Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Day of the Dead by December Quinn

TITLE: Day of the Dead
AUTHOR: December Quinn
PUBLISHER: Ellora’s Cave
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 21k)
GENRE: Paranormal erotic romance
COST: $4.45

Vampire Santos Diaz wants one thing – to bring back his dead love Esperanza. In a voudou ceremony, he makes a deal with Baron Samedi, the guardian over the land of the dead. He wakes up with what looks like a clear message, a picture of his love’s tomb clutched in his hand. When he arrives there, however, he doesn’t find Esperanza. Instead, he runs into Yelina, the accountant for the bar he co-owns. Yelina has been in love with him for two years, while Santos has had his own soft feelings for her. Now, it looks like they are meant to be together. Until enemy vampires arrive to thwart his desires…

Though it doesn’t say so on the EC website, Day of the Dead actually takes place in the same world that the author created in her earlier book, Blood Will Tell. How do I know this, then? Because I read the first book. Did it help in appreciating this? No, not really. I almost wonder if it got in the way.

It’s difficult to tell if that particular omission is meant to make it look like the story is a standalone. Technically, it is. Santos (along with his business partner Edward) is the carryover character from the first book, but his presence from that is so minimal that I didn’t even remember him. I went back and did a search on the name to see if there was something I missed, and it only gets mentioned twice in the first book. Edward is far more important in the first book, but his role in this is tiny.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, almost halfway through the book, after Yelina and Santos have sex in the cemetery, they get ambushed by a group of vampires who are there for the sole purpose of bringing back Esperanza’s soul, either in her dead body or in Yelina’s. The author introduces some of the backstory that occurred in Blood Will Tell, but never in a way that really helps to understand what is going on in this. See, there was an evil vampire named Valentin who got defeated in the first book, and it seems that his followers are trying to regain some of the power they lost with his death, but what re-animating Esperanza’s soul has to do with that, I have no idea. I was never entirely sure if that had something to do with the offering Santos made or about regaining power or something else entirely. As a result, it ends up muddling the latter half of the story.

I rated the story as high as I did, however, because the prose is lush and evocative. She creates a moody scene in her opening pages that engages the reader immediately. There’s also no disjoin when it comes to the sex, flowing naturally from the passion infused in the characters. I was enthralled with the first two chapters, eager to see where it was going to go. Ultimately, it went in a different direction than I would have preferred, but the heroine didn’t fall into some of the usual traps that usually befall women in shorter stories. I liked her, enough that I stayed involved in the story during sections that weren’t quite as strong as the beginning, and even during the last chapters when Santos started exclaiming he would die if he didn’t get Yelina.

This was worth it for the author’s prose. She really does know her way around her words.

Readability

8/10 – Solid prose, a tad on the lush side, very mild head hopping

Hero

6/10 – I liked him a lot more before he started in on the if I can’t have you, I’ll die rhetoric.

Heroine

7/10 – Smart enough to run when it looked like all hell was breaking loose in her life.

Entertainment value

7/10 – Moody and romantic, though unclear backstory and over the top emotions mar an otherwise evocative read.

World building

8/10 – Questions only arise with the unclear action halfway through the story that twists it into a new direction

TOTAL:

36/50

1 comment:

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