This is one of those books that’s going to be hard to write a review for because I feel like I can’t quite explain everything I’m thinking properly, but I will try.
First of all, I love vampires. And this book was vampires done just the way I like them: sexy, but unpredictable and dangerous. They might keep their fangs off you, they might give you a pleasurable bite, or they might rip your throat out; it just depends on the vampire and the moment. And even though there was a romanticism to the vampires, the author also showed the gritty, horrible, reality of them, of what they can do, of the things that happen because of vampirism (like people getting killed even if it’s an accident), of what it’s like to live with them in the Coldtowns.
And speaking of the Coldtowns (the places where the vampires lived), the world-building for those, or for the one that Tana was in at least, was so interesting and well done. The reality shows based there for the humans to watch, the bartering and businesses that existed within the Coldtown, the humans with shunts on their arms who were desperate to become vampires themselves, the impoverished way of living for many people in the Coldtown, the humans who never wanted to be in the Coldtown but got trapped there when it was set up, the markers for getting out and what people will do to get them, the neverending parties… So much thought put into it all. And I mean, just the idea of the Coldtowns in the first place was something unique I’d never seen before.
Another great thing about the book was the complex, flawed characters. Tana sometimes played with fire or made bad decisions but I liked her because she always kept fighting, trying to escape, not giving up, and she tried her best to do what was right. But she also knew when to stop taking shit and put herself first, even if it meant possibly hurting someone. And Aidan did a lot of crappy things to Tana, but he was still charming and sincere and sometimes sweet, and I loved his character because he was so well-written and interesting and truly flawed. I found myself falling for his charm even though I knew I shouldn’t, so I could totally see how Tana fell for him. Gavriel was interesting and flawed as well, just in different, more dramatic ways because of his past and vampirism and insanity.
As a kid, she’d occasionally wondered what it’d be like to meet a vampire that had been alive for a long time. She’d imagined it being like meeting a very old person, someone with a lot of experiences and a bunch of weird stories about walking around during the French Revolution. But spending time with Gavriel, she thought that every day since the one he’d died was not one where he aged, but rather one where he grew away from humanity. He didn’t seem older than he must have been when he died; just entirely stranger.
That’s something I think about even. I read a lot of vampire books, and I wonder, what would a vampire who’s been alive for a long time actually be like? Would they be like an old person? Would they act the age they look? Would they be monsters? Would they still just seem human? Would it just depend on the vampire? But that quote about Gavriel is such an interesting way of looking at it.
The writing was also pretty in this eerie, strange kind of way. And there were some brilliant quotes, like the one I shared above. I’m not sure how I feel about the flashbacks and some of the POVs that might not have been necessary, but those are pretty minor issues.
So overall, this was a kind of eerie feeling book with great writing, sexy but dangerous vampires, amazing world-building, and complex characters that I’m very glad I gave it a read!
Anyone who likes romantic but still dangerous vampires, complex and flawed characters, and a unique world.