[REVIEW] Ravenous – Sharon Ashwood

Sharon Ashwood
Ravenous (The Dark Forgotten, Book 1)
Penguin NAL Signet Eclipse (US: 3rd February 2009; CA: 5th February 2009)
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Sharon Ashwood gives good haunted house in her paranormal romance, Ravenous.

Ghost-busting grab student Holly Carver is a witch out to make tuition money, but the Flanders House is no easy job. Six people have entered the building, but none have emerged yet. So in goes Holly and her vampire partner Alessandro Caravelli to investigate. Work of demons is definitely afoot, but that takes some kind of sorcery, so who’s the mastermind?

The author’s website proclaims this as “urban fantasy romance”. Ah…no. I much agree with the publisher’s label of “paranormal romance”. The first three chapters are intriguing, and Flanders House makes for one hell of an interesting read. But the rest of the novel doesn’t live up to it, though there are worthy scenes here and there.

The problem lies mainly with the characters. Long-haired, leather-clad vampire Alessandro has superficial qualities (if you go for that unoriginal type), but otherwise I can’t really describe his character. He doesn’t come alive. Same with Holly, bordering on being a Mary Sue – three guys fancy her (including her 1 tru wuv, so the others have to be evil, right?) for no particular reason I can see other than she’s there. And Holly has a lot of powerful magic, only it’s crippled in the beginning. But of course it’s conveniently restored for her to defeat the baddies, but I would’ve respected her more if her powers had remained handicapped.

A childhood accident led to Holly’s magic being crippled, but for me her sister Ashe Carver deserves her own novel. She has the more interesting story: Ashe had magic, and then she lost it for good. So how is she dealing with paranormal problems when she no longer has her powers?

The author has the potential to write some really interesting stuff. But for now her characters need to step out from their prescribed cardboard cut-outs and become more like real people. Ravenous should go down a treat for paranormal romance fans, but urban fantasy readers might be less than impressed.

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