Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Review - Acquainted With The Night

Acquainted With The Night
Piper Maitland
Berkley Publishing
December 2011


A crank call wakes Caroline ‘Caro’ Clifford from a restless sleep populated by nightmarish figures. But when the phone rings a second time, she’s devastated to learn that her uncle, the man who’d raised her from a small child, had been murdered at an archeological site in Bulgaria. She hastily dresses and packs so she can meet a government car coming to take her to the airport. Before she leaves, she packs a small, ancient icon in her bag. Her uncle had always instructed her to take it with her, no matter where she went.

When she arrives at the airport, a handsome man with a pony-tail asks to speak to her. But she really doesn’t have time. She desperately wants to catch her flight. Getting to Bulgaria and her deceased uncle is all she can think of. But the stranger catches her attention when he tells her his name, Jude Barrett, and that he’d planned on having tea with her and her uncle. She isn’t sure what to make of that but the man insists that he still wants to talk to her. In fact, he follows her to Bulgaria.

Once there, Jude has some crazy ideas about vampires, that they’re real and constitute a threat to humanity and Caro is at first skeptical. But then she recalls some of the strange things that have happened to her in the past few days…including being attacked by a man wearing thick layers of sunscreen. The man had tried to steal her bag but Caro managed to keep it from him. When the same man and another man wearing sunscreen show up at her Bulgarian hotel, she begins to fear Jude is right.  

Caro receives some of her uncle’s belongings from the embassy, among them her uncle’s passport. Inside, odd anagrams provide clues which lead her and Jude on an adventure to a cliff-top monastery. There Caro learns about the icon she carries with her. The icon is connected to an ancient text on immortality and a prophecy that might be somehow connected to her. Caro learns about Jude’s run in with vampires, how they destroyed his life as a research scientist and almost took his life in the bargain. Jude understandably hates vampires. He wants to destroy them all.

But vampires aren’t the only ones threatening Caro and Jude. The vampires are actually following the orders of a man who wants Caro and the icon. He needs them both in a search for his own immortality.

Ms Maitland has combined her vampires with science and history and I found that truly fascinating. I also found the plot with all its intricate twists and turns equally fascinating. Had the world and characters been less well developed, this might have resulted in confusion but, in reality, it was a lengthy but easy to follow read with a good deal of suspense.

The relationship between Caro and Jude at first seemed to be incredibly rushed. Not that I am really complaining though, as they sure made for an incredibly steamy couple. That said, I thought the relationship between Caro and Jude was rushed. Even though their love scenes were hot, the couple never struck me as one that would stay together. It was no surprise then that, when a shocking reveal is made, Jude retreats from a relationship with Caro. I wanted to slap him, then turn around and slap her for practically begging for his attention.  

For the most part, Acquainted With the Night read very quickly with only a few sagging spots. However, I was disappointed at the ending. While it seemed inevitable, it also seemed somewhat clichéd. I enjoyed the book but when I can tell almost exactly how the book will end 50 pages before I get there, that’s a problem. It might be that I've read too many vampire/love stories and perhaps I'm jaded. Other readers may not have this problem. Also the ending was very open-ended indicating that there would be a sequel and from the feel of it, more than one. Nothing wrong with that. I usually enjoy sequels.

Readers of urban fantasy will enjoy Acquainted With The Night. Readers of vampire stories will love the new mythology Ms Maitland has created as much as I did. 

No comments: