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on 23 November 2007
How many books have, as their hero, a mass-murdering sadistic psychopath? How many books have, as their heroine, a former HIV-positive wild child? In that respect "Shadows On The Soul" is very different with Killer vampire Gabriel the hero and new vampire Jezebel the heroine. Gabriel made Jezebel a vampire after she was gang-raped by a lot of other vampires in a previous book but, in making his first fledgling, he set himself on an entirely new course.

Gabriel is angry with his father Eli, leader of the Guardians (a group of vampires who don't drink human blood and who try to dispatch vampires that do). Clearly Gabriel is one of the Killers that the Guardians need to dispose of and yet Gabriel knows that his father has hardly had an innocent life. When Gabriel decides to travel to Philadelphia to kill his father, Eli, and takes Jezebel with him, he finds things not exactly working out as he expected. Particularly as his mother Camille, in league with the evil Bartolomeo di Cesare, and along with a powerful born vampire Brigitte, is also after Eli and has a special method of disabling Eli that might just work.

In the first scene of the book we are with Gabriel as he kills a woman by drinking her blood. However, right at this first part of the story, it becomes clear there's more to Gabriel's sadistic psychopathic murdering than meets the eye. He doesn't choose his victims at random and he has some strange other attributes, such as being unable to see children hurt without trying to get revenge on those who hurt them. As the story unfolds and Jezebel and Gabriel find themselves linked in terms of emotions - they can feel what the other is feeling - Jezebel begins to learn more about Gabriel's true nature and whether, underneath the scary exterior, there's more to him than the others realise.

In some ways I felt the book copped out a little in terms of its bold start. As it becomes clear that our mass-murdering sadistic psychopath isn't those things but that there are reasons for everything he does and that he doesn't actually like the sadism, it's just something he's been told, we begin to discover that Gabriel is almost one of the goodies. The author continues to drip-feed us information on Eli and his history and his apparent omnipotence and his great goodness are continuing to be chipped away. Drake, the only Killer within the Guardians, is getting so disillusioned by all that he learns and the end of this book sets him up as the hero of the next one, starting in a different city. So the bold and strong start is rather filtered down by the time the book ends and our shocking hero and heroine seem significantly less shocking.

Jezebel's role in this story, as the heroine, is quite understated. She's not really a woman of action, more of emotion, and as we learn about her appalling history it becomes apparent why she might be attracted to Gabriel - an attraction to someone who has suffered and who understands, perhaps. I was a little surprised that the Guardians seemed to forgive her for being a spy on several occasions but overall she did come across as a sweet and nice girl in rather over her head with Gabriel the monster.

The pacing of this book was rather better than "Secrets In The Shadows", the previous book in this series, as more events took place and much more attention was paid to the characters which made the book more satisfying. This was a good read which provided some interesting food for thought although perhaps not utilised as fully as it could have been.

Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book, © Helen Hancox 2007
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