Book Review: The Key to Erebus (The French Vampire Legend Book 1) by Emma V. Leech

Jehenne has recently moved in with her grandmother in France and is shocked to discover that not only are all sorts of supernatural creatures real, she herself is a powerful witch. Her first meeting with the mysterious and dangerous vampire Corvus doesn't go well, neither does the second when he tries to kill her, but she soon finds herself drawn to him and pulled deeper into the supernatural world.

Book Review: The Key to Erebus (The French Vampire Legend Book 1) by Emma V. Leech | reading, books, book reviews, paranormal/urban fantasy, paranormal romance, vampires, witches
Title: The Key to Erebus
Book Number: Book 1
Pages: 482
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon


This book was pretty much the quintessential “centuries old vampire falls in love with teenage girl *SPOILER* who turns out to be his reincarnated love” *END SPOILER* romance, but the thing about tropes is that they’re not inherently bad, it just depends how they’re written, and I thought this book just so happened to use the trope pretty well in combination with good characters and an interesting story, and the trope was really just used as a springboard into the series as the rest of the books so far have expanded into more unique and mature situations.

I felt somewhat torn about the book though. I enjoyed it, but I also had some issues.

First of all, there was Jehenne. She was by no means perfect, afterall she was still a teenager which means she was still making mistakes and growing and full of strong opinions and emotions, but that was what I liked about her. She felt very realistic and relatable at times. She occasionally made bad decisions, but she also made good decisions other times. She wasn’t always 100% confident in herself, but she wasn’t drowning in low self-esteem either. She made snap judgments sometimes, but she realized her mistakes later and learned from them. She also slapped a big, scary vampire when he called her a slut, which was either very stupid or very awesome depending on how you look at it. And I especially loved that she was kickass with magical powers and a reasonable ability to fight—two things she worked hard on and practiced every day—but also emotional. It seems like so many authors make their female characters emotionless and cold in an effort to make them seem “strong,” but, to me, emotion IS strength, or at least part of it, not to mention it’s just human.

However, I kind of liked her less as the story went on. I hate myself a little bit for what I’m about to say, especially since the first time I read this book I felt like some other reviewers who said the very same thing were just judging Jehenne too harshly, but she could sometimes be too emotional. That whole part when she was upset with Corvus was especially frustrating because her reaction to that bit of news that she got was overdramatic, and it didn’t make sense that she wouldn’t even let him explain his side of things when it was painfully clear that Ines’s version of the story was warped. Jehenne just threw every good thing she knew about Corvus and all the kindness he had showed her out the window the second Ines told her the story. And then the way she continued to push him away later didn’t make sense either. I 100% understood her concerns about him only loving her because she looked like his past love, but how was he supposed to prove that he loved her for her if she refused to ever spend time with him? And that scene when she got unfairly jealous and just kept slapping Corvus until she was exhausted was completely over the top. It also frustrated me that Jehenne just couldn’t seem to understand that vampire society works differently than human society—she seemed horrified or offended by every new thing she learned. And a few of her decisions weren’t quite TSTL but were cutting it close. To be fair about Jehenne’s character though, she always felt consistent, and her emotionalness was just a legitimate part of her.

Then there was Corvus. I liked him, but he was kind of the typical tortured hero/scary-but-good vampire love interest. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though; it just depends what you like. And he did have a bit of a temper, so that could be considered a flaw. Plus he was nearly as emotional and dramatic as Jehenne at times, just with less tears.

As for their relationship, there was no instalove, Jehenne and Corvus took some time to get to know each other before actually deeming it love, but I still felt like the start of the relationship was a bit rushed.

There were also some minor grammar mistakes, mostly punctuation errors and too many exclamation points, so not anything terrible, but it would’ve come across a lot more polished with a good proofreader.

Ok it seems like all I’ve talked about in this review are negative things, but I swear I did like this book. Even though I had issues with certain things Jehenne did, I still loved some things about her. And even though Corvus was kind of typical, I liked him too. And I happen to like drama and angst in romance, so I at least liked the layer of emotion they provided even if I didn’t always understand why the characters were acting how they were acting. Plus the story itself was enjoyable, what with the vampires and witches and shifters and magic and murders and romance. I’ve also already read the second and third books and can tell you that I liked those even more, and they fixed many of the problems I had with this book. So it’s still a book I enjoyed and recommend if it sounds like your kinda thing!

*I’ve read this book multiple times. This review was written after my 2nd read.*

Reread Ratings:
3.5 Stars (1st Read – 2015)
3.5 Stars (2nd Read – 2016)


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  1. Catherine

    I admit, I saw the name of the vampire and immediately thought of the Underworld movie series; it’s Corvinus rather than Corvus, but still the same “Clan of the Raven” type thing (which again comes around with Jéhenne’s surname). Vampires and crows/ravens, such a trope. Get a new bird, guys. XD

    Also ouch on the proofreading things. It’s always a shame when an otherwise good book (trad or indie, regardless) has such issues.

