Meena Harper possesses a unique gift, though "gift" may not be the word she would choose to describe it. She is able to see how a person is going to die by merely making eye contact. She can tell this about everyone she meets. Everyone, that is, except herself. Though the futures of those around her are clear as day, she is blind to her own. As a result, she leads a sort of half life where she fears meeting the eyes of strangers, yet when the inevitable contact occurs, she feels compelled to drop hints that warn them of their impending demise. She has learned the hard way that not everyone cares to listen, and her guilt over those she couldn't save stays with her.
Through a series of fortuitous circumstances, she meets Lucian Antonescu, an alleged Romanian prince and relative of her extremely nosy neighbor Mary Lou. Something is very different about Lucian. When Meena meets him, she gets nothing. No sense of how he's going to die. Instead, she gets the sense that he's never going to die. Most likely, this is because he's already dead.
Lucian and Meena's attraction to one another is instant, but it's not entirely as euphoric as newfound love is supposed to be. Lucian has secrets darker than Meena's own, and as a serial killer rampages New York City exsanguinating his victims, Meena's perception of reality begins to shift. She comes to believe wholeheartedly in vampires, vampire hunters, and wars amongst the undead inhabiting the city.
This story is thoroughly enjoyable. I love when a book is able to poke fun at itself, and this novel is most certainly a little self-deprecating. It adheres to the classic vampire mythology: wooden stakes, sunlight, and shifting into bats, wolves, mist and the like. It's protagonist however, abhors anything relating to vampires, finds them to be "monster misogynists", resents having to write about them for her television show Insatiable, and straight out laughs at the mythology the book itself embraces.
Meena is completely relatable as a heroine. She has normal problems, such as being passed over for a work promotion she deserved, despite her supernatural ability. She is quick-witted, and has a wry sense of humor that comes out at the most inopportune moments, providing levity to an otherwise dark tale.
Lucian is a vampire reminiscent of the Stoker-brand of vampire. He's dark, brooding, and quite literally, the prince of darkness. Humor is most often lost on him, and he rules his throng of followers with a lethal brutality. Though his relationship with Meena is a little sudden, their interactions are interesting and heartfelt.
Where Meena's relationship with Lucian is quick and intense, her relationship with vampire hunter Alaric develops more quietly in the background. Though he dislikes her intently at first and thinks of her as nothing more than a vampire's minion, his feelings for her grow as the storyline develops, and I look forward to following their story in the sequel.
The plot moves quickly, and Ms. Cabot ends each chapter with a mini-cliffhanger which makes it nearly impossible to stop reading. There is one scene toward the end, however, that made me go "really? This is what's happening?" Though, upon further reflection, I realize I should have seen it coming as clues are deftly woven throughout the entire story. I'm not sure if this is going to be a series, or if she will end it at next year's sequel, but I know I will be at the bookstore the day it's out to see what becomes of Meena, Lucien and the rest of the wonderful cast of characters.