01/10/2010. Contributed by Pauline Morgan
pub: Bantam Books/Transworld. 496 page paperback. Price: GBP 6.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-553-81892-5.
check out websites: www.orbitbooks.net and www.richellemead.com
I wonder if there is a correlation between the decline of church attendance and the rise of fiction that provides a vicarious thrill. Once a good preacher could hold his congregation enthralled by exhortations against sin and the dire threats of hell and damnation. We do not have that any longer. Even church-goers are subjected to a much gentler chiding. When vampires such as Nosferatu and Dracula first appeared in fiction they were the evil minions of the devil. They needed to be avoided, thwarted and destroyed. Then somewhere along the way, the glamour changed. In many novels, they were still dangerous, but more and more are merely misunderstood. It is now as possible to have a relationship with one as it is to marry someone Chinese. The exotic vampire has replaced the Arab sheik in fantastic romances.
With the rehabilitation of vampires, the door has opened for other supernatural creatures to emerge from the darkness. Werewolves and witches (male and female) have claimed their place as edgy, dangerous beings that it is okay to romance about. Angels have always held an ambiguous place in folklore. Not everyone sees them as benevolent. In ‘Angel’s Blood’ by Nalini Singh, to cross an angel is equally as dangerous as becoming the focus for a vampire’s blood lust. The next stage was obviously to try and make the actually evil supernatural beings sympathetic. This is the aim of Richelle Mead’s ‘Succubus’ novels.
The Seattle bookshop co-manager known as Georgina Kincaid is actually a centuries old succubus. Georgina sold her soul after her husband in Ancient Greece caught her in bed with his best friend and was preparing to kill himself. Her deal was that if everyone forgot she existed, she would become a succubus. At the time, she thought it a good bargain. The problem is that she gets her supernatural energy from the souls of humans during sex. Her victims enjoy themselves but she shortens their lives. She is not entirely happy with this, her primary job of corrupting humans, but she made a deal and there is no way out of her contract. It does mean though that she cannot have a meaningful relationship with a human as she will kill them by absorbing their soul. Therefore, she does not date. What we humans are unaware of is the hierarchy of supernatural immortals that live amongst us. Georgina answers to the archdemon, Jerome, who has evil dominion over Seattle and the surrounding area. Her best friends are Hugh, an imp whose job is as accountant for souls bought, and two vampires, Peter and Cody.
In this introductory novel, ‘Succubus Blues’, Georgina runs up against severe personal problems. Her favourite author, Seth Mortensen, comes to do a signing at the shop. After the classic faux pas, she finds that she is falling for him so grabs at the nearest good-looking male. She now has two humans who want to date her, who she likes but dare not even kiss for fear of corrupting them. To make matters worse, someone is killing immortals. First a vampire, then an angel. This is not supposed to be possible, until she discovers that a nephilim – a human/demon hybrid - is on the loose. Naturally, as there would be no story if she didn’t, Georgina decides that as her friends are in danger, she is going to find out what is going on.
Mead has succeeded in making her supernatural monsters sympathetic at the expense of the evil side of their nature. Despite their professions, Georgina and her immortal friends don’t seem to want to do what they are compelled to do, so we have a succubus with morals and vampires with ethics. The book is an enjoyable romp even though some of the plot twists are predictable. This is the kind of series that is likely to appeal to the readers of romance who like a bite to their fiction.
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