Reviewed by Ulysses Dietz
Member of The Paranormal Romance Guild Review Team
Nothing like a good riff on the vampire tradition, adding twists and turns along the way to keep you guessing until the very end.
Duncan is just a regular guy who finds himself mysteriously vacationing in San Jose, California. Mysteriously, because he doesn’t have any friends or particular reason to want to go to San Jose. I confess that Duncan seems a little dim to me at times; which is to say that he’s sort of ordinary. And I guess that’s the point.
Oh, and his name won’t be Duncan by the end, but that’s one of the surprises.
Who is the beautiful Juliet de Exter, living in her vast mansion on a sprawling estate in Los Altos? Why does Duncan, a young man somewhat bored with his life, feel compelled to pay a visit to her, along with a group of other perfectly ordinary strangers?
For all the quirky setting and even quirkier set-up, this is a familiar paranormal plot involving politics, history, and an average Joe who finds out he’s not so average after all. Neu has conjured up an action-filled plot with a complicated back-story that manages to keep surprising the reader at each reveal. He’s also filled the book with intriguing characters that add to the texture of the hidden world into which Duncan has stumbled. Victor and Kirtus are special favorites of mine, each of them important in revealing something special about Duncan.
I wish M.D. Neu’s writing was a little more elegant, because he’s got a great imagination as far as the narrative goes. I totally bought into the mystique of Madame de Exter, in spite of moments when Neu’s description of her world makes her sound like a cast member of “Real Housewives of Los Altos,” or maybe Krystal Carrington in the original “Dynasty” TV series. I really want Juliet to be like Cora Grantham in “Downton Abbey.”
What I was particularly grateful for was that, after an explosive ending, the author manages to slip in a cliffhanger without making it annoying. In fact, the finale is a great set up for the second book in the series, “The Called,” which is the reason I bought this book in the first place.