Reviewed: August 3, 2011
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Night, Book 1
Rating: 3 Stars
Length: 266 Pages
Formats: Paperback, Kindle, Nook
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Entangled Publishing, LLC via NetGalley. The rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.
Warning: This book is a dark paranormal romance, and along with featuring a main character who kills to feed, it also contains two scenes of rape and murder with varying degrees of graphic detail. Sensitive readers may find all or a portion of these scenes disturbing.
His love for a woman caused Father Gregorio Salvador to break his covenant to God and seek a gentler embrace. His noble intentions and a yearning for family motivated him to confess his plans to leave the brotherhood and take his lover Tala as his wife. And he was viciously betrayed for it.
Tala, pregnant with his child, was hunted down like a dog, run to ground, then brutally raped and murdered. The rage and grief at her loss broke his will and stole his spirit, stripping him of the last vestiges of a tattered faith and setting him on a path to become an immortal Night Walker. And once he had become the night, the reckoning for those who betrayed him and slayed Tala was...epic. The year was 1775.
Over two hundred blood-filled nights later, the wait for the rebirth of Tala's soul wears heavy on the man who now calls himself Callisto Terana. On the night he lays a flower on the grave of his beloved, he crosses paths with a young woman named Kate Bradley. One glance into familiar eyes and he knows his wait is over. Tala's soul lives.
But so does the brotherhood who has watched him since the night he rained vengeance down on his betrayers. They long ago gave up the hope of killing him, but they will stop at nothing to prevent him from creating another of his kind. Nothing. And if history repeats itself, and Kate is slain as Tala had been...so be it.
Night Walker kicks off a dark new paranormal romance series that infuses fresh blood into a glutted but staid vampire market. I commend Kessler for the rich history and world building she's created, and thought the flashbacks to the rise of Gregario/Callisto as Night Walker were some of the strongest in the book. It's rare and lovely to come across a book that even attempts to slowly evolve a relationship between the male and female leads while taking time to truly flesh out the foundations for both the series and the characters, providing genuine backstory of how they became the people they are upon their meeting. In that regard, this book was a winner.
Unfortunately, my appreciation for the book got tripped up in several other places.
I don't recall ever reading a book that dealt so intently with the subject of a reincarnated soul, and that turned out to be a problem. Until I read this book, I had no idea that I truly don't like that particular theme. There was such huge significance attributed to Tala's soul throughout the book that the relationship between Callisto and Kate didn't work for me. Despite much lip service to the contrary, I was never convinced that Callisto was in love with Kate. At least not for the woman she is now. Too much time was spent belaboring the point that Callisto couldn't lose her again, as if Kate and Tala were the same person, and it negated almost all of Kate's individuality, putting the kibosh on any hope for a successful romance arc for me.
Actually, there were many, many story elements that were heavily belabored in the book. If something was mentioned once, it was mentioned five times. After a while I got to feeling like I was being beaten over the head with the book, not reading it.
There were other things that didn't work for me, either, such as the insubstantial secondary characters. Kate's friends were a nice attempt to help establish her as her own person, but they weren't developed or featured enough to truly do so, and they ended up feeling flat and two dimensional...and utterly expendable. I also had a big problem with some of Callisto's actions, which bordered on stupid at times, reckless at others. For a supposed powerful Night Walker, he did rather a lot of useless chest-thumping with no result, and his inaction against a serious threat was mind boggling.
I mean...seriously...Callisto finds out Jose is the monk who intends to kill Kate, knows he's one sick puppy after Jose left him Kate's semen-covered panties as a warning for what he intends to do to her...but during a confrontation with him, Callisto doesn't kill him because he doesn't want to hurt the feelings of his foundation director, who Jose is using so he can get access to Kate and his home. Seriously?? Callisto has the power to manipulate minds and the knowledge that Betty is with the man who intends to rape and murder the woman he's loved for over two centuries, yet he can't come up with some way to kill Jose and cover it up or mind control Betty to forgetting it? Uh...yeah...that was stupid. And because it was so stupid, it became a glaringly obvious plot contrivance to set up a sequence of events later in the book.
Still, there were positives. Despite the issues I had with the reincarnation theme and weaknesses in character and plot development, there's a ton of potential in this dark series. Kessler created a world that is plausible and rich with history, and gave it a sense of impending conflict that appealed. In particular, a final scene at the end provided a nice teaser for future books in the series. I can only hope that they won't rely on the reincarnation theme, because I don't think I can read another of those, and I am interested to see where Kessler plans to take this series next.
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