by Arthur Slade
Series: Amber Fang #1
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Publication Date: April 16, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
Amber Fang enjoys life's simple pleasures. A perfect evening for her includes a good book, a glass of wine and, of course, a great meal, preferably straight from the jugular.
Raised to eat ethically, Amber dines only on delicious cold-blooded killers. But confirming that her chosen victims deserve to die takes time. And patience. So it's a good thing Amber is studying to be a librarian. Her extraordinary research skills help her hunt down her prey, seek out other vampires and stay on the trail of her mother, who has been missing for over two years now.
But one day while Amber is stalking a rather tasty-looking murderer, things go horribly wrong. Amber has walked into a trap. The hunter becomes the hunted.
Now on the run, Amber receives the perfect job offer out of the blue. Someone wants to pay her to kill (and eat) the world's worst criminals.
It sounds too good to be true.
The thought of a vampire librarian – with a Dexter twist – was enough to make me want to read this book, despite the somewhat stilted blurb. Unfortunately, while parts of it worked, it didn’t work well as a standalone novel for me.
“I won’t have someone else pick my food for me.”
“Food. Is that how you classify us?”
“Do you think that’s a way of shutting yourself off from your connection to humans?”
“I have no connection to humans other than consumption. Oh, and I read their books and watch their movies.”
Raised by her mother to eat “ethically” – only dining on remorseless criminals – Amber’s life revolves around completing her library sciences degree and finding a new criminal every thirty days. When a hunt goes wrong and she’s forced to move on – again – she’s intrigued when she encounters Dermot, a man who says he represents a secretive group called the League, and who want to hire her as their own personal vampire assassin. Intrigued by the thought of getting to travel the world while having her food sourced for her, she agrees to a trial mission. Things, though, are not quite what they seem, and soon Amber may wish she’d never met Dermot at all…
“Mom said never to fall in love with my food, but she didn’t say anything about falling in love with their books.”
First off, what originally drew me to the book – the vampire librarian bit – was my favorite part. I liked reading about Amber’s classes and her love of books and the occasional bit of librarian nerd humor. The rest of it was a bit of a mixed bag. I vacillated between finding Amber annoying and sympathetic. Her entire life revolved around her mother’s rules, with no explanation as to why they were so important. After her mother’s disappearance, Amber was left to fend for herself, seemingly the only vampire in a world full of humans, but she still followed her rules. I felt for Amber, because it did seem like she was trying to do the best she could – surviving – while obviously handicapped by her mother choosing to withhold crucial information from her. It’s no surprise that the instant a friendly face, with superhuman strength and speed, popped into her life, she took a chance on the adventure. What I had a harder time understanding was her near-instant attraction and unfounded trust in Dermot, her League handler. After a life with no close relationships with anyone besides her mother, she practically imprints on him, and rather than enjoying their snarky partnership, I just sort of found it sad and exploitative. Frankly, I found a lot of the League’s actions incomprehensible or just plain criminal (why do the exact things guaranteed to break Amber’s trust?).
In addition to my problems with the plot, I found the writing style very choppy. It’s from Amber’s first-person POV, and there were a lot of short “I did this. Then I did that”-style sentences. It worked well for the action sequences, but not so much for the rest. The book also ended too abruptly for me. While I suppose, in terms of events, it made sense to end the book where it did, I didn’t feel like we had any sort of closure on any of the questions raised. While I understand wanting to reserve things for the rest of the series, the ending left me more frustrated than eager to read the next book.
This sounds like I completely hated the book, but I did find the premise intriguing and I thought the action scenes were well-done. I’m just not much of a fan of books where the main character is kept continuously in the dark and seemingly nothing is explained or even hinted at to the reader. Overall, not a book for me, and I won’t be continuing with the series.