Sunday, May 13, 2007

A Hunger Like No Other, by Kresley Cole [2]


A HUNGER LIKE NO OTHER isn't bad for a paranormal romance. It really isn't. It just reminded me why I don't read vampire/warewolf/etc. stories from romance authors as much as historical romances. A personal fault, I've read a few accomplished scifi/fantasy (sff) from very engrossing worldbuilding authors, and romance authors just don't compare. The immersing gravity and rich fabric of the lore and history from sff authors are far superior. Unfortunately, good sff authors also desperately need a kick in the gut in the love/romance department because they either: (a) ignore it, or (b) write it in a very shallow way.

A HUNGER LIKE NO OTHER relays most of the lore of the world in the dialogues between characters, all of it very satirical, light-hearted. The lore just didn't come alive as a result. I prefer my fantasy novels relaying the lore in interesting, descriptive ways via action, not via exposition or a character's dialogue obviously inserted to educate the reader on the world. A HUNGER LIKE NO OTHER contains plenty of dialogue and exposition explaining the lore in a very satirical way, and it was hard getting over the suspension of disbelief factor, even for someone who reads sff avidly. Even Lachlain's estate in Scotland didn't seem =real=, didn't come =alive=. One moment the estate is this expansive, well-guarded inaccessible stronghold, while the next the Valkyrie are tearing down the gate and the castle's door because they were able to trace its location from Emma's cell phone.

I found the amazon-like Valkyrie very annoying and hard to digest, always bringing up questions about the relative power of the different species in Kresley Cole's world. One moment 3 strong Valkyrie (Annika, Regin, Lucia) are having problems with a demon Vampire, the next they're this ungodly kick-butt and indestructible race of amazon women able to easily imprison Lachlain's brother and defeat Lachlain. I had to wonder why the Valkyrie aren't the dominant species here even with their lower numbers. Nix took irritability to new bounds, all-sage and loopy, like she had an answer for everything. Don't get me started on our protective Valkyrie Annika. The big and imposing Wroth appears at the end and suddenly he seems more powerful than anyone there, certainly more powerful than Lachlain's brother.

A HUNGER LIKE NO OTHER also didn't make me want to read any more of Kresley Cole's Immortal series, definitely not the next one featuring Kaderin. From the little we saw of Kaderin in A HUNGER LIKE NO OTHER, she's our obligatory cold, kick-butt heroine, and I just can't identify with that. Bowen was the most interesting supporting character in A HUNGER LIKE NO OTHER. In fact, after Emma, Bowen is the next most interesting character.

Certainly, A HUNGER LIKE NO OTHER excels in the sexy-saucy-sensual department. I did enjoy our heroine's character; Emmaline oozes sex appeal, sass and a humorous wit. There's a scene where she's walking towards Lachlain in the lobby of a hotel wearing a tight skirt, and the book describes the scene from both Emma's point of view and Lachlain's point of view. It was charged with a sexual energy that really defined the novel. If only the lore was as interesting or the plotting as engaging. But then again I guess vivid settings, captivating world building and gripping plotting aren't marquee characteristics of a romance novel anyway.

Our hero Lachlain isn't nearly as interesting as Emma, other than for his obvious size in every respect. He's been tortured and feels the emptiness of lacking his soul mate for 1200 years. As a result, his character is reduced to two aspects really: vengeful towards his torturers of a 150 years, and protective, overbearing and lustful towards his identified soulmate. The later overshadowing the former. Both aspects contain his Lykae/warewolf bestial nature, perfect for the "love" scenes, ably satisfying Emma.

All the trite elements of a paranormal genre are certainly here -- the tortured hero with a brutal past (literally), the characters all having soul mates, the hero identifying his mate yet the heroine initially reluctant to reciprocate, and plenty of blood-sucking.

The Story, possible SPOILERS.

Vampires torture Lachlain, the king of the Lykae (a species of werewolves), in the catacombs with the fires of hell draining his life only to have his immortality constantly bring him back to life for the next round of burning death. I thought there could have been more descriptions of the catacombs and the nature of Lachlain's torture without being graphic. But unfortunately, we're treated to a very perfunctory description of the setting in the catacombs and a shallow portrayal of the nature of Lachlain's torture (other than the resulting pain and building vengeance).

When Lachlain scents his One Mate - Emmaline (half Valkyrie, half Vampire) - he finds the strength to escape his incarceration and capture Emma to claim her as her mate, the woman he's been searching for close to 1200 years. The resulting chapters devolve into a pattern: Emma is thirsty for blood, Lachlain offers himself, she drinks, both get off from the experience, rinse and repeat. Her need to drink blood and sustain/heal herself is always at the forefront of the plotting from beginning to end.

They share a feral and bestial sexual experience under a full moon on his estates and she begins to settle down there after that night. The feral experience under the moon supposedly officially claims Emma as Lachlain's mate but otherwise I'm not sure of its relevance. Then her Valkyrie family suddenly arrive for her, defeating and injuring Lachlain. Shortly after the Valkyrie arrive, vampires suddenly arrive at the scene for Emma as well, but most of them get easily slaughtered by the Valkyrie. Unfortunately, Emma willingly reaches out to one of the last living Vampire there. The vampire consequently captures Emma and traces (teleports) her away to Helvita where she meets her evil Vampire father. Following Emma's capture, the Valkyrie at Lachlain's estate suddenly depart gaily and leave it up to Lachlain to find and retrieve Emma, holding Lachlain's brother imprisoned as ransom elsewhere.

I found the protracted ending unsatisfying and the devices in the plotting to arrive at that ending dumb. By the time the book finally ends, the Valkyrie are watching movies and pretending to eat popcorn merrily with Lachlain & Emmaline. I'm not sure if Lachlain didn't want to act against the Valkyrie when they wouldn't let him see a weakened Emma or really couldn't do anything against the Valkyrie even if he wanted to. I suspect more of the later. His brother was easily subdued by them afterall. And Lachlain seemed to easily forget that they held his only remaining family member (his brother) prisoner. He demands for Emma first instead.

Anyway, besides the sensual energy exuding from Emma, the book was pretty weak.

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