As I read more paranormal romance/fantasy, I find that I like it when the authors make an effort to flesh out their supernatural communities in a unique way. While there are certainly some elements that most stories have in common—the concept of a vampire “Long Game”, for example—authors will occasionally hit on something a little different. Darkness Devours goes a bit deeper into vampire society while the characters investigate a mystery.
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“Half-werewolf, half-AedhRisa Jones can enter the realm between life and death, and she can see the Reapers who collect the souls of the dead. Now, she is using her gifts—and the investigative know-how of a man who broke her heart—to find a cabal searching for the power to control time, reality, and fate. And this is besides her work for the Vampire Council, half of whom want her dead.
But for now the Council needs her alive. Someone is killing blood-whore addicted vampires, and Risa must find the guilty party. If she succeeds, she may finally convince the council to lift the execution order on her life. But before she succeeds, she must first survive?”
Arthur began the concept of supernatural-oriented clubs back in her Riley Jenson series with the werewolf clubs, and she extends that concept in this novel with the vampire clubs. While she’s not the only author to have human characters be addicted to vampire bites, most authors keep the satiation of that addiction as something covert. Addicts skulk in the shadows hoping to hook up with a vampire. Here, the syndrome is well known, and having “safe” places for folks to get their fix keeps fatalities to a minimum… or at least, that’s the theory. Like any organization catering to an addiction, there are always places to find the more extreme thrills.
All of this is woven into the main plot of Risa attempting to find the keys to the gates between life and death. With one gate forced open, evil things are slipping through into our world. This situation has a direct effect on the characters and how they deal with the novel’s events. It’s nice to get some background on what makes this world tick while they’re trying to keep it ticking.
On the other hand, setting up the plot this way allows the author to digress away from the main storyline. Risa is supposed to be finding the keys, and her involvement in the various supernatural organizations draws her away from what she’s supposed to be doing.
To be fair, that isn’t all that pulls readers away from the primary plot. The romantic tension between Risa and Azriel frequently colors everything that’s going on. I’ve noticed that Arthur has the tendency to have her characters have the exact same conversation over and over again, with no resolution, and the sexual tension between them is one of those circumstances that just keeps recurring. I was much more interested in Risa’s former lover, a werewolf who took advantage of his closeness to Risa to write a scathing article about her mother, a noted psychic. Their interaction had just as much tension, but it didn’t descend into smoldering flirtation.
On the whole, I enjoyed this novel, with its glimpses into the seedy underbelly of the vampire world and the murder mystery that Risa and her friends must solve before events get too out of hand. Darkness Devours could have done with a bit less romance and a bit more plot, but it gets the job done fairly well.