Riley Poe is a former wild child, who cleaned up her act, owns a tattoo parlour and is single handedly raising her kid brother. After her brother Seth unwittingly gets caught up in some trouble, Riley finds herself thrust into a world she never knew existed and going back to a world she fought to leave in order to save her brother.
On paper, to me this sounds like my cup of tea - but upon finishing it it was only OK. I think the problem is this book has so much potential, but it was bogged down in places by repetitive dialogue/thoughts/actions which slowed down the pace of the book.
The author is amazing at capturing details on the surroundings - there were times that I could really picture what Savannah and the south must be like.
Riley makes an interesting heroine, she's got a past and is no nonsense, tough and fiercely loyal to those she loves. Although when you get down to the nuts and bolts, how different is she from other heroines in the genre? Not really that different, strong character - check, pretty (albeit in a slightly alternative way) - check, ability to deliver a verbal and physical b**ch slapping - check. But the best part of Riley is her softer side, the relationships that she has managed to cultivate despite her past and the fact that she would be willing to sacrifice herself for the ones she loves.
Another criticism is her relationship with Eli (the brooding hot vampire), in places it sizzles and others it repetitive. They face the usual obstacles, Riley having blood that is super yummy to vamps and Eli having a blood issue. However, they seem to get over it too easily. Also, the fact that at times Riley is quite focused on Eli contradicts the fact that the most important person to her in the world is her brother.
The book really picks up towards the end, but not enough to make me forget the slow pace two-thirds in. Would I read the sequel Everdark: The Dark Ink Chronicles - yes, as there were some threads that were left hanging that were interesting to me. I reckon the best is yet to come.
"Afterlight" is set in Savannah, and tells the story of tattoo-artist Riley Poe who wants to save her younger brother, Seth, from turning into one of the undead. Help comes in the form of the Dupré family --- they are very much vampire-like, but prefer to call themselves "creatures of the afterlight". They made a pact with some powerful hoodoo priests, and are therefore able to walk outside in the daylight. In exchange, they protect the human population of Savannah from evil creatures.
Riley is an interesting character, and I liked her most of the time. There were moments when I wanted to cheer her on, and then there were moments when I wanted to hit her over the head with something. Seriously --- the girl could sometimes be obstinate to the point of stupidity. And, well, at times her "tough girl" act was a little too much for me. But still, overall I liked her.
Eli Dupré, on the other hand, was to die for (pun absolutely intended). I really liked this character, and I would probably read the next book in the series just to get more Eli ...;o)
I also liked the supporting characters --- Nyx, Estelle, Preacher, and Eli's siblings Luc and especially Josie and Phin ... the latter two were just hilarious!
As for the story itself --- well, points for originality, because at least Ms. Jasper tried to create a myth that is different from that in other similar books. And while there is a lot of sexual tension between Riley and Eli --- and while there are a few pretty graphic scenes between them --- her story is not just an excuse to write porn (the way it is with some other popular authors of this genre).
However, there were a few things that bothered me a little. For example, I really didn't need all those details about Riley's outfits. The author described exactly what she put on every time she changed clothes, right down to the clips in her hair.
There are several scenes which just don't feel right, or which should maybe have been handled differently. For example, there's that moment when Riley's best friend Nyx finds her brother Seth floating a few feet above his bed --- you can't really explain that away, right? Yet, the next day, when Riley tells Nyx that it was all to do with drugs, and that Seth was now "in detox" (the explanation for his absence), Nyx --- who is allegedly oh so worried about Seth --- simply accepts that as fact, and never asks any further questions. Hello? Anyone ever heard of someone floating in the air when they were high on drugs? Personally, if it was me, I would be asking a lot of questions after seeing something like that ...
Anyway, overall I'd say it's a promising start to a new series, and I'm pretty sure that I will read the next one when it comes out.
This story is one of the freshest and most modern feeling paranormal romances I've read for a long time. From the emo music references to the pop culture mentions, it feels very "now". The heroine is a kick-ass tattooist based in Savannah, and the Gullah magic references add to the different feeling this story has. There are a few bits of the story that require a little suspended disbelief, but hey, the hero is a vampire, what do you expect?! The romance gets going in this book but really kicks up a notch (or ten!) in the second book. I'm a fan of authors like J R Ward, Nalini Singh and Jennifer Estep and this series will sit happily alongside them on my bookshelf.