1/12/2010. Contributed by Pauline Morgan
pub: Bantam Press. 312 page small enlarged paperback. Price: GBP 6.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-55382-031-7.
check out websites: www.rbooks.co.uk and www.richellemead.com
For a series to be successful it is important to catch the imagination of the reader with an unusual idea. Amongst the plethora of adult novels featuring supernatural creatures that is becoming harder to do. To settle on one of the denizens of the dark side is brave. Vampires have been around in fiction for a very long time and there are now so many variations of good, bad, indifferent or misunderstood that it is possible to choose the variation before selecting the book. With traditionally evil creatures, the author needs to decide, good, bad or inept. By going with a succubus, Richelle Mead has had to make Georgina Kincaid a reluctant stealer of souls with a distinct moral streak. After all, the reader needs to identify with the lead character and we don't want to think that there may be readers out there who want to wallow in gore and sin. Sex, however, is a different matter. These books are aimed at the female reader so to be able to seduce any man you want is every girl's dream, isn't it?
The next decision to be made with a series is whether it will have a finite end or go on until either the author gets bored or sales drop off. Publishers certainly like series as popular ones can guarantee sales. Not every author does. This series could be either. As Georgina was born a human in Ancient Greece, there are two thousand years of history that can be played with, in the same way that Chelsea Quinn Yarbro does by filling in the history of her vampire, the Comte de St. Germain. Alternatively, Mead could have a happy ending in mind.
Many series consist of standalone novels. In each new book, the main characters are introduced anew. The reader can take up any one and not feel that they have missed a host of essential information. Crime series commonly follow this format. For the reader that comes in at the beginning of the series, it is more fun to see a character develop and grow as more and more misfortunes are heaped upon them. Laurell K. Hamilton does this with her ‘Anita Blake’ series, now at least fifteen volumes. Each novel, though, has to contain a resolved plot line even if there are ideas left hanging to be followed up next time, if both author and publisher want to.
In these ‘Succubus’ novels, of which ‘Succubus Shadows’ is the fourth, there is a conclusion at the end of each volume with the potential for more mayhem later. Georgina is making progress in her relationships but not always in the right direction. In this series, she is the principle succubus working in Seattle under the auspices of the archdemon Jerome. Her supernatural friends are two vampires, Cody and Peter, and Hugh, an imp. He flatmate is Roman, a nephilim, who as the offspring of a human and a fallen angel - in this case, Jerome - should have been exterminated. He is living in Seattle as part of a deal when he and Georgina helped free Jerome from a summoning in ‘Succubus Heat’. She has human friends as well as she works as a manager of a bookshop. It was there that she met Seth Mortensen, an author that she fell in love with. It was a doomed romance as sex with him would shorten his life and she is not prepared to do that. They had a brief fling while Jerome was summoned and her succubus abilities were nullified. Now he is going to marry her friend Maddie who wants to drag Georgina into the wedding preparations.
She is depressed enough about her love-life but to make things worse another succubus, Simone, turns up, ostensibly on holiday. Jerome is suspicious of her motives and sets Roman to follow her around. Then Georgina starts getting visitations that cause her to sleepwalk. While they are trying to work out if the two are connected, Georgina is abducted by a pair of Oneroi, manipulators of dreams. To her friends, she has disappeared. In reality, she is in another dimension being fed dreams. Some are true, some are false and some have been manipulated so that she does not know if they are true or not. The common denominator is the bad things she has done or could have done. Basically, it is mental torture.
This is a book where we learn a lot more about the main character and it is skilfully handled, especially as it is a first person narrative and Mead has to show us what her friends are doing to find and try to rescue her as she is helpless to affect her situation. The biggest problem with this series is Seth. He is a dreamy character, often disappearing into his writing. As a result, he does not have the impact he should have if Georgina is deeply and irrevocably in love with him. Some of the lesser characters, like Cody and his obsession with a Goth girl, have more presence. Generally, though, this is a light, pacey read worth getting immersed in at the end of a tiring day.
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