Demon Moon, by Meljean Brook

>> Friday, June 01, 2007

TITLE: Demon Moon (excerpt: pdf of the first 4 chapters)
AUTHOR: Meljean Brook

COPYRIGHT: 2007 (the book comes out on June 5th... next Tuesday)
PAGES: 480
PUBLISHER: Berkley Sensation

SETTING: Contemporary San Francisco
TYPE: Fantasy Romance
SERIES: Part of the Guardians series (starts with Falling For Anthony, in Hot Spell anthology, then Demon Angel and Paradise, in Wild Thing anthology, which I've somehow missed).

REASON FOR READING: Loved, loved, loved Demon Angel, and Colin's always intrigued me.

Return to the sensual netherworld of Demon Angel for a heartbreaking romance of eternal love threatened by the darkness of a Demon Moon…

No one would call vampire Colin Ames-Beaumont kind, but they would call him unnaturally beautiful. For two centuries his tainted blood has kept him isolated from other vampires, sustained only by his beauty and vanity—bitter comforts, since a curse has erased his mirror reflection, replacing it with a terrifying glimpse of Chaos.

Savi Murray's insatiable curiosity had gotten her into trouble before, but she'd always escaped unscathed. Then came Colin. In the midst of Heaven, he gave her a taste of ecstasy—and of Chaos. Deadly creatures from that realm herald the return of an imprisoned nosferatu horde, and Colin and Savi’s bond is their only protection—and their only passion…
THE PLOT: If you've read the previous books in the series, I've no doubt you'll remember the protagonists of DM, as they're definitely not the forgettable type. Colin Ames-Beaumont was introduced in Falling for Anthony, where we saw the aftermath of a nosferatu transforming him into a vampire. He also had plenty of lovely scene-stealing appearances in DA. Savitri Murray is Hugh's surrogate sister from DA, the young, geeky, half-Indian woman whose rescue precipitated his decision to Fall.

Already in DA there was a palpable chemistry between them, and as DM starts, we find out that something huge happened between them when they took refuge at Caelum, as Hugh and Lilith battled the nosferatu. There are plenty of exciting things happening around them during this book, including some creatures finding their way out of Chaos, raising the possibility that the nosferatu locked up there will manage it as well, and a demon impersonating Colin and trying to take control of the San Francisco vampire community, but DM is actually surprisingly character-driven.

The real meat is Colin and Savi falling all the way in love and finding a way to be together, which isn't at all easy, given that Colin is under a curse which prevents the simple solution of turning Savi into a vampire as well.

MY THOUGHTS: When I've loved an author's book and pick up the follow-up, this is what I hope happens. With Demon Moon, I got a story and characters very different from those in Demon Angel, but I still got what I'd adored in the first book.

This is what I mean: Savi couldn't have been more different from Lilith and Colin couldn't have been more different from Hugh, but they were just as fascinating, just as well-drawn. Like with Lilith and Hugh, I could try to describe their characters, but if I were to note every single little thing that made them real and gave their characterization such depth, I'd have to write a review as long as the book. Not one-note characters, these; they were complex people.

And they were people I loved reading about. I loved Colin's humour and his vanity, the way he could be heartbreaking and exasperating at the same time. And I loved Savi's intelligence and determination to find a way, the way she was a combination of the modern and the technological cutting edge with the more traditional, not completely rejecting her Indian grandmother's ideas out of hand.

The same thing I said about the character goes for the romance between them. Savi and Colin's romance develops in a way that's nothing like Hugh and Lilith's, but it gave me the very same feeling of a love that's big and really worth it, worth all the sacrifices and angst. The sexual tension is unbelievably intense, and doesn't diminish one iota even after these two actually start having sex. I read every single word (sometimes even twice *g*) and would rate this book as probably the hottest and most sensual I've read this year.

The complicated, well-rounded universe introduced in the previous books continues here, and it's just as vivid and subtle and complex. But we don't simply retread the same territory: given that our hero is a vampire, we see loads more about the vampire comunity and how vampirism works, and so on. We get to about the same depth as we got into demons and guardians in the first book, and I was fascinated by every detail.

Also as in DA (are you getting bored of me saying that, yet?), I loved that we didn't get a conflict with an easy solution, but one I had no idea whatsoever how Brook was going to be able to solve. And it's a very intriguing one, too. You see, Colin must drink blood regularly, and for vampires, blood-drinking comes hand-in-hand with sex, often whether they like the person they're drinking from or not. But he can't drink exclusively from Savi, who's human, or she'll be weakened, and understandably, Savi just couldn't live with the knowledge that he's with other women every night. But neither can Colin simply turn Savi into a vampire, because he's under a curse, one that we caught a glimpse of in DA but which is made clear only here. His blood is poison to other vampires, so if Savi were turned, she'd have to drink from other men, simply reversing the problem in the first place. It seems impossible that we could get to a HEA, but we do get there, and in a way that makes total sense, even if I didn't see it coming.

All the above was the good news, and now we get to... nope, not the bad news, as you might be guessing, but to the even better news *g*. Yes, because of its complexity, this is not a book to be skimmed. You have to pay attention, because Brook trusts her readers to figure things out and doesn't spell things out ten times. That's not a problem, because the pay-off is really worth the effort. In DA, however, there were certain sections where I wasn't sure what was happening, even if I was paying attention and reading carefully. Well, the excellent news is that there weren't any such problems here. DM is much better in terms of clarity.

MY GRADE: An A. It really blew me away.

NOTES: After you've read this, go read the deleted emails Meljean's put up in her site. Truly hilarious!


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