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Saturday, January 7, 2012


Author:  E. S. Moore (Pen Name for Eric S. Moore)
Plot Type:  Urban Fantasy (UF)
Publisher and Titles:  Kensington
          To Walk the Night (1/2012)
          Tainted Night, Tainted Blood (7/2012)
          Blessed by a Demon's Mark (12/2012)
          Blood from a Silver Cross (e-book only, 6/2014)  

NOTE: This post contains reviews of the first three novels in this series. At that point, I decided that the quality was too consistently disappointing to keep reading the series. I will, however, continue to update the book list above as new books are published.          

     In this universe, humans (known as purebloods) are aware of the vampires and werewolves who live among them, and they are painfully cognizant of the fact that all purebloods are considered prey by their fang-flashing neighbors. The vamps and shifters own the night, while the purebloods generally take care of their outdoor business during the daytime. Most of the vamps live in Houses, each headed by a vampire count or countess, and most of the werewolves live in servitude to the vampires, serving as their daytime protectors. 

     The vampire mythology in this series includes several traditional elements: sun sensitivity, strength and speed, and a deadly allergy to silver. Werewolves, too, are terminally allergic to silver. These vamps depart from the usual tradition regarding their fangs. In this world, each and every time a vampire's fangs descend, they break through the gums and bleed very heavily—quite a messy situation. One other uncommon part of the mythology is that vampires and werewolves can't share blood, and vampires can't share blood with other vampires. If a vamp or werewolf drinks the blood of another species, he or she turns into violent, non-sentient monster who must be put to death. 

     Oh yes, one more thing. Vampire bites are not sensual experiences in this world. Here, Kat explains: "Vampire bites weren't like in all the old stories. There were no pheromones in the saliva or anesthetics or anything like that. The bites hurt. Badly. Only the sick and perverted could enjoy that king of pain." (p. 150) Despite the pain, many purebloods voluntarily serve as blood sources for the vamps, and if the vamps can't get enough volunteers, they kidnap, imprison, and drain any purebloods they can catch.

     The series is set in Columbus, Ohio, where a female vampireKat Reddinghas made it her mission to kill as many evil vamps and shifters as possible. She is known as Lady Deatha one-woman whirlwind of destruction, kind of like a vampiric Lone Rangerwho slinks around taking down entire vampire Houses, killing every single vamp and werewolf on the premises.

     Like most UF heroines, Kat has a tragic past. Some years earlier, when Kat and her brother were happy-go-lucky purebloods, they were successful vampire hunters. Unfortunately, they pushed their luck too far one night and were captured by the very vampires they were hunting. Their captors turned Kat into a vampire and Thomas into a werewolf. When Thomas attacked their captors during his first full moon, they force-fed him vampire blood, which turned him into an insane monster. When Kat finally escaped from her captivity, she rescued a teen-aged boy, Ethan, whose parents were killed by vampires. Since then, Ethan has become Kat's agoraphobic assistant. He stays in his laboratory in the sub-basement of Kat's house, designing and making silver weapons for Kat to use on her nightly hunts. Here, Kat muses about Ethan's role in her life: "Ethan did everything down there. He modified my Glock, as well as my Honda. he crafted my sword, my knives. He pretty much made sure I had everything I could ever want when it came to vampire and werewolf hunting." (p. 10)

            NOVEL 1:  To Walk the Night            
     As the series opens, Kat receives an invitation to visit the Luna Cult, a group of werewolves and purebloods who glorify the whole werewolf lifestyle. A local vamp House has captured the cult's leader, and the Cult wants Kat to help them get him back safely. At first, Kat refuses, because she hates werewolves as much as she hates vampires, but she eventually agrees to help them out because they seem to be relatively peaceful. The plot follows Kat as she and the Luna Cult leader, Jonathan Alucard, plan their strategy and carry it out with disastrous results for almost everyone. A complication arises in the form of Adrian Davis, a werewolf who left the Luna Cult because it wasn't militant enough for him. Adrian wants the werewolves to revolt against the vampires and start their own House, something unheard of in this supernatural world. Adrian also makes a few personal demands on Kat, with predictably negative results.

