When I am asked to review yet another vampire novel, I always have one question to pose. What is so different about this one? Why should the reader pick this book out from all the potboilers in which this genre abounds? In the case of Lily, I was pleased to find a positive answer; the main character is already a vampire. This puts a whole different slant on the conflict, and allows the author to deal with more realistic themes and more believable personalities.
This is a story about loneliness. The essence of Lily’s problem is her inability to connect with others. It was part of her human personality before Ian turned her, and becoming an outcast has only increased her need. Her lingering, ambiguous feelings for Ian, who abandoned her cruelly 90 years ago, add complexity to the conflict. She longs for human contact, but humans are now her prey. Thus she is fair game to fall passionately in love with the first caring, thoughtful man who comes her way. The problem, of course, is that Christian is a human. Her inner conflict through the best part of the novel is whether she should turn him, dooming him to her demi-life, or save him by leaving him forever.
The villain is not the usual vampire chick magnet, luring her with his handsome, bad-boy charm. That was all finished long ago. The present-day Ian is wholly evil: manipulating, kidnapping, and killing for his own selfish ends. The external conflict of the novel is driven by his attempt to coerce her back into his coven by threats against her newfound friends and lover.
One strength of the writing in this novel is the author’s imaginative use of imagery. While most novels in this genre are restricted to the black-and-white-and-red-all-over hues of the vampire milieu, Ms DeWalt has discovered a compensating advantage: the vampire’s intense sense of smell. I doubt if you have read many novels where the main strength of a man’s attraction for a girl is his aroma. The fact that the smell is part lover, part prey, makes the situation all the more delicious. The descriptions of Lily’s scent palate are rich and compelling, and go a long way towards making us believe in the strength of her passion.
The main weakness of this story is a hundred pages of exposition that should be fifty. The author wisely chose to start the narrative long after the original conflict began, but the story would be even tighter had she moved much more quickly into the events after Lily meets her love. Once Christian appears the story starts to flow, interest level rises, and the reader really starts to enjoy it.
Once again, I find myself taking to task publishers who encourage writers to put their work before the world when their writing ability is not quite up to the task, without providing these authors with the editorial help they need. Ms DeWalt has an imaginative and creative voice. Once she learns to clean up the wordy and awkward bits and develops a more mature writing style, she could be a force to be reckoned with in her genre.
From the cloudy forests of the Pacific Northwest to the equally green and rainy fields of Ireland, this story develops from a downtempo romance into a fast-paced action thriller. If you like more-beautiful-than-life people, overwhelming passion, and a truly sympathetic main character, this book is for you. Sit back and enjoy the slow development of the first chapters, knowing that there is action to come.