Tuesday, February 09, 2010
Shades of Gray
Amaranthine: Shades of Gray
by Joleene Naylor
(CreateSpace / 1-449-51181-3 / 978-1-449-51181-4 / September 2009 / 246 pages / $11.00 / Kindle $1.99)
Reviewed by Dianne Salerni for PODBRAM
Katalina is having trouble getting over the sudden, violent, unexplained death of her lover Patrick. Perhaps that explains why she is willing to take the risk of responding to a mysterious phone call from a man who says he knows who killed Patrick. She agrees to meet him after sundown at an abandoned shack outside town. Certainly, she would have been better off if she had listened to her friend Sarah and stayed away, because Katalina’s meeting launches her into the middle of a violent power struggle between vampire covens. Her only chance at survival is the man who summoned her, Jorick, who takes on the role of her protector when things are at their darkest.
Shades of Gray is a paranormal romance with intermittent scenes of graphic violence. One thing that puzzled me about the book was the title itself. It is not a memorable title (there are many listed on Amazon with the same title), and it suggests a moral ambiguity that just isn’t there. The vampires in this book are vicious and amoral, with one exception, and that exception doesn’t seem “gray” to me. He is clearly meant to be the good guy. However, the strongest reservation I had about this book was the lack of a compelling plot. The coven wars, which are revealed to the reader primarily through third-hand accounts, seemed to be only a vehicle to string together scenes of Katalina and Jorick hiding out in motel rooms and falling in love between scenes of violence. I found Jorick to be an interesting character, but what he saw in the dim-witted and easily manipulated Katalina was as much a mystery to me as it was to all of his vampire enemies.
One of the most singular things about the book was the early introduction of a vampire family: a husband and wife, a small child, and a vampire infant—but these characters were not in the book long enough to make a difference, and I felt that this was a missed opportunity.
I enjoyed Ms. Naylor’s style of prose, which is vibrant and full of precise imagery. The book itself is well edited, with only minor and rare snafus such as inverted quotations or typos. There is humor, eroticism, lush vocabulary, and great potential here, but what I was craving was a plot that made logical sense and provided original ideas that had not already been used by Anne Rice or Stephanie Meyer.
Editor's Note: This book is advertised on the author's website as the first book in the Amaranthine Series, but this name is not listed at Amazon or anywhere else except on the cover (before the title).
See also: Joleene Naylor's Website
Joleene' Authors Den Page