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Plenty to enjoy in this novel which cries out for further instalments. Something like a fractured horror-tale, with a wink and a nod to classic horror tales the characters are fresh and modern takes on themes such as the vampiire (or vampire), mummies, a driven scientist, a museum curator, ghouls banshees, secret cabals of mad monks, the devil, etc. The pace is lively without being hectoring. There is time to set up the story and plenty to keep you interested as it happens. Some of the characters are barely sketched in. I look forward to hearing more about the witch and the half-Russalka who help out at the surgery. I hope their frequent mentions mean that Ms Shaw is well into writing Book 2.
Greta is a bit myopic, to ensure the requisite dangerous situations. I worried about her driving when she had barely slept in days, for example. Her willingness to feel guilty for things that have nothing to do with her is a bit tiresome. Overall it's interesting to have a protagonist who heals monsters rather than slating them (mostly). The minor theme that life is better with friends, and the relationships that develop between secondary characters - not just with Greta - give the story a welcome upbeat flavour, amid the dark doings & deaths.
If you enjoy Ben Aronovitch, Benedict Jacka, Ilona Andrews, or Faith Hunter this is likely to appeal. Or Grimm or Penny Dreadful tv shows.
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Would you try another book written by Vivian Shaw or narrated by Suzannah Hampton?
It is probably a no to both the author and the narrator. I was not a giant fan of either of them.
What will your next listen be?
Not the sequel to this one that is for sure. I'll probably head back to the epic fantasy or sci-fi genre. I hate to put the boot too hard into this book as the truth is I have way more misses than hits when I venture into the Urban Fantasy genre.
How could the performance have been better?
I feel like Suzannah Hampton did a poor job with the audio. She had a clear voice and was well-spoken but had no talent for voice acting. She just read everything in a dull monotone and made little to no distinction between regular prose and dialogue.
Another big issue was the way the POV transitions were handled in audio. There was no pause between switches which was actually a little confusing. A tiny pause would have made it clear a POV transition was occurring.
What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?
Just boredom and vague sense of disappointment that this one was not working for me as I do feel like the premise of the story was a good one.
Any additional comments?
I felt like the story had potential but the execution was poor. Shaw's writing felt weirdly formal and distant which made it hard for me to connect with any of the characters. Despite the fact that Greta is the headline character this book had more of an ensemble cast as the POV's jumped from Greta to her fellow cultist trackers. Lord Ruthven, a regular vampire. Francis Varney, a vampyre. Fastitocalon, a demon. All three are characters from literature Shaw has repurposed for the story! I actually felt like all the character had decent potential which only made it more frustrating that this story never worked for me.