Book Review: Vampire Sunrise and Brimstone Kiss by Carole Nelson Douglas

Ace Books,
Brimstone Kiss 348 pgs.
Vampire Sunrise 362 pgs.

Brimstone Kiss (Delilah Street, Paranormal Investigator) (Delilah Street; Paranormal Investigator)Vampire Sunrise: Delilah Street: Paranormal Investigator (Delilah Street; Paranormal Investigator)I really hate reading from the second book of a series onward, but in this case, I’ve made an exception. Mostly because it was a surprise to see Douglas writing urban fantasy romance. (Mostly because the “bad ass babe” corner of the urban fantasy genre has a lot of very clichéd romantic tropes, and Douglas never really used those tropes.)

I have always liked Douglas’ fantasy novels. Douglas is a writer who while reasonably prolific, doesn’t tend to stay in print, as far as fantasy is concerned, which is a shame. Her epic-quest fantasies were some of my favorite while growing up. (I’m also a fan of her Irene Adler/ Sherlock Holmes pastiche series, which I think is pitch-perfect as far as historical “voice” is concerned.) In the Delilah Street: Paranormal Investigator series, Douglas has done a mash-up of her two primary genres of Mystery and Fantasy and has come up with a fairly solid, urban fantasy “bad ass babe” romance.

Our Heroine is a former news anchor turned investigative reporter in a world changed and transformed from the ordinary by the Millennium Revelation, an event where the creatures of the night came out and announced their presence to the world. She’s currently based in Vegas, and most of her adventures so far involve trying to track down the story behind a mysterious (deceased) person who is her exact double, and might actually be her sister. (And may or may not be dead.)

True to the “bad ass babe” sub genre of urban fantasy, we have the Romantic Interest in the form of a CSI type whose specialty is dowsing for corpses, and the Rival in the form of a rock musician/entrepreneur who is either a demon or a sorcerer (or maybe both). Our Heroine has some of the (expected) unexpected abilities that she has to learn how to use during the course of the series, and which pop up at strange and occasionally intimate moments. While I liked the character a great deal, I had some problems with the character’s “voice”–she doesn’t really “sound” like someone who had grown up in during the time she was supposed to have. (And it’s hard to tell whether this is intentional or not.)

Brimstone Kiss involves among other things, the discovery of Egyptian Vampires luring tourists into their casino, the continuing adventures with a ghost looking for revenge against her werewolf father, the machinations of a possibly demonic rock star, and various weirdness involving characters from old movies being impersonated by zombies. Vampire Sunrise continues the theme, solving some of the mysteries while creating others. Delilah doesn’t get very close to discovering the secrets of her past, though we get some interesting hints.

I felt there were some interesting parallels and “echoes” of Douglas’ previous works during the course of the story. Douglas recycles a lot of the mirror imagery from her Sword and Circlet series into these books, and I couldn’t help but feel that the characters were alternate universe versions of Irissa, Kendric and Geronfrey. (Which is not a cut toward the individuality of the characters or the creativity of the writer–I’m just seeing an echo of sorts between both sets of characters.)

I found both books to be very entertaining though I have a few moments of dissonance concerning Delilah, who doesn’t precisely act or speak like a person with her background would speak or act–and I’m not sure how much if her demeanor is deliberate or not. (I’m not quite sure how to define what I found “off” about Delilah’s personality, she seems more “tough spunky Girl Friday” and it doesn’t quite fit the situations she finds herself in. She sounds like she should be a character in a “crime caper” type film than anything else.) Possibly reading the first book will clear up some of the “dissonance” or at least give a better explanation for it; we will have to see.

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Filed under book, Carole Nelson Douglas, fantasy, Review: Book, romance, urban, vampires

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