    If you’re looking for another vampire novel set in France, what about Hotel Transylvania by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro? It’s from the 70s (so even older than The Silver Kiss :D), an influencer in the genre. It’s adult historical paranormal with a dash of romance rather than straight PNR. It’s based around a real figure, Saint-Germain, and the titular Hotel Transylvania is a real place in Paris!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Crows and ravens are definitely a popular bird for paranormal creatures and books. He even has a pet crow since it matches his name lol.

      Thanks, I’ll check out that book. I really am curious to try some earlier vampire books now, and I like historical too, so it sounds interesting!

  2. Greg

    I remember liking this cover. And the premise- the whole France thing and supernatural stuff being real, that could be really cool. the trope yeah could be problematic but sounds like it wasn’t here, which is nice. Jehenne sounds like a realistic teen in some ways- too bad she veered into overdrive a bit, but it sounds like a good read all the way around. And the next ones get better… that’s always good. I’m kinda tempted to try these.

    1. Kristen Burns

      It is kind of a striking cover. And I like how the series is set in France, it’s fun reading about other countries. They did veer into overdrive with the emotions sometimes, but the trope worked well here and yeah, the other ones weren’t as trope-y or overdramatic with the emotions. Jehenne actually got really badass in Book 3. I’ll be posting reviews for those as well at some point, maybe they’ll help if you’re still unsure about whether to try the books or not.

  3. Bookworm Brandee

    *giggle-snort* Your review has me giggling, Kristen. You really didn’t sound that wishy-washy, I promise. I can see that you enjoyed the story despite your issues, with Jehenne in particular. I laughed out loud when I read what you said about Corvus being a “tortured hero” because that’s usually kinda your thing. 😉 Anyway, my point is that you’ve intrigued me with your review and I’ll just keep in mind that Jehenne, and at times Corvus as well, can be a little over-the-top emotionally. But really, this is the kind of vampire story I like. Well, one of them anyway. 😉

    1. Kristen Burns

      Lol it just felt like all I said were negative things which didn’t match up to my feelings since overall I liked it. Haha, I do like tortured heroes, you know me well, but I think I maybe used to like them more? Or rather, I still like tortured characters, but I want them to also be flawed and not too perfect. This does seem like a series you might like though!

  4. Maureen Beatrice

    I haven’t read this book. It sounds like one I would like. I loooooove vampire stories. Sorry to read you had some issues though. Too emotional is definitely something that would bother me too.
    But I’ll add this one to my TBR!
    Great review!!

    1. Kristen Burns

      If you’re also a vampire fan, then I do think you might like this one! There was a little too much emotion, but I guess better to have too much than none 😛 Thanks!

  5. Lampshade Reader

    I totally agree with you on the emotion is strength thing. I’m so tired of authors writing heroines who are cold, distant, and sometimes snarky just because they are strong. NO!

    But then again, the way you described Jehenne, I might not like her. LOL It still looks like an interesting read though. ~Aleen

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yes! I’m glad someone agrees about emotion. I much prefer characters with emotion. Even though Jehenne had a little too much lol. (Still better than none though!) And she gets a lot more badass in the later books.

  6. Lola

    I totally agree, tropes aren’t bad or good inherently. Although there are definitely some I like more than others in general. But it all depends on how they are written. Sounds like this series turned out to be a good one. Jehene does sound like well written character. And like you i think emotions are good to see as well and characters just come across as cold when they never show emotions. She also sounds pretty realistic with how she trains hard, makes mistakes, but also learns from them and I like how you describe her as not 100% confident, but also not too low self esteem either. As often it seems to be either of those two, instead of a bit more in the middle.

    Too bad she got a bit too emotional as the story progresses. I always dislike that when characters hear a story from another person they suddenly throw all of their own judgment out of the window and believe them instead of letting the other person involved explain their point of view. Often it just seem to be there to create drama. Although I do like drama in romance books if it is well done. So dram itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

    Good to know there’s no insta love even though things felt a bit rushed at the start. And it’s nice that the series got better as it progresses and fixed many of the issues you had with this one. Great review!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Exactly, they’re not inherently bad, but we all just have some that we like and others we dislike. But in the end, most of them can work well if they’re written well.

      Jehenne was definitely consistent, I’ll give her that, and I do love when characters actually have emotion, but apparently there is such thing as too much lol. Yeah, it really bothered me that she wouldn’t even listen to the other side of the story when it was so painfully obvious that the side she heard wasn’t all there was to it. It did seem to happen that way for drama. But I also agree that I like drama in romances, so drama itself isn’t usually a bad thing for me.

      Yeah, the story definitely moves away from the typical tropes in the later books, and Jehenne gets more mature, so that’s a good thing! Thanks 🙂