     I wish that I could like this series more, but Kat's character is way too unlikeable and unbelievable. Kat is just one single vampire, but somehow she is able to sweep through entire vampire Houses, killing all of the vampires and werewolves without getting a scratch on her. How is that possible? She has no special powersjust the same strength and speed as any other vampire. Then, there's her one-note personality. Kat's one and only mood is relentless grimness, and her permanent facial expression is a ferocious scowl. Her knee-jerk reaction to just about every event in her life is immediate ragenot just disapproval or dissatisfaction or reproach, but flat-out rage, every time. Since Kat has absolutely no friends or acquaintances (except for poor Ethan, who frequently bears the brunt of her anger), we don't see her interact with anyone in a friendly wayor even in a neutral or civil mannerat any point in the entire book. The story line itself isn't bad; in fact, it got better as it progressed. But the total lack of dimensionality and credibility in the main character spoiled the story for me. I can only hope that Kat makes a few friends in the next book.

            NOVEL 2:  Tainted Night, Tainted Blood            
     In book 1, Kat was a stone-cold, merciless, and highly successful hunter and assassin; in book 2, she is an overly emotional bungler who makes countless mistakes that get her and her friends beaten to a pulp and nearly killed. As the story opens, someone—or something—is savagely murdering the vampires and werewolves of Central Ohio. When Jonathan, the Luna Cult leader, asks Kat to team up with him and Adrian to catch and punish the killers, she reluctantly agrees. Eventually, Kat has a major confrontation with the murdering beasts, who turn out to be vampire/werewolf hybrids (aka the Tainted). In the midst of the battle, she realizes that their leader is someone near and dear to her from her past, someone she thought was dead. From that point on, Kat goes off the deep end—going from one TSTL moment to another, driven by her deep need to save her loved one and dragging her unfortunate friends along with her in a path that leads to trauma for everyone

     Three additional story threads are woven into this main plot line. One focuses on Kat's relationship with Ethan and his demon, Beligral, who tricks Kat into a hellish contract. Even though Ethan repeatedly warns Kat not to make a deal with the demon, she heedlessly disregards his admonitions. The second story line takes Kat into a mysterious town called Delai (an anagram of "ideal")—a Twilight Zone version of Grover's Corners—where blandly "happy" people show no fear of night-prowling creatures, and Kat finds a few moments of peace. Unfortunately, Levi, who seems to be Delai's leader, comes across as a total creep, always wearing a smarmy smile that obviously masks a multitude of dark secrets. The final—and most insubstantial story thread—concerns a group of human (pureblood) fanatics called the Left Hand (of God) who sneak up on supernaturals, inject them with silver and blood thinners, and then cut their throats so that they quickly bleed to death. Perhaps this group will become more important in future books

     Throughout this book, Kat makes foolish, dangerous decisions—one right after another.  In my review of book 1, I criticized Kat's character as being too cold and filled with rage. The amped-up rage is still there, always ready to brim over, but now other emotions are swamping her as well. She seems to have no middle range where her personal feelings are concerned. If Kat were my friend, I'd try to talk her into Valium and anger management therapy

     The story has a number of illogical moments. For example, when Kat is badly injured and remains at the Luna Cult den for four days, she returns home to find Ethan, her long-time apprentice and only friend, hysterical because he had no idea where she was. The illogical aspect of this situation is that Kat never called Ethan—or had someone else call him—to let him know that she was O.K. Here's how the conversation goes

     "Where have you been?" he asked nearly stumbling over himself as he rose from the was obvious he hadn't slept since the last time I had seen him."
     "Out," I said, easing my way across the kitchen. I just wanted to go upstairs to my bath." (p. 183

     Inexplicably, Kat constantly claims that Ethan means everything to her, but she continually lets him down and treats him like dirt all through this story

     Here's another example of illogical thinking: This one relates to the bath that Kat is so eager for in the previously described scene. Now remember, Kat's body has been sliced and diced to the point that she can hardly walk, even after four days, and she has hundreds of stitches all over her body, particularly on her back (where multiple internal organs were badly damaged), but what does she do as soon as she gets home? She runs a hot, bubble bath and submerges herself in it even though anyone with half a brain knows that the worst thing you can do to stitches is to get them wet. This woman is supposed to be very smart, but in this book she keeps showing her ignorance. 

