Frost, Jeaniene. Destined for an early grave. New York: Avon, 2009. 355pp.
Anne Rice, Joss Whedon and the makers of the Underworld series of films certainly have a lot to answer for – turning the vampire genre from a true subset of the horror genre into a rather lame subset of the romance genre. Not that I have any problem with romantic vampires – as long as they're part of a larger field of vampire fiction that also includes evil, predatory vampires. My problem is that the dark supernatural romance seems to be edging out all the rest.
This brings us to Jeaniene Frost's Destined for an Early Grave. Not normally the kind of book I would read, a review copy just happened to land on my desk just as we were leaving for the cottage for a couple of weeks of R&R. So, I took it along. I also read it. Mind you, there were several times in the first 50 pages that I was sorely tempted to hurl it across the room. The romance stereotype characters drove me crazy. The sexy, feisty and tough yet strangely goofy and insecure female lead; the tall, dark, brooding and yet strangely sensitive male lead. The tall, dark, brooding and yet strangely deranged villain. Yeah, they're all there: Buffy, Angel and Spike. The plot and setting also hit all the highlights in the feudal gothic hit parade. Hereditary ruling classes, byzantine rules and regulations that you must just die for, a heroine with secret powers that happens to be the key to everyone's plans.
In the end, though, I did end up finishing the book – as stereotypical as the characters were, the plot had enough twists to keep me turning the pages even if the ending was dead predictable. Of course, it didn't hurt that initially I wasn't quite sure I'd brought enough books at the cottage so I more or less felt I had to read it. In different circumstances I might not have made it much past page 10 much less 50 or 350.
Sort of recommended. Barely.
And speaking of evil vampires, I have enjoyed David Wellington's work and I do look forward to reading the new Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan book, The Strain. It is out there, I just wish the proportions were a bit different.