Summary:As a young man in eighteenth century France, Christian Du Mauré impulsively follows his best friend into the complex and warring world of the Parisian vampires. Against the backdrop of the French Revolution and following an affair with a mortal aristocrat, he promises to watch over her daughter - only to learn the child is his. Now settled in Manhattan, only two descendants of his union remain, Amanda and her brother, Ryan. After Amanda witnesses a savage murder in Central Park, she is determined to find the ethereal stranger who saved her life. When their worlds inevitably collide, Christian finds he cannot prevent Amanda from becoming a pawn in a centuries-old struggle for power. As a confrontation between ancient enemies comes to a head, Christian must face a betrayal from his past that still haunts him and threatens the woman he loves.
Review: I won a copy of this book and Ms Rago also sent me a great postcard.(Thank you! XD) I was immediately drawn to this book not only because of the synopsis (having an immortal stalker y/y?XD), but also because of the gorgeous cover.
I think I may have started reading this the day after receiving it because I couldn't wait. The book follows a centuries-old vampire, Christian from Paris to New York after a tragic conflict with his sire and the rest of her vampire party. Christian was turned into a vampire shortly before the French revolution, not able to withstand the pain of living separate from his lifelong friend, Michel who had already been turned. Embracing his vampiric nature came the blood lust, strength, speed and heightened senses, but also the eternal struggle for power. Had he been turned by another sire maybe things would be different, but Gabrielle was a shallow, selfish and cruel vampire who only craved for power and dominance over other vampires and the world. Vampires often took mortal lovers and it wasn't long until Christian fell in love with a beautiful, dark-haired woman, Josette, who sadly, belonged to another vampire, Gaetan, unavoidably leading to a feud between them. And if that wasn't enough, his sire Gabrielle is not one to tolerate one of her "children" to fall in love with another woman, let alone a human woman. When Josette dies at a fire, she confides in him that her child is his and beseeches him to take her with him. That he does and as he flees to New York, his daughter Solange grows up without knowledge of her true nature as half-human,half vampire, as he wants her to have a happy life. She lives on and has children and when eventually she becomes a vampire she becomes a vicious one and joins forces with the vampire family he left behind. Betrayed by his own child, he vows to look after her human descendants and protect them. It is present day in New York and her last descendants are Amanda, who takes after Josette physically and her brother, Ryan. Amanda is working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and has a love for anything French, particularly around the era of the French Revolution, whereas Ryan always gets into trouble, doing drugs, living on the edge as a bump and always asking Amanda for money. His latest trouble is that he lets vampires feast on his blood underground, constantly putting himself in danger. What he doesn't know is that because he is a hybrid, his blood is not only irresistible to vampires, but can also give them the ability to walk in sunlight. Although, it has been agreed that Gaetan and Christian will never meet again, Gaetan comes from Paris to New York following Lucien and by chance feeds on Ryan discovering his secret. Drawn by lust, his need for revenge and the intoxication of being able to walk in the day, Gaetan plans to use Amanda in his game. Amanda witnesses her other's murder by Gaetan and when Christian saves her she is unwillingly and unexpectedly entangled in the webs of an centuries-old struggle for power and revenge.
~ I must say I really enjoyed this book. I really like things that have to do with France, even though I can't for the life of me learn French (believe me, I've tried, I'm horrible at it). One of the things I loved the most about this book was its wonderful and vivid descriptions. When Ms Rago describes a building or a scenery, she makes you feel as if you are there basking in the glory of architecture crafted hundreds of years ago. I found myself mesmerized by the details of the architecture and everything from the French Revolution to today. Even though I haven't read that many things about that era and I really haven't traveled abroad to know what Central Park is like of the Metropolitan Museum, somehow reading this I felt like I was there and seeing all that was part of my daily life. There's a lot to be said about authors who can do that.
Similarly good was the description of emotions and thoughts by the characters and it felt like being inside their heads, sensing their agony and torment. The premise of the book was quite original and it remind a bit (a tiny tiny bit and if you squint- and usually do :P) of the show Moonlight, where the protagonist saved a a woman as a child and is still protecting her in her late twenties.( I loved the show btw)
In the first couple of chapters I got a little confused with the characters, because they were quite a few (Christian, Michel, Josette, Solange, Gabriel, Gaetan,Amanda, Ryan, Lucien, Etienne, Antoine, Thomas, Bethany, but in the end the most important ones were quite distinct and had their place and purpose. I very much liked Amanda as the main female character, because she was strong and resilient and wouldn't back down. I wouldn't exactly call her fearless (that would be stupid under the circumstances), but after watching her brother get killed by Lucien (although he got his due by Gaetan) and a stranger saving her, it took a lot of courage and guts to actually go after the man that saved you, knowing there's something supernatural and so dangerous about him. Lucien lifted her brother as if he was nothing and killed him, something a normal human wouldn't be able to do. She wants answers and her brother's killer caught and punished and continually pressures the Detective in charge of the investigation (Thomas)into taking action.
It is by sheer luck that Thomas and Christian "work" together and she meets him in the policeman's office and after that she keeps coming after him - at his place, at his bar- demanding that he tells her what he knows.
The development of the romance between Christian and Amanda is also very good. Gradual, believable and undeniable. At first, Christian tries to pull away thinking that Amanda is a descendant of his daughters (hello? incest-like!), but as the story progresses we understand what's at play. Even though Christian is a vampire, there's a sense of nobility in him, mostly because he values the concept of duty and protecting one's family, but he doesn't deny his true nature and I quite flinched at a scene where he grabs a bump on the street and feeds on him till he dies and then throws his lifeless body in the river.
Nothing is black and white but there are numerous of shades of gray in-between and I found that quite honest and real.
Michel, Christian's best friend, was another character I really loved. He comes off as a womanizer, who plans (and succeeds) in sleeping with all of the women in the city and I found myself wondering if that was the only thing about him. But gradually we come to understand that Michel is also a tragic character, compelled to keep a terrible secret from his friend, feeling guilty and it is this guilt, this sense of abandonment and failure that prevents him from giving his heart to a woman or asking it in return, instead settling for what he could have without bonding, sex.
I loved how it all played out and the ending. It put a smile on my face and I'm actually wondering if there will be a sequel! XD
Verdict: Great book. If you love tormented love stories, where vampires and humans intertwine in more ways than one, not just for sex, but also for comfort and companionship and would love to read about the power struggle that can permeate the vampire society and its repercussions, then this story is for you. There's intrigue, romance, mystery, (vampire) politics, friendship,banter, a strong female lead and corruption, loyalty, betrayal and ...well everything... Read it!
Rating: I'm giving this 4 1/2 stars because although it is a fascinating read, I got confused at first with all the names and believe that we could have done with fewer. I understand, however, that the multitude of characters was important to stress the whole vampire society and all the intrigue and power play, so it wasn't a big problem. :)
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL REVIEW FOR SPARK
I'm delighted to share a fantastic School Library Journal review for SPARK:
*Gr 6-10*–Strange and powerful forces are at work in the skies over sleepy
I'm Kelly (aka yllektra) from Greece and I love to read. I read books both in Greek and English (some in Italian, too), but mostly in English.
I love the following genres: YA, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Mystery, Paranormal Romance, Thrillers, Forensic Thrillers, Crime Thrillers, Dystopian, Horror, Vampire/Werewolf/Shifter/Ghost/Zombie, Historical Romance, Biographies, Romance, Science Fiction.
If you would like me to review a book, just ask. I'd d love to and I will always try to have it reviewed within a fortnight - depending on prior engagements.
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