Give me a great bunch of characters, and I’m willing to read about them doing nearly anything. Take, for example, the following characters... The pair of unexpectedly-harmless vampires--one, the metrosexual mentor (sort of a Nathan Lane-meets-Martha Stewart type); and the other, his innocent, boy-next-door protege who’s shy around girls. Then there’s the archdemon (a former angel who fell from grace, to you and I), who oversees all of the destined-for-the-Underworld residents in his area--just as cranky, imperious, and scary as you’d think (though ruining that image just a tad by dint of his quirky decision to go around looking like John Cusack’s identical twin). The still-in-divine-favor angel--who dresses in the very best Seattle grunge-wear, circa 1990, and (in a totally-unexpected twist) also happens to be the aforementioned archdemon’s BFF. A nephilim--the archdemon’s bastard child (the result of his fall-from-grace, as it happens), impossibly hunky but a touch, shall we say, prickly, who carries a very large chip on his sublimely-broad shoulder. A well-turned-out imp--who toils as a plastic surgeon by day and a supernatural pimp by night. The bookstore, where a regular human guy/wannabe-alt-rocker and his solidly-nice, normal sister work, blissfully unaware of any of the weirdness which touches their lives. The (also-normal, though not-so-blissfully unaware) best-selling thriller author, who has made the bookstore his second home. And, last but not least, the resident succubus--more than a thousand years old, a little gloomy, and doomed to an immortality of “sucking” the life force out of unsuspecting guys... while never able to enjoy a traditional relationship with a man again. Such are the inhabitants of Richelle Mead’s Seattle-based “Succubus” series--an undeniably likable mix of oddballs, misfits, and unusual beings, all a lot more sympathetic--and in the case of the supernaturals, more human--than you might expect.
Succubus Shadows, the fifth entry in Ms. Mead’s ongoing series, finds succubus Georgina Kincaid a trifle more morose than normal: her ex-boyfriend, author Seth Mortensen, is set to marry her best friend, fellow-bookstore employee, Maddie Sato. This wouldn’t be so bad, if only Georgina didn’t still carry a torch for Seth... and he, apparently, for her. But, Georgina is determined to take the high road--particularly since she can’t expect to ever have a “real” life with Seth--despite the fact that being around the “happy couple” is driving her crazy. (Of course, it’s REALLY hard to take any sort of higher road when Maddie--who knows nothing at all about Georgina and Seth’s past together--is busily cajoling her into helping pick out Maddie’s wedding dress. And the cake. And flowers. And, you know, into being a bridesmaid.) But aside from those few little details, it’s all quite cozy and happy. Really.
As if that weren’t enough, Georgina is trying to get used to her new roommate, the nephilim Roman (whom she also briefly dated, and who may--or may not--still want to kill her). That arrangement is, it comes as no great surprise, slightly awkward. Then there’s the annoying new succubus in town--supposedly on vacation in the Emerald City--who gets on Georgina’s (and pretty much everyone else’s) very last nerve. Oh, and did I mention the mysterious siren song Georgina keeps hearing at random moments? It’s an alluring melody which is inexorably trying to draw her into questionable (read, dangerous) situations... like stepping off her own balcony a few stories up, or walking mindlessly into the ocean. It’s a particularly worrisome problem, since none of Georgina’s superiors--not Roman, not Carter-the-angel, and not even Jerome, her archdemon boss--have a clue what could be causing said phenomenon to occur. (When something happens that neither an archdemon nor an angel has a handle on? Let’s just say it’s time to get worried...)
Succubus Shadows is full, as always, of all the delightfully-funny little things that happen in Georgina’s day-to-day life, whether it’s the antics of her two cats (and how much they love Roman but hate when Jerome stops by), or young vampire Cody’s crush on the new goth salesgirl at the bookstore (including elder vampire Peter’s “help” trying to turn Cody into a be-studded goth dude), or Georgina’s sexy succubus exploits with a horny neighbor (involving a single raincloud which soaks only Georgina). It plumbs the depths of deeper emotions, as well, though, as we see the pain and internal conflicts Georgina endures both in the present day and all throughout her very long past.
It’s these two sides of her which so endears Georgina to me. She’s a bright, witty, loving woman, genuinely good (but for that deal made with the devil so long ago, selling her immortal soul to the “other” side), who tries valiantly to face the prospect of living for all eternity, knowing that she’ll witness the passing of so many mortal friends and loved ones... all while she, herself, is an instrument in shortening the lives so many others.
I did get slightly weary midway through, however, of all the recounts of Georgina’s history. That isn’t so much a problem with the story as with my own impatience, though, in dying to see how Georgina would extricate herself from the mess she was in. Within the diabolical framework of the story, it’s essential that she relive those experiences; doing so holds the key to understanding what’s really going on.
There are six books planned in Ms. Mead’s Succubus series, and with only one book to go, I have to say that I have a pretty good idea of how she’s going to wrap it all up(particularly after seeing how this one ended). Still, each book has managed to hold me on the edge of my seat, by turns amused and enthralled--the kind of books I’ve set other books aside for, and ignored important tasks in order to race through in one day. And, while I’m left feeling vaguely melancholy by the ending of this book, I can still say unequivocally that it--like all the previous ones--is a very good ride.
Rock on, Georgina (and company). And rock on, Ms. Mead.
GlamKitty rating: 3.75 catnip mice (out of 5 possible)
GlamKitty rating: 3.75 catnip mice (out of 5 possible)