Author: Elle Jasper
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: The Dark Ink Chronicles (Book 1)
Publication Date: November 2, 2010
Format: Paperback, 336 Pages
Synopsis (Product Description):
As Savannah’s most unconventional tattoo artist, Riley Poe is quite familiar with the local underground scene. She lives and works on the edge of it every day.
Now, she’s about to step over the edge.
When her younger brother is taken by a sinister cult led by centuries-old vampires, Riley discovers a world of shadows and blood–and those who exist there.
Her ally is the hot-tempered vampire Eli Dupre, who is attracted both to Riley’s beauty as well as her one-of-a-kind blood type. A blood type he is not alone in craving.
To save her brother from certain un-death, Riley will face dangers she’s never dreamed of, ruthless bloodthirsty enemies, and an evil of endless hunger that wants to devour all in its vile grasp.
Quick & Dirty: Unfortunately, this story is not well crafted. The dialog is distracting and repetitive. There is nothing unique or novel to make the story stand out.
Opening Sentence: Afterlight. According to the Gullah, it meant two things. One: darkness or dusk. Two: death, the life after, or beyond. I’m familiar with both.
Riley Poe isn’t exactly your model citizen. She has a dark and derelict past. Highly sexed, drug addicted and out of control, Riley finally manages to turn her life around. Riley is a tattoo artist in Savannah, raising her teenage brother, Seth, after the death of their mother. Bored and looking for something to do, Seth and his friends decide to raise some hell in a cemetery (quite literally). Naturally, things take a turn for the worse as a result of the cemetery prank. Riley becomes increasingly concerned about the crowd that Seth is hanging out with. Seth is in trouble and Riley struggles with how to help him. Eli, a “dangerous” yet “good” vampire decides to make his presence known. He’s Riley’s guardian, sent to help her through this crisis. Seth is experiencing the “quickening,” the phase that precedes the vampire transformation. Together, they embark on a treacherous journey through the underground Savannah to save Seth from rogue vampires, and each other.
First, I must note that this book falls under the urban fantasy genre, not paranormal romance. When I received an ARC of this book, for some reason it was billed as paranormal romance. From the very beginning Afterlight presented problems, and unfortunately, it doesn’t get any better. If I had to identify two things that really killed the book for me, it would be the convoluted plot and the poorly constructed characters. It’s hard to connect with any of the characters and the plot would have benefited from tighter and trimmed down revision. The opening chapters are too cluttered with minutiae, and does nothing to really move the plot forward. The pacing of the book is extremely slow and the dialog repetitive. Afterlight has too many coincidences that eventually become rather hard to believe.
Riley Poe isn’t an engaging narrator. The narrative is disjointed, and isn’t particularly well written first person. It was virtually impossible to develop a rapport with Riley’s character. It’s not that Riley’s bad decisions make her an unlikable character; she’s just not a well crafted urban fantasy heroine. Riley doesn’t have much of a backstory, and what we do know is by way of endless exposition rather than through Riley’s actions. Despite what we are told about Riley’s past, she herself never feels authentic. Riley has supposedly experienced a troubled past, lived her life on the edge. Yet, nothing in her behavior or mannerisms suggests that she’s street smart, hardened, let alone hard core. Just because Riley works at a tattoo parlor, dresses a certain way, and speaks “street” lingo from time to time; doesn’t make her “down for the cause”. I never once believed for a second that she was tough, capable, or smart. Without a doubt, Riley is more trashy than she is classy.
Eli Dupre is a forgettable vampire. There isn’t anything really groundbreaking or sexy in terms of the vampire lore, and nothing really sets this novel apart or stands out in the sophisticated and crowded urban fantasy market. I never felt that Eli and Riley had much of a connection. Their relationship seemed based more on convenience and circumstance.
I couldn’t escape the feeling that Afterlight tried really hard to be something that it’s not – complex, layered, dark and gritty. I got the impression that Ms. Jasper was striving to capture the gritty elements of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J. R. Ward. The street lingo and the characters constant desire to be badass, hip, cool and in their “element” felt contrived, and painfully transparent.
Another aspect of the novel that didn’t work well was the Gullah speech. For example, some characters speak Gullah, a type of pagan English. While it’s a nice attempt to achieve some level of authenticity, it falls somewhat flat in light of Afterlight’s aforementioned weak characterizations and poor pacing.
Overall, Afterlight has too many problems to recommend. It isn’t particularly exciting or suspenseful. Its lack of depth and poorly written characters are the final nail in the coffin for Afterlight.
I was somewhere completely different and unfamiliar, and I immediately knew it was a place where I was definitely not welcome, a total stranger. As if I inhabited some weird apocalyptic world, I lived in a derelict warehouse with rats, flaking paint, and broken windows, and when I looked outside, everything was gray, bleak, and lifeless – except for me. Then I saw them – vampires – and at first they were on the street below, maybe eight or ten of them; young, raggedy punks. In the next second, they’d leapt onto my balcony, and I stumbled back, then started to run. All through the warehouse I tried to escape, but they were all around me, leaping from the rafters overhead, toying with me, laughing; I knew then that I would never outrun them, so I turned to fight. I was surprised to find a small silver blade strapped to my thigh; it hadn’t been there before. Against a wall I turned, drew my weapon, and aimed. One flew toward me, face contorted into monstrous bloodlust and hatred, jaw hyperextended. It was Seth. My fingers froze on my weapon. I couldn’t do it. Then the others joined him as they descended upon me, merciless and horrific, and I screamed my brother’s name so hard the lining in my throat was scorched.
The Dark Ink Chronicles Series:
2. Everdark (June 7, 2011)
FTC Advisory: The author provided me with a copy of Afterlight. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. In addition, I don’t receive affiliate fees for anything purchased via links from my site.
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