Rating (out of 5): 3.5 stars
After reading Crusade, I was curious if we were going to get to know Skye better. She’s the witch who fights alongside the hunters — the only witch willing to step across that line and officially align herself with the team who seeks out to destroy the Cursed Ones. She still keeps to the rule of doing no harm, as best she can. If humans are involved, then Skye is out. But we got a hint to a dark past for her in the first novel, and Damned delivers on revelations. Not only will readers find out who Skye is running from and why — she can’t run forever, as past and present collide — but also secrets of Holgar, Jamie, Eriko, Antonio and even Father Juan.
Jenn and Antonio are still the story’s main focus, and their love story gets more complicated in Damned. Really. But in Damned, the door is opened for insight into everyone else. The tale isn’t Jenn’s alone, and each of the hunters are pivotal. In time, we’ll see how much so.
One doesn’t become a hunter, doesn’t leave their family behind to take on a life of death and fear, without a tale of woe. The friction within the team gains clarity as we discover the root to Jamie’s fervent need to kill all vampires and werewolves. The emotional ties pulling the hunters closer and those barriers they refuse to cross begin to chafe. The unrequited love is bubbling over. With so much pain in their pasts, one can’t help but want to see these characters find solace in a bit of love. There are bright moments, but nothing is easy or direct while fighting a vampire war.
And in Damned the stakes have been raised. In addition to dealing with Aurora and her obsession with Antonio (the only vampire with a soul, the one who is a hunter), other vampire leaders are an issue. One has spent years trying to develop a hybrid, the ultimate vampire. He’s created variations, most merging human, vampire and werewolf DNA. Really, his main goal is to synthesize a way for vampires to walk in the sun. And his work is being shared.
With the humans losing the war with the vampires, the hunters have agreed to work with resistance fighters. One never knows if those they’re to work with are really on their side. Trust is no longer freely given, and more governments have appeased the Cursed Ones and blatantly ignore the cruelty and killings within their boundaries.
Damned conjures great plot twists, but takes a bit to get going. If you’ve completely forgotten the key points of the first novel, the opening of the book hammers it in. However, once you’re past the rehash, things pick up and we’re treated to some great flashbacks, huge emotional turns and lots of vampires you’d like to stake. I always enjoy Nancy Holder’s writing as her descriptions are simultaneously visceral and eloquent, and she and Debbie Viguié continue to impress me with their storytelling. Damned is no exception.
Also, you’ll get to learn a few foreign words in this one. The book is good about explaining what they are, but by the time you finish Damned, you’ll know how to say “cool” in Russian. Just in case.
Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguié have been kind enough to offer one copy of Damned to a VBC reader. If you liked the first book, you’re going to enjoy it. The contest is open internationally, just fill out the form below on or before Sept. 12.