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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good follow-up to the Companion, 19 Jan. 2007
This review is from: The Hunger (Regency Vampire Novels) (Mass Market Paperback)
This is the second in the series started with "The Companion", although chronologically it occurs first; the third book is "The Burning". It's probably worth reading them in series order as the author slowly unfolds her vampire worldview and we meet some of the same characters.

"The Hunger" is about Beatrix Lisse, Countess of Lente, a born vampire who is part of an experiment by Stephan Sincai (hero of the third book) to prove that "made" vampires are no different than "born" ones. The vampire Rules require all "made" vampires to be instantly killed but Stephan decided to bring up two vampires equally to prove they are equally entitled to life. Unfortunately for him he picked a rather damaged young "made" vampire, Asharti, to bring up alongside Beatrix and eventually Asharti persuades Beatrix to leave his tutelage and they launch themselves on the world.

Anyone who has read "The Companion" knows Asharti is a nasty piece of work; Beatrix, on the other hand, has spent the last 600 years trying to make up for her first 100 years with Asharti of killing people for their blood. The Countess of Lente is known as a patron to the arts, she is well-liked in the Polite World of Regency London and in fact the men of society, who believe she is a skilled courtesan, all vie for her affections. She isn't actually a courtesan, she uses her assignations with men to feed a little from them and then to give them memories of a night to remember, even though they didn't actually experience it.

However, as soon as she meets the Earl of Langley, John Staunton, she realises he is different from all the other men who cluster around her. Mainly because he doesn't seem all that interested in her - evidently a cause of some pique - and she furthers the acquaintance. He is working as a spy for England and puts himself in harm's way many times in order to try to find out some of Napoleon's plans. Little does he know that Asharti is behind Napoleon's successes and that she is raising up an army of vampires who cannot be defeated by humans.

When John is kidnapped by Asharti, Beatrix goes to the rescue and it is at that point that John discovers she is a vampire and she gets herself caught trying to save him. He knows vampires are evil, having suffered under some tortures from Asharti. Will he do anything to rescue her?

Like "The Companion" this book is set in a very interesting time - the Regency - with the added kick of the vampire theme. I like what Squires has done with her vampires, the vampirism being a kind of blood-borne parasite that lives symbiotically with its host. However, I would not want to be a hero in any of her stories - in each of these three the heroes have spent quite a long time being tortured. John gets off it lightly, having only 3 weeks of torture; in the other two books the men are suffering for 2 years or more. And this is not your regular thumbscrews and rack torture, it's sexual torture and I found that aspect of the book rather distasteful - I felt that the author enjoyed writing about it a little too much. Perhaps it's supposed to be titillating to some readers but it didn't work like that at all for me; I rather wish that side of it was off-scene and more was made of the relationship between Beatrice and John after the rescue.

This is a good book, well-written and engaging (apart from the one reservation mentioned above). I really enjoyed the local colour of a person going to the guillotine and the way people reacted to it in the crowds. I don't think it's as good as the first book and I didn't really enjoy the third in the series but this is still worth a read and has a great deal more character development and growth than an awful lot of other books in this genre.
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