Night’s Cold Kiss: Several things to cheer for

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I have a love-hate relationship with vampires. There have been vampire novels that I’ve absolutely adored. There have been others that have flown from my hand into the wall with frightening velocity. Mostly, I just wish there weren’t so darn many vampire novels. My favorite urban fantasies, lately, have been the ones where there aren’t any vampires, or the ones where vampires play a very minor role. When an urban fantasy does feature vampires, my favorite aspects of the book tend to be the places where the author departs from the standard vampire “canon.”

Which means that there were several things to cheer for in Night’s Cold Kiss.

At first glance, Night’s Cold Kiss is quite similar to other vampire-themed novels on the market. The heroine is a butt-kicking vampire hunter, driven to that calling by a traumatic event in her past (a vampire murdered her mother). The hero is a vampire, sexy in a bad-boy sort of way. There’s a lot of slaying and a lot of sex. It’s not bad, per se — in fact, the hunting scenes and the steamy scenes are quite well done — it’s just that I felt like I’d seen this before.

Yet, from the beginning, there were hints that Tracey O’Hara wasn’t just writing a boilerplate vampire novel. The idea of the Necrodreniacs is new. Other authors have dealt with the concept of feral vampires — those who kill indiscriminately and are not governed by reason. O’Hara comes up with a reason why. A Necrodreniac is a vampire who has become addicted to the rush that occurs when a feeding results in death. Necrodrenia is incurable, and other vampires exterminate “dreniacs” any chance they get.

I also liked the unusual origin story, and what I liked best of all was the vampire-slaying school! I loved that, while natural aptitude plays a role, slayers are made and not born in O’Hara’s world. They undergo a grueling training regime and learn their craft.

We follow the heroine, Antoinette Petrescu, through a difficult time in her life. There’s a serial killer on the loose, preying on women who look just like Antoinette, and she just knows the culprit is her mother’s murderer. No one believes her, though, since Dante Rubins is supposed to be dead. Meanwhile, she wrestles with her feelings for Christian, the aforementioned sexy vampire, and with other life-changing events that would be spoily to recount here. The plot moves quickly and with lots of twists.

The last chapters are the best, in my opinion. The ending satisfied me in a way that series-openers often don’t. Night’s Cold Kiss is essentially a set-up novel, moving Antoinette into a position where she’s guaranteed to have a steady string of adventures. (And we’ll be seeing more of that vampire-slaying school!) O’Hara also has one more surprise up her sleeve. She introduces a type of character that is usually evil, tragic, or both in vampire lit, and makes this character a brave, resourceful survivor. I can’t wait to see more of her.

(I still think there are too many vampire novels out there, though.)

Dark Brethren — (2009-2015) Publisher: For centuries war raged between the humans and Aeternus vampires — until courageous efforts on both sides forged a fragile peace. But the rogue Necrodreniacs will never be controlled — addicted as they are to the death-high… and bloody chaos. Since witnessing the murder of her mother, Antoinette Petrescu has burned with fiery hatred for the vampire race — even for Christian Laroque, the noble, dangerously handsome Aeternus who rescued her. Now an elite Venator, Antoinette must reluctantly accept Christian’s help to achieve her vengeance — even as he plots to use the beautiful, unsuspecting warrior as bait to draw out the bloodthirsty dreniacs.

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KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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