by Richelle Mead, fantasy (2007)
Kensington, $15.00, ISBN 978-0-7582-1641-6
Richelle Mead's Succubus Blues is another book that kicks off another urban fantasy series. I can see some people throwing up their hands in the air already. I understand. There are so many series out there, who has the time and money to follow them all, right? For me, however, this is one series I'm firmly committed to following after having read this book.
To be honest, the storyline in Succubus Blues isn't the most unusual or original, but the way Ms Mead puts everything together is fantastic. And towards the end, this book sucker-punches me right in the gut. The heroine Georgina Kincaid can be rightfully called a martyr and heaven knows I tarred and feathered enough of these heroines in the past to star in my own Stephen King horror movie, but here, Georgina demonstrates the right reason to make sacrifices - she's really protecting something precious when there is no other choice. Therefore, instead of brandishing my pitchfork and noose, I reach for my tissues.
Georgina is a succubus although her heart is no longer in her "career". Normally I'm not fond of heroines doing things and moaning at the same time that they hate doing what they do but Ms Mead provides a very valid reason for Georgina's personality in scenes of heartwrenching flashbacks. Of course, there remain the question of why her immediate superior, the imp Hugh, or the person both she and Hugh answer to, the demon Jerome, let her get away with doing so little, or why one would even pick Georgina to be a succubus in the first place. I'll just be nice and assume that such questions will be answered in future books because there are plenty to adore in this story.
Georgina's personal life is, if she has her way, a barren desert. You see, she feeds off her lovers' life force and if she has her way, she will not date, much less sleep with, nice guys if she has her way. Therefore, her co-worker Doug Sato is off-limits but the sleazy married Warren is okay when she needs her quota of scummy-male life force. However, the presence of two men complicate her life significantly - the author of her favorite romantic mystery series Seth Mortenson and the mysterious Roman "No, I'm not Ranger, I swear!" Smith. This doesn't compare however to the fact that someone is killing immortals low and high in the place - angels, imps, vampires, demons, none are spared - and the killer is sending creepy letters to Georgina. Jerome and the angel Carter, who for some reason seem joined at the hip, warn Georgina not to meddle but she's not really good at listening to instructions.
Before I go on, let me make this clear: Succubus Blues is not a romance novel - it has romantic elements but there is no clear single romantic relationship here and there is definitely no resolution where somebody get married at the last page. This is more of Georgina's story and she, being a succubus, isn't going to go all holier-than-thou about sex - she uses sex as a way to achieve what she wants in this book and she also sleep with more than one men. There are no clear romantic relationships in here although Seth and Roman are the ones who obviously have gotten under her skin in different ways by the last page of this book. I must say, this book is nearly as fun as going to some Pick-Your-Boyfriend shop and be spoiled for choices because there are many men here that I find most intriguing. Jerome who has a bizarre fan-crush on John Cusack to the point that he models himself in the actor's likeness has such a bad streak that I like, heh, but Carter is pretty intriguing as well as the deliberately flippant fellow who hides his serious nature well. Roman is also such a delicious bad boy. Seth is a pretty adorable nerdy hot-guy author who writes beautifully but speaks not-that-beautifully - how adorably realistic. Unfortunately, I find poor Seth the least interesting. I even find Warren more interesting than him.
Succubus Blues has a very nice set-up although I fear Ms Mead will get some angry emails and letters from Very Angry Christians. I've always been interested in theological matters like heaven and hell in various religions so this story appeals to me because Ms Mead uses angels, demons, and the whole concept of good and evil and puts them together to create an interesting tale. To be honest, I actually guess (correctly) the nature of the killer the moment Georgina suspects someone she knows of being the murderer and I also guess correctly who this killer is shortly after, so I can't say that I find the story particularly suspenseful at the end. However, I like the way Ms Mead puts together the various aspects of her canon in this story. The story has many interesting characters that actually have a role in the storyline, such as the two vampire moochers who function mostly as comedic sidekicks and Erik the mysterious mortal shopkeeper who knows more about immortals than any other humans.
Georgina is also a heroine to root for. I'm not fond of martyr heroines but Ms Mead's lead female character is no silly creature finding all kinds of flimsy excuses to play the martyr. Georgina makes real sacrifices in this story for real reasons. She displays some typical urban fantasy female lead traits such as a wise-ass mouth and some kickass abilities, but she is also pretty sharp. Towards the end of this story Georgina makes me shed a few tears for her. While the resolution isn't anything I've never read before, Ms Mead creates plenty of grey areas when it comes to determining who is right or wrong in this situation, which appeals to me because I like a story that challenges me to think. I hope the "bad guy" comes back.
Succubus Blues falters slightly with me when it comes to balancing Georgina's private life with her Nancy Drew moments because I personally find the murder thing much more interesting than Georgina's private life blues. I eventually begin to find her scenes with Seth and Roman boring and wish that Georgina will get back to poking her nose where it doesn't belong in the mystery. There are some scenes in this book that feel inexplicably glossed over, such as the scene with Georgina getting Seth to dance, which is a pivotal scene in their relationship that nonetheless feels glossed over and too short. Often I feel that this book in its early form must have been much longer than its final form with some rather gracelessly obvious editing having been done here and there to forcefully trim it to its current length.
Despite the rough edges, this is a very promising start to a series featuring my favorite Sunday School backyard rebels. I have a fantastic time with Succubus Blues and am more than ready for more.
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