Title & Author: A Shade of Vampire (Book One), Bella Forrest
Genre & Publication Date: Paranormal, December 17, 2012 (original). Reviewed is the new lengthened version released in 2015
Book Description: “On the evening of Sofia Claremont’s seventeenth birthday, she is sucked into a nightmare from which she cannot wake. A quiet evening walk along a beach brings her face to face with a dangerous pale creature that craves much more than her blood.
She is kidnapped to The Shade, an island where the sun is eternally forbidden to shine. An island uncharted by any map and ruled by the most powerful vampire coven on the planet. She wakes here as a slave, a captive in chains.
Sofia’s life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn when she is selected out of hundreds of girls to take up residence in the tree-top harem of Derek Novak, the dark royal prince.
Despite his addiction to power and obsessive thirst for her blood, Sofia soon realizes that the safest place on the island is within his quarters, and she must do all within her power to win him over if she is to survive even one more night.
Will she succeed? Or is she destined to the same fate that all other girls have met at the hands of the Novaks?”
First Line: I always feared the nights my father got called out of town.
My Take: So I finally got around to reading book one of this Indie’s hugely successful series that has been raved about for some time. Long story short, it reminds me of Twilight a lot. There is original content but there are many points here that run along the same themes as Twilight.
Case in point, Sofia suffers from anxiety attacks, whereas Bella suffered from clumsiness, neither of which seem to impede them later on. It’s mentioned and gone. Both think themselves plain and pale, except –shocker– they’re actually beautiful. Derek, the main vampire dude, is a broody sort who hates being a vampire and wishes he could retain his humanity (like Twilight’s Edward) and he somehow falls in love with a seventeen year old girl pretty much at first sight. *weary sigh* There were other parallels but I’ll leave it at that.
On a side note, I always wonder about these sorts of romances, particularly between a teenage girl and an immortal who is way, WAY older. I have trouble relating to teenagers already and I’m not hundreds of years old (even though some days I feel like it). Special consideration should be given to forming the relationship between these two characters given the very different ways in which they view the world, interact with it, and think of the future. If there’s a romance, it should be cultivated in a more believable way than, “Damn, I’m just inexplicably drawn that girl/guy.” especially on the part of the vampire. As it is, I just couldn’t tap into the feelings they had for each other, which was troublesome given that this is a major element of the story.
Finally, a big plot hole that reared its ugly head (and was never addressed): Once Sofia became a captive in the vampire world, I wondered what happened to these anxiety attacks she suffered from most of her life. She nearly had a meltdown sitting on a crowded bench at a high school football game, but I’m to believe that living day by day under threat as a prisoner of otherworldly creatures in a place of eternal night aren’t prime circumstances for a flare up of that mental condition? At all??
The Magical: The idea of a secret sanctuary called the Shade, a place where sunlight never shines, is pretty cool. It really built a vampire world for the reader, even though the story is set in modern times.
The Mundane: When will books stop with romances between a vulnerable girl and a guy who scares the hell out of her? This just drives me crazy. Fear and intimidation does not equal masculine, just as gentle and fragile does not equal feminine. Even if he doesn’t mean to scare her, or is struggling with “inner demons”, it can’t be love if one side is under the authority of the other so totally and completely. Even if he offers her choices, she’s there against her will so he still occupies a position of power over her. Love is something that develops from trust, understanding, and mutual respect. This set-up was more like a case study in Stockholm syndrome.
Summary of Thoughts: Currently this book is $0.99 for the Kindle. It’s more novella length than novel, just as an FYI. Like the Twilight series, I didn’t hate it and I wanted to find out how it would end, but I didn’t enjoy the journey all that much. And the relationship between Derek and Sofia was one I didn’t believe in. Characters are pretty flat and the plot rather predictable. This series is no doubt meant for a younger audience and likely I’m just too old (did I just admit to that?) to enjoy it, but it does bother me to see such a popular YA series sink into the damsel trope with the heroine. Maybe she improves as the series goes on? But in book one I desperately wished Sofia would’ve been stronger at heart and had a little more spark in her, if only to give our young women a fiercer heroine to root for.
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C.S. Wilde said:
I was seeing this book everywhere, and as an indie myself, I was like WTF? How is she doing this? It’s pretty cool, but definitely not my kind of paranormal. I like fast paced, kick-ass stuff.
I wondered that as well, but like anything in this business, it’s utterly unpredictable. On the other hand, she self-published around the time eBooks were getting going and discoverability was a touch easier, so this probably helped her along. That and the market was hot for vampire books. Agreed, I like a paranormal with some kick to it!
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C.S. Wilde said:
Hmm, I’m not so sure. She only boomed around half a year ago, so she definitely missed the Twilight wave. She wasn’t up in the charts two years ago.
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I have to admit, I hadn’t followed her rise to success. Must be that mix of timing and luck that is often talked about, is my guess.
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