THE DARK HEROINE: DINNER WITH A VAMPIRE
The Dark Heroine #1
Paranormal New Adult
Available March 5th
Received from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
One moment can change your life forever...
Violet Lee, a chance encounter on a darkened street draws her into a
world beyond her wildest imaginings, a timeless place of vast elegance
and immeasurable wealth – of beautiful mansions and lavish parties –
where a decadent group of friends live for pleasure alone. A place from
which there is no escape...no matter how hard Violet tries.
all the riches in the world can’t mask the darkness that lies beneath
the gilded surface, embodied in the charismatic but dangerous Kaspar
Violet and Kaspar surrender to a passion that transcends their separate worlds – but it’s a passion that comes at a price...
The Dark Heroine lives up to the adjective in its title, introducing us to a world where vampires are not the romantic heroes of recent fiction, but rather anti-heroes seemingly unconcerned with winning our affections in favor of unapologetically making us see who they truly are. Thus our relationship with Kaspar, his family, and his world is a fragile and unsettling one, often pushing the boundaries of our tolerance and challenging our capacity to forgive at every opportunity, but even as our hearts and minds struggle with what they can and cannot accept we find ourselves deeply intrigued. Ms. Gibbs is without a doubt a talented storyteller, impressing us with her ability to create such morally and romantically ambiguous characters and delighting us with her talent for making a 500+ page tale feel as though it's over in the blink of an eye.
Though this story alternates between Kaspar and Violet's point of views, it's Violet with whom we spend the most time, but despite our extended access to the inner workings of her mind, she remains a young woman we can't quite figure out. There are some behavioral inconsistencies for all the characters across the board, but given our ample time with Violet hers are the most pronounced for us, her thoughts and actions completely unpredictable in a way that keeps us at arms length as we fight to get a handle on who she is. While she deals with many of the difficult situations admirably given her young age, there are times when she either underreacts to situations we feel bear more of an emotional response from her, or overreacts to things we don't anticipate given her behavior up to that point. As a result, our relationship with her feels tenuous; a fragile string connecting us that's stretched unnervingly tight every time she reacts somewhat erratically, keeping us anxious that it will break without notice and leave us with nothing.
Kaspar is as much a puzzle to us as Violet is, his behavior throughout like a test Ms. Gibbs is administering to us readers to see who will stick with him long enough for his layers to be peeled back. He is generally unlikable from the very beginning and for much of the first hundred or so pages, making us think he's going to need every one of the remaining four hundred to reverse our current opinion, but the saving grace for us is Violet herself. She shares our instant dislike of him and all he represents, so we're able to find some comfort in the fact that she's not a girl pining for and mooning over a boy who treats her poorly. Ms. Gibbs does a beautiful job of slowly endearing Kaspar to us, though each moment of vulnerability is often accompanied by a reminder of how brutal he can be, and in the end he's someone who holds us transfixed even if a handful of niggling doubts about him remain.
A few of those doubts we have with regard to Kaspar are a result of questions we have about this world of vampires itself, some of the rules that govern their society and their method of feeding not entirely clear and thus coloring our perception of the characters themselves. For instance, Kaspar eventually reveals that they don't have to kill to feed (it's also made clear that they can feed on animals, bagged blood, or even other vampires), but they often do commit murder in the name of survival, leaving us to wonder how deep the pleasure of the kill is ingrained in them and even more so, how we feel about that given one such killer is our romantic lead. Overall though, this tale is quite entertaining, our issues with it actually a sign of our deep interest given they keep us thinking of Violet and Kaspar long after we finish reading, and Ms. Gibbs is certainly an author to watch for me moving forward.
Rating: 3.5-4 out of 5 (I'm giving a range because there are some days where the inconsistencies in the characters' behavior bothered me more than they did on others, but all in all, I'm excited to see what's to come in book two.)