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Succubus Blues, by Richelle Mead
Genre: Modern/Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Kensington Publishing
Published: 2007
Review Posted: 8/26/2007
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 8 out of 10

Succubus Blues, by Richelle Mead

Book Review by C. Dennis Moore

Have you read this book?

A long time ago--possibly thousands of years, it's never made all that clear--a woman named Letha slept with a man named Ariston. A lot. Problem was, her husband's name was Kyriakos. When Kyriakos found out, Letha was so disappointed in herself, she made a deal with the devil to wipe herself completely from Kyriakos's memory. In return for his peace of mind, she agreed to become a succubus and spend the rest of eternity corrupting mortal souls for Satan. Now, many years later--possibly thousands of years, it's never made all that clear--Letha is a woman named Georgina Kincaid who lives in Seattle, works in a bookstore, and hangs out with her best friends Cody (a vampire) and Hugh (an imp), while being a thorn in the side to her boss Jerome (the archdemon of Seattle) and rival to Jerome's pal Carter (an angel). There's your backstory.

Succubus Blues, by Richelle Mead, is the first in a new series designed to play to the Laurell K. Hamilton readership who want more sexy, sleek and hip monsters in the modern world than Hamilton and her Anita Blake character can provide. Along with Carrie Vaughn (author of "Kitty and the Midnight Hour" and other Kitty books I haven't read), Mead and, I'm sure, a slew of other new authors out there are trying to force their way into the slot Hamilton's been dominating for some time. Problem is, Hamilton fit so well into that slot because what she was doing was fairly original. At the very least, no one seemed to be doing it quite as well as her. Vaughn and Mead however . . . well, they're just copying what's been done before, aren't they? Modern day professional woman with a hip pad and cool, offbeat friends, thrust into the middle of some new mystery only she can solve because she doesn't play by the rules. Plus they have lots and lots of sex.

For Georgina Kincaid that mystery involves figuring out who's been killing Seattle's immortals. Clues are dropped, red herrings are brought in, and everyone is on their guard. In the end the culprit is revealed, no one is surprised (Christ, Mead dropped enough hints, she practically spelled it out for us, "I want you to think it's this character but aren't I sly, it's really this one!"--Um, no, you're not sly, it was obvious to anyone who's ever read a similar book, this is by-the-numbers stuff), and we all go home a little less fulfilled than we'd like.

Mead is a good writer, she knows how to set a scene and her dialogue is fine, although she tries to make Georgina appealing by making her funny and, unfortunately, the one-liners and offhand zingers aren't as amusing as I think they're meant to be and it comes off a little forced, honestly. The humor here doesn't read as if it springs naturally from the story or the writing, but instead feels purposely placed.

Mead's creating a world here, setting us up for more Succubus novels to follow, only I wouldn't be a bit surprised to find out the extent of her playbook consists mainly of characters and their backstories along with their relationship to each other. I don't believe she's set down any solid ground rules here because every so often she'll drop a new detail that you can tell she made up right then, for instance:

He ushered me inside, straight to a bathroom where I promptly knelt and paid homage to the toilet, again releasing more liquid than I had realized was in me. I felt distantly aware of Seth behind me, pulling my hair out of the way. Dimly I remembered that higher immortals like Jerome and Carter could be affected by alcohol as little or as much as they liked, choosing to sober up at will.

What the hell kind of rule is that? Doesn't make a bit of sense to me, has not one single thing to do with the story, and comes out of nowhere. It certainly doesn't do anything to further the mystery of who the culprit is, like I said we figured that out already.

And, once again, we're faced with a novel in which the main action consists of mundane daily activities. Georgina goes to work in a bookstore and chats with her friends, she teaches a dance class to her fellow employees after hours (what?), she goes to dinner, she goes to a child's birthday party with a friend, she puts together a bookshelf with another friend, she does a whole lot of nothing and we're supposed to care because the killer of immortals has made her important by leaving her notes and telling her how pretty she is.

Honestly, and no offense toward Mead, this book and most others like it that I've read all come off as nothing more than simple wish fulfillment. The nerdy guy in school who reads super-hero comics (guilty) because while Spider-Man is struggling to pay his rent he's also saving lives and married to a friggin' (former) supermodel. Georgina Kincaid is a star among her friends, she always knows just what to say and, from the outside, she seems to have an enviable life. Plus she gets all of her power by having sex, and that power enables her to be as beautiful as she wants and she's able to charm any man she comes in contact with because, as she tells us, she's the best Succubus in Seattle.

But back to the story. So even though we're given a laundry list of Georgina's day to day activities while she also tries to hunt down this killer, we're expecting some big payoff to make the mundane stuff worth the effort. Should be a stellar climax, right? I mean we've got a Succubus, a vampire, an imp, angels and demons . . . this is gonna be awesome.

WRONG! The big fight happens, sure enough, but we certainly don't get to watch. Instead, while the action rages around her, we're treated to four pages of Georgina feeding off one of the other characters in order to save her own life, soaking up his energy and thoughts and we replay all of his interactions with Georgina and realize he's in love with her--naturally--and when she finally gets enough and comes out of her feeding trance . . . well, the fight's over. Good guys won. Of course.

WHAT? Hey, where'd the action go? You mean I sat through 340 pages of bookshelves and ice cream parlors so this chick could realize the true meaning of love? That's crap! I'm all for a slow buildup, as long as the release is worth the trouble. This was definitely not, and I'm not happy about it.

I was concerned at first that I was the wrong person to be reviewing this book because it's really just not my thing. But then I realized I'm exactly the person to be reviewing it BECAUSE it's not my thing. The readers who dig this kind of stuff may just love Succubus Blues, but to those of us who don't normally read it? It's like Jesus sitting at the table with the sinners, you know? He's doesn't have to convert the believers, it's the ones outside that circle he's come to save. And it's the ones who don't normally read these books that should be most swayed by its brilliance. Unfortunately, this first installment doesn't strike me as brimming with brilliance. It's just another series novel to me. Nothing I can't get elsewhere, and not being one to normally read this kind of book, nothing I'm all that excited to keep reading. I came to mountain to hear the good word but the good word turned out to be pretty much what the guy on the next mountain over was saying yesterday.
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