Thursday, March 7, 2013

Being A Slave, Sucks! A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest



A Shade of Vampire
Author Bella Forrest

On the evening of Sofia Claremont's seventeenth birthday, she is sucked into a nightmare from which she cannot wake. A quiet evening walk along a beach brings her face to face with a dangerous pale creature that craves much more than her blood.  She is kidnapped to an island where the sun is eternally forbidden to shine. An island uncharted by any map and ruled by the most powerful vampire coven on the planet. She wakes here as a slave, a captive in chains. Sofia's life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn when she is the one selected out of hundreds of girls to join the harem of Derek Novak, the dark royal Prince. Despite his addiction to power and obsessive thirst for her blood, Sofia soon realizes that the safest place on the island is within his quarters, and she must do all within her power to win him over if she is to survive even one more night. Will she succeed? ...or is she destined to the same fate that all other girls have met at the hands of the Novaks?
Review:  I must admit that after reading this barely-a-novel (considering it's only 150 pages), I had to go back and re-read the claim that it was a, "#1 Christmas Bestseller in Vampire Romance, Paranormal and Fantasy," at Amazon. My guess is it was downloaded for free when it debuted. However, to the book's credit, it does have many reviews posted. But here's the deal, I'd be hesitant to take the #1 claim and number of reviews as absolute indicators.  I'm sure they are accurate to some degree, but perhaps the representation is pushing the boundaries a bit?  I've never pointed this out in a review before, but this one has me wincing a bit.

What's the problem, you ask? First of all, whoa, slow-down, eager beaver.  How about some development and foreplay before we get kidnapped, enslaved and fall for a hot guy in another world! The entire plotting is just too darn fast.  It lacks structural maturity and thus, despite the horrific and what should be terrifying events, this reader didn't have time to attach or care very much about what was happening. I'm not suggesting filling in pages with mindless details or purple prose, but work on really characterizing. The thematic stitch of humanization is being thread through the story line, but the characters (humans) really aren't projected to match the theme, which is rather important if you want the audience to care about any of them. The idea of humanization verses de-humanization is intriguing, but the opportunity to strength this is neglected by super sonic pacing. 

I don't like throwing punches, but here it goes. Although the story pitch is an interesting concept, and it does feel like it is still in the conceptional phase, A Shade of Vampire straddles the Twilight cliches. Unfortunately, using this reference is also getting tiresome. Vampire falls in love with human and wants to save her virginity and humanity. Not such a bad idea, as long as an original spin can be put on it. I'm open to the notion, but this falls short for me.  Also, considering the rapid fire speed at which these two spark into devoted loyalty --well, frankly it's annoying. I get the whole 'drawn-to-each-other' romantic thing, but this borders on the absurd. 

Given the length of the novel, I think there is a great opportunity to go back and enrich it. Really dive into the characters and breathe more into them to build the tension of the book. As is, they could all die and I wouldn't blink. There is a good base here that needs to be further flushed out and examined. Really work the theme, think about the layers, and build upon more than just some easy world-building of the Shade/Vale (which should be Veil?), unless we're in Colorado. That's my advice, but Hell, what do I know? Apparently, hundreds of readers think it is just fine as-is.  
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