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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Review: Heart of Darkness

Title: Heart of Darkness
Authors: Gena Showalter, Maggie Shayne, Susan Krinard
Page Count: 328 pages
Publisher: HQN
Genre: paranormal romance
Copy for review compliments of the publisher via Netgalley.com
This book will be released on December 31, 2009

50 words or less: 3 longer stories, each from a different popular author of paranormal romance. Remember that box of chocolates analogy from my review of Shifter? Strap in, folks.

Ooooookay. Let me start off with a little more information that will be helpful in deciding whether or not to read this or not. First, Gena Showalter's story in this book, titled The Darkest Angel, is a part of her Lords of the Underworld series and I'll admit was the big attraction to this book for me. The Darkest Angel was by far the strongest story in the book, so that's a good thing.

The Darkest Angel is the story of Lysander, an angel, and Bianka, a Harpy, who we met in the last book. The story introduces us to Olivia and sheds some more light on the angel/demon side plot that started to pick up speed in the last book and looks like it will be taking center stage in the near future. If you haven't read any of the other Lords of the Underworld books then this is not the place to start reading since it's definitely assumed that you're familiar with the characters and their adventures from previous stories. That's not a bad thing, though, and except for a few occasional lapses into the realm of ridiculous it was all in fun and I enjoyed this story quite a bit. According to the page at the end, the schedule for release for the next few Lords books is as follows:
Into the Dark- May 2010
The Darkest Passion- June 2010
The Darkest Lie- July 2010
That's definitely good news, and will have to hold me over, because the other two stories in the book do not inspire happy feelings in my brain.
Grade for The Darkest Angel: A-

Story number two was Love Me to Death by Maggie Shayne and was my first experience with Maggie Shayne's stories. While the writing was good and the setting for the story was well-developed for the short amount of space there was, I didn't find myself really caring about what happened in the story at all. It may be because ghost stories have never really rung my bell, but the whole idea of a group of dudes who were friends in high school, did time for supposedly killing a girl, and ended up being best friends in a community that pretty much welcomed them back with open arms after the whole debacle was finished just gave me the heebie-jeebies. There are some twists and turns that make the story slightly more palatable, but only slightly. I doubt I will be reading more from this author in the future.
Grade for Love Me to Death: C-

Story number three was Lady of the Nile by Susan Krinard and it was here that the book really went for broke in the WTF olympics. The book is set in London in 1890 and features a duchess who believes she's the reincarnation of an ancient Egyptian princess. Or is it a goddess? I needed a flow chart to keep track of what was going on this story so I can honestly say I have no idea. There's a scholarly dude who decides that he's going to "help" her since obviously everyone else thinks she's just nuttier than the proverbial fruitcake. Things get even more convoluted when it becomes apparent that (spoilers ahead if for some reason you care) they are all reincarnations of ancient Egyptians of varying levels of power and prestige. Some of them are reincarnations of bad dudes though, which means there are adventures before the story is finally over. Honestly, at this point I was struggling to finish the story. I found myself wonder if the characters had collectively hit their heads or if there was a gas leak or something. Squick.
Grade for Lady of the Nile: D

The nice thing about these story anthologies is that you can test-drive different authors and characters without investing in a full length novel or in a series. If you're a fan of the Lords of the Underworld series, get this book from the library and read Gena Showalter's story; leave the other two well enough alone.

Overall Grade for the book: C-


Amy J - Book Addict said...

I got this from Net Galley too and I got it for the Gena Showalter part! Great review! Thanks for the heads up on the other stories!

Mandi said...

The only Gena Showalter story I have read was in the Deep Kiss of Winter Anthology. I really want to try out her Alien Huntress series and LOTU.

Nice review:)

Emily said...

@Amy J I did really enjoy that story so the anthology wasn't a total loss- just most of a loss. I hope you enjoy the LOTU story though!

@Mandi- I really enjoy the LOTU series, Alien Huntress is good too but it's a little more serious than the LOTU series. Enjoy!

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