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A new spin on an old school myth
on January 26, 2011
Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy:
Vampire stories have become so prevalent in today's fiction that even readers outside the genre are aware of the trend. This preponderance of preternatural fantasy can make it more and more difficult to find a truly original spin on the vampire myth. Sparkles, soul mates, daywalkers, and boarding school... even though there are great examples of each of these tropes, sometimes it's hard to find the good hidden amongst the derivative. HUNTER AND PREY stands out from the crowd by being retro, embracing parts of the old school vampire myth that are largely neglected in Urban Fantasy today.
While I applaud Salidas's willingness to explore the less popular, more gruesome end of the vampire continuum, her execution left me wanting more. A good premise only gets me through the first few chapters, and unfortunately, the characters in HUNTER AND PREY never really stepped in to pick up the slack. The heroine, Alyssa, justifies killing a human every night with the explanation that she eats "murderers." This nod toward the Dexter defense didn't hold water for me, as Alyssa has only the most circumstantial evidence before she chows down. Every night she ventures out into the Las Vegas darkness, and if she sees you attacking someone, discussing attacking someone, or just generally hanging out in the wrong part of town looking like a threatening man, she's going to eat you. The book opens with a particularly gruesome "feeding", showing right off the bat that Alyssa is not a fainting flower.
To be honest, other than some qualms about Alyssa's profiling methods, I wouldn't have as much of an issue with Alyssa's diet if she herself didn't have bizarre mood swings associated with it. Despite inappropriate giggles and torturing criminals, Alyssa is angry that she is not able to feed without killing (both due to blood lust and the need to kill her victims to keep vampires a secret). Despite being a new vampire surrounded by ancients, she doesn't back down. Salidas is obviously setting Alyssa up to be a force for change in the vampire community, and I imagine future books will continue to explore potential changes to their lifestyle (yes, I just called killing and eating people every night a "lifestyle." That's pretty much how Alyssa treats it. It's like she wants to become a vegetarian and her parents won't "let" her).
The vampire responsible for thwarting Alyssa's quest for a more vegan-vampirism is her lover, Lysander, an odd mix of absentee landlord and controlling boyfriend. Only a few pages into the book he's dismissing Alyssa's concerns about Santino, using vampire mind-tricks to control her emotions, and trying to convince her that a "quickie" will cure all her ills. Lysander's antiquated cure for female hysteria not withstanding, his patience with Alyssa's mood swings and rash decisions is charming. Over two thousand years old, Lysander is learning to open up as much as Alyssa is learning to grow up, and there is enough chemistry between the two of them that I have hope that they'll someday meet in the middle.
Light on character development and long on old school vampirism, HUNTER AND PREY is good for those who are more interested in world building than the characters in it. If you miss the olden days of skulking vampires and hedonistic human-draining, this series is worth a peak.
Sexual Content: Explicit sex scenes, mentions of rape.