recommend it highly.