Format read: ebook provided by publisher
Series: Book #1 (as-yet untitled series)
Genre: urban fantasy
Release Date: 16 January 2012
Publisher: Carina Press
Length: novella (32,000 words)
Formats available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author’s Website, Amazon, Publisher’s Website, Barnes & Noble
The vampire population may have created an economic boom in Alaska, but their altered energy field fries most technology. They rely on hard-living—and short-lived—couriers to get business done…couriers like Sydney Kildare.
Sydney has survived to the ripe old age of twenty-six by being careful. She’s careful when navigating her tempestuous clients, outrunning hijackers and avoiding anyone who might distract her from her plan of retiring young to a tropical, vampire-free island.
Her attitude—and immunity to vampires’ allure—have made her the target of a faction of vampires trying to reclaim their territory. Her only ally is Malcolm Kelly, a secretive charmer with the uncanny habit of showing up whenever she’s in trouble. Caught in the middle of a vampire turf war, Sydney has to count on Malcolm to help her survive, or the only place she’ll retire is her grave…
I must say, this story has a fantastic premise. In Don’t Bite the Messenger, Vampires are physically averse to most modern technological conveniences, and must thus rely on human “runners” to transport messages, money, and whatever else. It makes room for much more nuance in the power structure amongst vampires and toward humans—the dynamic is not just that of hunter and prey. There are also a number of smaller details about the vamps in this tale that, while only hinted at thus far, will manifest into very unique and fascinating wrinkles in subsequent adventures.
I very much dig the fact that the story is set in Alaska. So many vamp tales take place in traditionally “sexy” locations—New York, New Orleans, Chicago, Las Vegas. But when one really thinks about it…it makes great sense that night-dwelling creatures would gravitate to locations where night was perpetual (which means the southernmost habitable parts of the planet for the other part of the year). A single detail like that creates so much more flexibility for the preternatural cast of this tale. And indeed, the setting was very integral to the happenings of the story, engagingly so.
Protagonist Syndey Kildare (alias Mary Pike) is a fiesty one! Being that I like strong heroines, I immediately gravitated to her quick-witted, independent, survivalist nature. It was fun to watch her “in the field,” a chameleon that does what she must to survive any given situation.
The manner in which information is revealed in this tale is a bit of a double-edged sword for me. There’s an sense of intrigue and mystery in not being given all the expository details about Sydney from the get-go. The reader gets to gradually peel back layers of her persona this way. And yet, when it comes to the world-building and main plot, the first portion (20 percent or so) feels a bit disorienting in parts; while reading I felt like I was missing some important, clarifying pieces of information.
The story was on the brief side, which is not in itself a complaint…but it helped me to think of this story as a primer or serialized segment of many to come. Because of the relative brevity of the story, some of the emotional journey of the protagonist is necessarily abbreviated. From the romance to the more general relationship development, there were either jumps in dynamic or open ends, both of which I’m guessing will be filled in throughout subsequent installments.
Going over what I’ve covered above, I see that I make a lot of “looking forward” observations. This book is fun, fast, and furious (forgive the nerdy alliteration, but it’s most accurate, trust me! ^_^)…but ultimately, what’s so exciting about Don’t Bite the Messenger is the great setup to what will most certainly be a series to look out for. I have the feeling that followup tales will continue to use fresh angles for covering the complexity of vampires. I certainly plan to be in line to check them out. ^_^ Definitely a recommended read.
I give Don’t Bite the Messenger 3.5 stars