Saturday, April 23, 2011

Always the Vampire by Nancy Haddock

Always the Vampire. Nancy Haddock. A Berkley Trade Paperback: Penguin Books. May 2011. 342 pp. ISBN #: 9780425240885.

Francesca Melisenda Alejandra Marinelli, St. Augustine, Florida's only vampire, is a competent woman who gives ghost tours and presently is sharpening her skills as her best friend, Maggie O'Halloran's maid of honor and organizer for an absolutely perfect wedding. Some initial challenges arise with an increased number of unexpected guests and other matters, but suddenly a more formidable threat to the peace and well-being of all appears.

A disease is spreading among vampires which seems in essence to be sucking the life out of them a little at a time, altering their physical condition in a most sickening manner that is only the precursor to a horrific death. The disease is known as the Void, explained to "Cesca," as she is known, as a nonphysical thought form, "a magical construct, likley created in a ritual that focused willpower, visualization, and life force energy," one that is directed by its Creator. Who is the Creator and what is the intent of such a destructive entity? Therein lies the challenge behind this paranormal romance that is also a well-developed mystery with just enough clues to keep the reader flipping the pages to reach the unexpected conclusion.

Along the way, the reader meets a bevy of characters with unique personalities that are funny, fearsome, and possessed of magical powers well-needed as the complex plot unfurls and eventually ties together somewhat confusing loose ends. Passion in relationships abounds, with some remnants from the past resolved with some testy but funny banter.

Cesca's life is threatened frequently, although she seems to the only vamp immune to the encroaching power. Powers pass through various time and space patterns known as the Veil. Cesca, as well as the other characters, must be trained to tackle the devastating, new, and increasingly dangerous events that are kiling human beings as well.

Sometimes difficult to follow but ultimately a light, funny story, Always the Vampire is the third novel in this series that will delight all who love vampire stories, mysteries, the paranormal, and good romance tales. Cesca is a sassy, modern, and feisty vampire character for sure! Very cool story!

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