Tuesday, 30 March 2010

CBR 41: "Ravenous: The Dark Forgotten" by Sharon Ashwood

Publisher: Signet
Page count: 354 pages
Date begun: March 29th, 2010
Date finished: March 30th, 2010

Holly Carver is a witch living in the little town of Fairview. She comes from a long line of powerful witches, but damaged her own powers badly during a spell when she was little, and therefore uses what little witchcraft she has left to banish ghosts from old buildings in return for tuition money. She is helped in her ghost busting business by Alessandro Caravelli, a six centuries old vampire who clearly wants to be more than just a friend to her, but knows that if he ever bites her, his addictive venom will turn her into a mindless slave, not the independent and strong-willed woman he has grown to love.

Holly experiences a rough couple of days. She is nearly killed saving her professor boyfriend and some of his students from a sentient, evil house. Then said boyfriend asks her to sell her ancient house that has been in her family for countless generations, something she can't do, because the root of her (now limited) powers reside there. When she refuses, he dumps her, unable to deal with her supernatural abilities. Several students are found dead around campus, and a giant (nearly person-sized) mouse manifesting in Holly's house turns out to actually be a demon, who wants to take over Fairview, and from there, the world.

Alessandro, in return, has to deal with the return of his ruler, the vampire queen Omara. She's none too happy about his divided loyalties, but also wants to make sure Holly can help her banish her demon nemesis back to the supernatural prison it escaped from. An ancestor of Holly's helped her banish the demon once before, and while she is none too happy about Alessandro's affection for Holly, she will use it to get Holly on her side, if need be.

Ravenous: The Dark Forgotten is one of many paranormal books I picked up in a sale at my local fantasy/sci-fi bookstore, and it has languished on my book shelf for many months. The cover is, like on so many paranormal books, grossly misleading. I can only assume that the cover is meant to portray Holly, although she never wears anything even vaguely as skimpy and tarty as the top on the cover, but there is one mention of her ritual silver dagger, and she has dark hair, so I guess that's as far as the cover artist needed to stretch themselves. I'm assuming the title refers to the ravenous hunger felt both by the victims possessed by the demon Geneva - who seem to feel an all-consuming literal hunger after she kisses them, and that of the victims of the vampires, who once they experience a vampire bite become ravenous for sex, and will do anything the vampire who bit them wishes, submerging their own will to that of their vampire master.

The book can be classified both as a paranormal fantasy and as a paranormal romance, depending on whether the reader thinks the most important part of the story is the couple getting together, or their defeating the evil demon. I personally felt the romance aspect was secondary in the book, and most of the book is Holly coming to terms with first the limitations of her stunted power, then later the possibility of her full powers returning, and how she is going to support herself in the future rather than with whether or not she's going to find true love with Alessandro.

Sharon Ashwood's book was not the most groundbreaking paranormal fantasy I have read, but she creates a nice world, and sketches some good characters. I must admit that the revelation of some of the bad guys did not exactly make me gasp in surprise, it was all rather predictable, but I was never bored reading the book, and will probably pick up the sequels at some point. It appears as if Ashwood, like Kelley Armstrong, instead of writing all her books about the same characters, has new protagonists in each book, all loosely inter-connected in the same world. As far as I can see, her second book is about the cop who gets demon-possessed in this one, and the third appears to be about Holly's older sister. That can keep things from getting boring, so I will look out for her books, but I doubt I will rush out to buy them as soon as they are released.

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