Take the first sentence of Dark Desires After Dusk:
Cadeon Woede came upon the headless bodies of his foster father and brothers first, the three slain in a desperate defense of their home.
Naturally, Cade blames himself for the gruesome death of his foster family, and he blames himself (and is blamed by others) for the loss of his brother’s kingdom, now ruled by an evil sorcerer who - naturally, he's evil - brutally oppresses its people. So Cade is like the guiltiest person in the world.
To top it off, the only way he can win back the kingdom and redeem himself is by grossly betraying his fated female.
Holly the heroine is also The Vessel (see previous post) and she will bear a child of ultimate evil or ultimate good, depending on the father.
The extremes don’t stop there. Cade is a larger-than-life, slobbish, hedonistic, philandering rage demon. Holly is a tightly repressed virgin mathematician with OCD.
Cade is huge, and he has horns. Holly is a tiny, demure blond.
And so on.
But it’s all very compelling: of course it is. Mix in a little self-referential humour and most times even a grumpy reader is disarmed. A little.
Her brows drew together. “Wait. I’m called a Vessel? Could there be a more derogatory term? By its very definition, a vessel is of no importance compared to its contents… Couldn’t these Lorekind have gone with baby maker or bun oven?
“I lobbied for cargo hold, but just lost out.”
Reading the Immortals is like going on an old fashioned adventure: there are quests, and magical swords and maps marked with X; there are talismans and ancient curses and journeys to the outer reaches of the world (okay, Alaska).
In another nod-and-wink moment, Holly likens her predicament to being in a computer game (“Level one, defeat pervert. Level two, engage army of revenants…")
Throw in some wacky side characters, like the soothsayer Valkyrie Nix (or, Nucking Futs Nix), who enters the story with characteristic élan:
Half an hour had dragged by when a red Bentley pulled up behind them, hopping the curb in an alignment-wrecking jounce…. There were dings in the body, mud all over the tires, smoke tendrils rising from the hood, and at least two bullet holes. A Garfield doll was stuck to the rear window.
That Garfield makes the description gold.
What you get is a perfect cupcake* of a story; light and fluffy with a dramatic swirl of icing on top. Just don't think too hard about the ingredients.
A solid B for Dark Desires After Dusk, though all my points in the post below are still there, niggling. I suppose there’s a lot to be said for charm and slapstick, and a personal chemistry with the writing that can make allowances for all kinds of wrong.
*The cupcake analogy might be flawed, but I spent half an hour looking at cupcakes on the internet. Who knew?
Oooh: Alien cupcakes!
Is anyone else hungry?