     All through the book, Kat keeps doing dumb things even though she knows they're stupid. For example, she goes off to a major confrontation in a badly injured state without feeding and then can't hold up her end of the battle: "My vision swam and I cursed myself for being so stupid. I should have fed the night before instead of sulking in my room...." (p. 210). Too bad that it is her friends who suffer for her thoughtlessness. In the end, Kat is so disgusted with herself that she runs away from her life. This heroine, for me, is so unlikable at this point that I'm not sure if I can dredge up enough enthusiasm to read book 3, where she tries to build a carefree life in Delai. I can't imagine that will work out, especially since she still has to deal with the consequences of her demon deal.  

           NOVEL 3:  Blessed by a Demon's Mark            
     This book reads like one extremely long and anguished interior monologue as Kat continues to alienate and endanger her friends, antagonize her enemies, and make one TSTL decision after another until by the end she has managed to trap herself into seemingly inextricable contracts with a scary vampire, a powerful werewolf, and a scheming demon. The story begins as Kat decides to leave Delai and go back temporarily to her old life. She's been living under Levi's roof in Delai for many months, but now the demon Beligral is calling her through the mark he placed behind her ear, and she has to go back home to Ethan's laboratory in order to answer that summons. Later in the book, Beligral provides the means by which Kat discovers who and what Levi, the Delai leader really is. 

     When Kat disappeared without a trace at the end of book 2, Jonathan sent one of his werewolves (Jeremy) to live at her house to protect Ethan. Of course, the first thing Kat does when she gets home is to threaten poor, one-armed Jeremy as if he were a dangerous enemy and berate Ethan for allowing a werewolf to live in her house. She never apologizes for her lengthy absence, never tells Ethan (or anyone else) where she has been, and never explains why she didn't let Ethan know that she was alive and safe. Instead, she rages at Ethan, Jeremy, and Jonathan for no apparent reason other than her own  uncontrolled inner turmoil.

     When Ethan tells Kat that a powerful female vampire has a death contract out on her, she is determined, as always, to take out the vamp alone, with no help from anyone. As you would expect, that doesn't work out well for her. Then, she strikes another bargain with the demon Beligral, even though Ethan begs her not to do it. Finally, she goes off on her own to take down a powerful werewolf, and you can probably guess the sad outcome of that little adventure.

     Kat tells the story in the first person, and on each page she makes liberal use of the personal pronouns, "I" and "me"—because everything is always about Kat. Although she occasionally mouths perfunctory concerns about Jonathan and Ethan, all she really thinks about is herself and how events and people affect her own warped perception of the world. In most first-person narratives, the speaker tells the story through descriptions of others' actions and words along with his or her own perceptions, but Kat is so self-centered that she describes others only as they personally affect her.  

     Without exaggeration, I can say that on almost every page, Kat tells herself "I should have done this" or "I shouldn't have done that" or "why did (or didn't) I do that" or words to that effect. She always regrets her stupidity, but she never learns from her mistakes; she just repeats them over and over and over again. As in the previous two books, Kat invariably lashes out without thought for anyone else's feelings or personal safety. She is probably the most unsympathetic, unlikable "heroine" (really, an anti-heroine) that I've come across in any urban fantasy series. These books are hard to read when the heroine is such an obnoxious lamebrain and the reader is forced to "listen" to hundreds of pages of her angst-filled, self-centered soliloquies. This will be my last review of a novel in this series.

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