Everdark - Elle Jasper Everdark- Book Two in the Dark Ink Chronicles Series
This is one of those series that you are going to either enjoy or feel is trite. I fall into the enjoy category, and feel that the unique properties of this story far outweigh the trope genre expectations that are fulfilled. It is, however, most definitely a gritty urban fantasy and paranormal romance; meaning lots of ass-kicking and lots of sex.
Picking up right where Afterlight, the first book in the series, left off—Everdark pulls us in as our main character Riley is waking up on “Da Island.” Here we fade in an out of consciousness as she is getting detoxed from two vampire bites with the help of some Gullah magic. I have to say that, to me, the Gullah element in this series is a large part of what makes it not just another vamp book. The voodoo-type element in these books is explored as fact and tradition instead of a splash of color as I have seen it used in many other series. Simply put, they are the good guys—and further a powerhouse that allows the vamps in these books to rise above their base blood-sucking-people-eater natures to be some of the good guys too, all with a relaxed, laid-back vibe.
We also explore the idea of humans with “tendencies,” the result of a vamp feeding and not killing, or the Gullah concoctions that stop a vamp-in-progress transformation we end up with mortals with special gifts ranging from superior fighting reflexes to vamp tracking to an increased libido (that last a bit cheesy, I will admit, and not totally necessary as of yet; but understandable if we go with the concept that these “tendencies” are passed on from the vamp from which you were infected.); the idea being that some of the Vamp DNA co-mingles with the human’s and you have an almost dhampir-like quality to a human including an extended life-span and heightened awareness. This comes in handy when all hell breaks loose.
The first part of this book is the getting to know you bit—training, and character development, filling out the strengths and flaws of our motley crew. We then add in freaky dreams featuring our quasi villain from the first book who manages to put himself in the grey area between friend and enemy and waking nightmares where Riley is forced to experience vamp kills from the point of view of the killer. We also explore the deepening relationship between our two main characters Riley and Eli; where we have the possessive aspects of a very alpha male and the independence of a feisty heroine. I have to say that this type of byplay has been done so many times that I almost look to be disappointed; I haven’t been thus far in this series. I think the difference is the unapologetic nature of their interactions. Eli is a possessive, dominate male who would like to keep Riley wrapped in cotton if it would keep her safe, and considers her very much HIS, and doesn’t share well. Riley is an independent soul whose first priority will always be family; who digs Eli’s protective nature even as she ignores it to go her own way. Usually this would be cause for much yelling and angst in a “you-don’t-understand” theme, I was refreshed to find that skipped in this book. They both know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and will get pissed off when they clash, make decisions that the other does not approve of and generally have lots of branding sex, but they respect each other enough to not try and change the other. I guess I liked that each was true to themselves and not trying to prove that they were stronger, softer, or more lovable to the other.
The second part of the book moves us from Atlanta into Charleston and moves us from the training to the ass-kicking. We have “newlings” who are still-in-transformation-vamps and other vamps that have started to ravage the city; recruiting fight-club style and generally causing no end of havoc. It is here that we learn that our bad guy is none other than the baddie we killed at the end of the first book, revived into a new body, and that his brother, the one who has been sending our heroine dreams may be more on her side than not. We also meet some new good guys, the stand-out being Noah a Charleston vamp and Gullah guardian with mad skills and sex juju that has to be masked by a voodoo charm. The only complaint I had was in the ending of this installment; it cliffhangered. I would a fair bit more upset about this if it did not include the first chapter of the next book that puts the series in a much better stopping spot as far as I am concerned. I don’t usually read that preview at the end of book, but in this case I felt it was well worth it, as it put me in a mind to have enough questions to want to pick up the next installment without having so much frustration as the original ending to the book engendered.
All in all I liked this book, and the series to date. I would give it a solid four or B+ on the scale. It didn’t re-event the wheel, or blow my mind, but it was a great representation of the genre and a solid book with character I want to carry on reading and a world that I would like to continue to visit.