Demon Soul by Christine Ashworth isn’t run-of-the-mill paranormal. Ashworth has taken the genre and given it refreshingly original treatment. We have Rose Walters, who has made a bit of a mess of her life so far and nearly died, being given a chance to come back so she can save Gabriel Caine. Gabriel and his brother Justin are suspicious of her at first as they can sense that she is more than human now. So is Gabriel. He and Justin are tribreds, a mixture of human, demon and fae. Throw in Gabriel’s ex, Satine, who has taken something he desperately needs back, and you have a very interesting story as Rose and Gabriel join forces to solve the very dangerous problem that faces him.
It’s a gritty story. Rose is no angel with a history of drug abuse. But she’s courageous and likeable and very determined. She learns what family love can be like and that’s very heartwarming. All the characters have depth that makes them fascinating. They’re all flawed which makes them all the more human and sympathetic. You get drawn into their conflicts and really care what happens to them. And it helps that some of them are rather sexy too! The plot is far from predictable in this battle of good versus evil. The book is confidently and persuasively written. It’s no problem to suspend your disbelief and accept the paranormal as completely normal. There are more books to come in this series which is seriously good news.
Werewolf Descent by Elizabeth Jean Kolodziej is the second in the Last Witch series, following on from Vampyre Kisses. Faith, the last witch in the world, and Trent, her loving Irish vampire boyfriend, have moved to live near New York for peace and quiet after their last exciting adventure. But along comes Vincent, the psychic vampire. Instead of feeding on blood, he feeds on auras, on energy. This is a very original twist to the paranormal genre and one that works extremely well. Vincent is also after Faith’s heart, in the nice way, although that’s not nice for the loyal Trent. Faith is altogether too quick to find the newcomer attractive. It has to be said she’s not the most likeable character at times, although she’s always lively and fascinating. A love triangle develops. Elsewhere, werewolves are being kidnapped and their prince, Zou Tai, comes to ask for help. An alchemist is involved somewhere too. There is action of all sorts in this book.
This is a constantly snaking story, twisting and turning and never predictable. It is narrated by three different characters, Faith, Trent and Zou Tai. This works very well and lends interest to the story with the insights we gain into these three people and how they perceive each other. There are many fascinating characters in the book, Oran the cat being just one example. Another clever touch is the weaving in of Greek mythology with the paranormal. It’s an entertaining and confidently written book, and we’re left impatient to know what happens next.
The Vampire’s Quest by Damian Serbu injects originality into paranormal fiction. St Michel appears to vampire Xavier and sends him on a quest. Xavier’s emotionally turbulent lover and fellow vampire, Thomas, is uneasy about this, and rightly so. Xavier encounters his dying friend Anne who has supernatural powers. She is dying and beseeches Xavier to free her enslaved grandson. As Thomas says, Xavier is ‘the vampire that cared about the world and the people in it’. He will do anything for his friend, even though this particular action is against the vampire ethic. The ethic means vampires can feed off evil humans, but can’t otherwise interfere in human events. Transgressing vampires ace the ire and punishment of the Vampire Council if they disobey. Thomas fears for Xavier and so gets Anthony to help him, another vampire and friend. Can they keep Xavier from facing the terrifying consequences of his loyal actions.
Damian Serbu himself describes his writing as gay horror. There is darkness and violence in the novel, certainly, but it’s not too disturbing. This is writing that’s hard to categorise. This is a modern novel, although it’s set in the last century. The author’s love of history adds an extra dimension to it too. It’s brutal but also tender. I hope the gay element won’t put off any readers since the love between Xavier and Thomas is moving and powerful and always sensitively described. The relationship is strongly in the background but the focus in this book is on friendships – those between Xavier and Anne, between Anthony and Thomas – and also on the sibling love betwen Xavier and Catherine. Loyalty is tested. There are many layers in this absorbing and richly constructed book.