- First published in 2013 by Skyscape
- Format: Audiobook
- Narrator: Kate Rudd
- Listening Speed: 1.4x
- Reading Time: 7 atmospheric days
- Eventually got around to this one! It’s been sitting in my Audible library for over a year and now I’ve finally found a prompt for it. Namely, the ‘spooky read’ prompt of the Booklist Queen Reading Challenge. This is set in New Orleans just after the story of the century has decimated the city but Adele Le Moyne would still pick living there over her mother’s Parisian and loveless home anytime. Adele wants to stay and help rebuild the city she loves but she soon becomes distracted by the fact that she is developing strange magic powers and that bodies are turning up that aren’t connected with the storm. In fact, it looks like there is a murderer on the loose and they may be connected with Adele’s ancestors. The city may have been left for dead by the rest of the country but Adele will do anything to save it.
- Vivid world building is the thing that stands out the most in this story. It’s not only a well-realised and unique setting but it gives the characters a very ready excuse why they can’t just ‘go to the police’ and why the police don’t notice something strange about all the bodies that are turning up. The city of New Orleans almost becomes a character in its own right with lavish descriptions and very colourful characters. Even when in ruins, it still felt defiantly alive. The scenes with Adele exploring the city and with the characters still coming together to celebrate life despite losing so much were the best parts by far.
- Opts for a rather traditional take on vampires without much variation from the standard specs. These vampires don’t burn in the sun and aren’t put off by crosses or garlic but, at this point, that’s cliché. It’s a shame that the book took such a basic take on vampires when the setting is so unique and well realised. The magic was the more interesting supernatural element. The depiction of voodoo was well-researched and avoided cliché. The rest of the magic types were decently depicted but I hope the various hereditary abilities will be better developed in later novels. They felt a little underdeveloped and sluggishly realised in this book.
- Characters were a bit hit and miss. I wish Adele’s anxiety had been better portrayed. As it was, it got in the way more than it endeared the readers to Adele. I found myself liking Adeline a lot more and I could have read a whole book of just her diary entries. I found Adele’s relationship with her parents interesting and I defy anyone not to like Rene. Isaac and Desiree were alright but I felt more could have been done to develop them.
- A pity that the love story between human and vampire is rather pedestrian, as was the hints (thought it never really got much focus, thankfully) of a love triangle. It could have been cut down or cut out completely without affecting the story much.
- The pacing let the book down somewhat. It could have done with being cut down a good bit with the scenes in the school being at the top of the editing list. None of those scenes felt indispensable and only one school-related scene felt like it was completely necessary to the story.
- It didn’t have the best audiobook narrator. The book does acknowledge that Adele doesn’t have a classic Southern accent which explains why the narrator doesn’t have one but it’s a shame that the characters who did have an accent didn’t have much of one. The narrator tried to make some of the characters sound unique but, sadly, didn’t always succeed.
- Velocity of the story does waver but the twists do make the slow moments worth it. The diary entries have the greater number of twists but the modern day moments were pretty good too. Especially, near the end. I certainly didn’t see one around Adele’s immediate family coming.
- Ended with unanswered questions but still a solid conclusion. I felt the climax wasn’t as good as it could have been but, on balance, I liked it. That pretty much sums up my feelings about the book. Some parts weren’t as good as they could have been but there were enough good bits to keep me going and I think I will continue the series. If you love a well-painted setting and don’t mind rather average supernatural enemies, I would recommend checking this out.
Goodreads Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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