I am saddened by these books.
They started out really well as seen in Renee’s review of the first book. When the characters and the stories were introduced to us in the first book I was intrigued, interested and eager to read more. As we said, they’re cheesy, they’re fun, they’re cheesy, they’re interesting and they’re cheesy? Did I mention they’re cheesy? Because it’s really good cheese. The world is huge, it’s diverse and it has vast potential – in short, it has so many of the things guaranteed to keep me hooked on a book, despite being as diverse as a neo-nazi rally (which, frankly, is nothing new, sadly).
Unfortunately the series has derailed. It was racing along the tracks nicely, it was fun, interesting and compelling then CRUNCH derail. So you haul it back on the tracks, get immersed again and CRUNCH you’re jerked out of it again. It’s happening so often now that it’s really ruining my enjoyment of these books. As the series progresses I’m getting less and less interested as the characters annoy me more and more
And, for me, it is the characters that are the main problem. In particular, the maturity level that was a problem in the first book just keeps on being a problem. Merit, a 28 year old woman, frequently makes me think of a 17 year old (it’s like reverse Vampire Diaries – there everyone is 17 but acts 30). She refers to the guys around her as “boys” regardless of their age, she plays passive aggressive games and is inclined to be sulky and a trifle childish.
Morgan, a 70 year old vampire of Navarre House, continues the theme but takes it to the next level – he’s sulky, pouty, emotional, passive aggressive and inclined to temper tantrums, sulks and, yes, more pouting. I keep waiting for him to yell “I hate you!” stomp up the stairs, slam his bedroom door and play music really loudly because no-one understand him!!!!
but the prize goes to Eric – sorry, Ethan (can’t think why I get this blond, Swedish vampire confused with Eric, no no I cannot). Ethan is nearly 400 years old going on 18. He pouts, he whines, he’s emotional, he has little tantrums and he often shows zero ability for long term planning. He has none of the depth, experience or nuance you would expect of a Master Vampire of his age and supposed power.
In fact throughout the books there is no sense of Ethan’s age or power. Sure, his House obeys him, but outside the House he neither demands not commands respect. The shapeshifters treat him like staff, other House leaders have virtually summoned him to attend them. He is deferential to Merit’s father and other wealthy human and shapeshifter families – despite being older, richer and more powerful than them. He is not respected and, frankly, he doesn’t do anything or act in a way that would imply he is due respect. He begs for attention, he doesn’t command it, he follows, he doesn’t lead, he asks to be heard rather than demanding people listen. Which doesn’t necessarily make for a bad character – but it makes for a poor 400 year old master vampire.
Maybe, again, it’s because I have a low tolerance for this kind of characterisation, but I’m sorely tempted to grab all the characters, give them a slap and tell them to act their age, not their shoe size.
I’m also not impressed by, well, the intelligence level displayed. Merit has some clever idea that are treated as being the very apex of craftiness when often her plotting is more of a Baldrick level. Celia is treated as some Moriarty like figure, despite her plotting rarely being complex enough to tax Watson, let alone Holmes. Oh and we have a computer expert who is less able to cover his tracks than I am! Eri- ah, Ethan is another prize winner here – 400 years of experience and his plots are weak, with little guarantees of success, reactive and he makes so many short term mistakes and missteps that I almost get contact embarrassment from him doing it wrong all the time.
The frequent lauding of, frankly, rather banal and basic manipulations just makes me think that all of these characters aren’t all that bright. Which, again, when talking about immortal vampires, apex predators and other supposedly master manipulators just falls flat for me.
My reviews often sound negative, because there’s more to say about things you dislike than things you like. So I will say that, yes I still like these books. Yes, I’m still enjoying them and yes, I will keep reading them and, no, I don’t regret reading them. Following Merit as she negotiates the evolving world she lives in, comes to terms with being a vampire and follows House Cadogan as it interacts with other Houses and other supernatural races – who themselves face issues as they become known to the humans – is still a fascinating tale and it’s still a deep, varied and powerful world.
But the characterisations are ruining it for me. I’m saddened because this series could have been much much more than it is and I do so hate a wonderful piece of cheese being so badly used.
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