What with every other book being a vampire/werewolf/demon book, I admit I’m a bit “paranormal-ed” out. I used to be more adventurous and willing to try new authors, but after reading a number of so-so paranormal books, right now, I tend to stick to the authors I’m familiar with.
So when Richelle Mead’s “Succubus Blues” came out back in March, I read the reviews (good ones, btw), thought “Hmm… US trade paperback? Nah, I’ll wait for the mass market version”; when I saw the mass market version in stores, I read the back-cover blurb, and thought “Nah, I’ll order it off Amazon and get it for slightly cheaper”; and then it came from Amazon and sat in my TBR pile for about a month.
And then I picked it up at 9pm last night, and didn’t go to bed until I finished it.
Right, blurb from Amazon:
Succubus (n.) An alluring, shape-shifting demon who seduces and pleasures mortal men. Pathetic (adj.) A succubus with great shoes and no social life. See: Georgina Kincaid.
When it comes to jobs in hell, being a succubus seems pretty glamorous. A girl can be anything she wants, the wardrobe is killer, and mortal men will do anything just for a touch. Granted, they often pay with their souls, but why get technical?
But Seattle succubus Georgina Kincaid’s life is far less exotic. Her boss is a middle-management demon with a thing for John Cusack movies. Her immortal best friends haven’t stopped teasing her about the time she shape-shifted into the Demon Goddess getup complete with whip and wings. And she can’t have a decent date without sucking away part of the guy’s life. At least there’s her day job at a local bookstore–free books; all the white chocolate mochas she can drink; and easy access to bestselling, sexy writer, Seth Mortensen, aka He Whom She Would Give Anything to Touch but Can’t.
But dreaming about Seth will have to wait. Something wicked is at work in Seattle’s demon underground. And for once, all of her hot charms and drop-dead one-liners won’t help because Georgina’s about to discover there are some creatures out there that both heaven and hell want to deny…
Georgina seems to have it all on the surface – good looks, charm, wit – but actually, no, it’s not all rosy. The second sentence of the blurb above probably sums her life up. Yet she’s not jaded or depressed or resigned. She’s a great heroine, and part of her charm lies with the fact she hasn’t given up, she’s still rebelling in her small way against, well, the middle-management of hell.
Chemistry between Georgina and – okay, this is an urban fantasy – her multiple potential love interests was great. Slight tangent here, but I do think portraying chemistry works especially well in first-person when done well. And Ms Mead does first-person well.
The sex – hmmm… I would have thought I’d be slightly squicked out at the heroine having sex as part of her pact with the devil (hey, she is a succubus), but she’s matter-of-fact about it and has a sense of humour. I admit it. I liked Georgina. And I liked the fact Ms Mead didn’t go for the safer route of having Georgina not have sex. Because that would be inconsistent, and the world-building was great.
She took her time building up her world. And did it rather well. Unlike some other books, I wasn’t flipping ahead to see what was happening next. I was interested in what was unfolding, and the interactions with secondary characters. Right, see minor quibble below, but on the whole, it was interesting. I was fascinated by the interaction between the forces of good and evil – or rather, Carter and Jerome.
The mystery/murder plot wasn’t neglected either. I was genuinely curious about the solution, and yes, that was part of the reason I kept telling myself “Just one more chapter”.
Oh. And the setting completely worked for me. Georgina works as an assistant manager at this bookstore. Fact: I’m fascinated by bookstores. And one of the main characters is a writer, and Ms Mead goes to town on the absent-mindedness side and the ability to just shut out the world. I found that amusing, and had more than a sneaking suspicion that she was drawing upon her own experiences!
What else? I liked the tongue-in-cheek humour – for example, the wry aside about angels not having middle-management, because that was something invented by the dark side. Heh. That made me smile after having a bad day at the office struggling with layers of bureaucracy. But the humour never crossed the line into slapstick comedy, well, almost never, I don’t think.
Quibbles? Info-dumping… just a bit. In a plausible way, I admit. And Georgina’s backstory wasn’t always smoothly interwoven with the main plot. And apart from Georgina, there was a lack of strong female characters – she was just surrounded by guys.
But on the whole, I just found this an immensely enjoyable and entertaining read, and it’s an B+ for me.
I wish I had read “Succubus Blues” earlier, but on the bright side, I now only have to wait three months for the sequel “Succubus On Top” to come out, especially having read the excerpt at the end of this book. I’m very keen to read more about this world, and to get to know the characters a bit more. I’m wondering how Georgina will resolve her pact with the devil (okay, her immediate line manager) with her conscience. I’m wondering how things are going to work out for Georgina and her new man. I’m *hoping* Ms Mead will keep this series moving forward, and that it doesn’t stagnate with nothing getting resolved plot- and relationship-wise. Okay, the last was a bit negative.
Oh bah. I just checked my copy again because the sequel’s title didn’t sound familiar, and the UK version is called “Succubus Nights” and… is out in August 2008. Right, so that would be a more expensive book in January 2008 then.
Ms Mead does have another book out right now. It’s the first book of a YA series and called “Vampire Academy” – I may look out for it this weekend.
ETA: I just re-read this post and am slightly stunned by the number of “okays” I wrote. I’m now going to remove at least half of them 🙂