Sunday, May 6, 2007

Touch of Evil

Things you need to know:
First, vampires are not undead but are victims of parasitic lifeforms that call themselves, collectively, the Thrall. Once infected by a Thrall Queen, one of the eggs will hatch, travel through the bloodstream of its Host, set up camp at the base of the brain and take control. The Thrall are telepathic, with a hive mentality.
Second, werewolves are also victims of a disorder, live in matriarchal packs and coexist with everyone else.
Third, zombies are the result of abusing a certain drug.
Finally, if someone is bright, athletic, a skilled fighter, very determined and at least somewhat psychic, they are Not Prey, meaning the Thrall might challenge them to a duel, but strict rules will be followed.
In Touch of Evil, Katie is an international courier, and she is Not Prey. Monica, a Thrall Queen who has worn out her Host body (that happens, you know), wants Katie as her successor, but cannot go after her, because Katie is Not Prey. Instead, Monica cooks up an elaborate plot involving Katie's ex-boyfriend's niece, Dusty, to coerce Katie into surrendering her Not Prey status and becoming vulnerable to infestation. It just so happens Dusty has been tagged by the werewolves as heir to the Acca, or pack-leader. Oooh, that makes things messy. As Katie sets off to find and rescue Dusty, she suddenly has an ally in Tom, a fireman who happens to be a werewolf (as well as a calendar model).
The story certainly has an interesting array of characters. Katie is not a vampire but could end up as one, Monica is a vampire queen, Katie's ex-boyfriend is a vampire, Tom is a werewolf and Katie's younger brother, Bryan, is a zombie, while her older brother, Joe, is a hot-tempered doctor. There is also a lot of action, in the form of fights, confrontations, chase sequences and bedroom scenes. The plot has many twists and turns, getting increasingly complex as the story progresses and the cast grows.
The technical aspects of the writing are good, as the story flows by quickly, there are no slow spots and word usage is appropriate to the complexity of the story.
However, I had trouble finding a character here I liked or even found realistic. I know many of the characters are not regular people, but that's not what I mean by realistic. Most characters come off as extreme examples of their various types, instead of three-dimensional people who happen to have supernatural aspects.
As the plot develops, its complexity initially seems a plus. It eventually bogs itself down, though, in details and characters who just happen to be able to do the one thing that suddenly becomes essential to do.
The book also seems unbalanced. It is part supernatural thriller and part romance, but the romance was overly emphasized and too steamy, to the point it interferes with the supernatural thriller aspects of the story. I am not a big fan of romance stories, but I do like supernatural thrillers. I have seen them mixed well, in other books, like some of George Chesbro's Mongo the Magnificent novels, Alex Archer's Rogue Angel stories and Jennifer Roberson's Tiger & Del books. In those books, the romance is there and adds to the tale without interfering with the main story.
If you're looking for a steamy romance novel with lots of action and supernatural aspects, Touch of Evil might be your cup of tea. But if you want a supernatural thriller with romantic aspects, this book might disappoint you. It disappointed me, although not terribly.

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