Tuesday, February 28, 2012

EMBRACED BY THE SHADOWS mayra calvani (Twilight Times Books)

Alana is a fantasy heroine in more ways that one. For a starts she a stunning twenty-two year old red-head with curly hair to her waist. But also the book opens with her starting her first job as a restaurant manager, her only qualification a bachelor's in philosophy, and the day before opening she is hanging out in her apartment and having drinks with her friends (not going crazy over last minute arrangements and taking a crash course in hospitality and accounting). And then the restaurant closes at midnight and the "manager" immediately leaves to go dancing with her friend and get drunk. If that isn't a fantasy world, I don't know what is. Meanwhile her best friend is "secretly" seeing a married man... by openly frequenting a hot nightclub with him on opening night. 

But never mind. If that sort of thing doesn't bother youthis is a nice retelling of the engenue and vampire trope. the plot progresses a little jumpily with leaps in time that I a not sure are meant to read as hours or days or just be completely non-linear.  But essentially Alana thinks she is sleep-walking and having hot dreams.  When of course she is really having not entirely consensual vampire-style lovin'. Sadash the vampire alternates between frightening, seducing and saving Alana like a good super-alpha-male should.

One part of this books I really appreciated was the very uncompromising approach to immortality which sets this story apart from the usual 'vampire as superpowers with fangs' romances. There are little flashes of subtlty like:

"Remember what you told me. The Devil is also an angel."

The story gets more complex in the second half. A strange love, a twisted friendship, a murder mystery. It also develops some implausible elements, like a gunshot at a party that nobody hears. Overall there is more to like than dislike in this story but it is an untidy melange of cliched and novel, romance and mystery, and a plot that seems to wander at times as if the author's intent changed as the story progressed.  That is why 'Embraced by the Shadows" ends up with a 3/5.