The lines are cut thin between good and evil, and trust and mistrust, in Tracey O’hara’s creepy first Dark Brethren novel, Night’s Cold Kiss.
A woman was murdered whilst her six-year-old daughter watched. Now all grown up, and an elite Venator, Antoinette Petruscu is haunted by the parahuman who murdered her mother. Supposedly he died in a fire, but that’s looking unlikely, and it can’t just be a coincidence that women who share common features with Antoinette are being murdered.
Keeping herself safe whilst investigating means teaming up with Christian Laroque, an Aeternus. Trained to hunt Necrodreniacs addicted to the death-high of draining a human completely whilst feeding, Antoinette is not exactly friendly with vampiric people. But this is a matter of life and death – eternal or otherwise.
Whilst this series’s vampires have a decent dose of originality, they also examplify what I dislike most: blood-thrall. It has the sleaze of mind-rape, though the donors seem rather scarily into it. This never sits well with me, but please persist reading if you’re struggling early on – the last half of the novel is engrossing. The less you know beforehand, the better your reading experience. I can’t name my favourite characters because of their strong connections to major spoilers.
Though the author is Australian, the setting is American, and the only Aussies you’ll find here are in the bar – unsurprising, really 😉
The sci-fi elements are the real drawcards, raising this above most other vampire novels on the market. With memorable scenes and a particularly unforgettable character (you’ll know when you meet her), Night’s Cold Kiss kicks off a series with strong world-building, and hopefully much more science to come.