REVIEW: Red Kiss by Deidre Knight
Dear Ms. Knight:
The first book I read by you was Red Fire (which I thought I had written a review for but could not find in the archives). I enjoyed Red Fire and didn’t hesitate to pick up Red Kiss. The premise of the Gods of Midnight series is that on the last day of the Battle of Thermopylae, King Leonides and his six most faithful warriors, awakened on the banks of the River Styx. Ares, the god of war, materializes and offers the seven immortality if they would continue to fight against “every form of evil that threatened humanity.”
All of the warriors agreed except for Kassandros, the servant of Captain Petrakos. Kassandros was not given a choice, but instead was dipped in the River Styx by Ares. While each of the other warriors can shift into a bird of prey, Kassandros was made into a weapon. At the command of his master, Ajax, Kassandro becomes a blade. During his last battle he shapeshifted into a dagger and was thrown into a waterway near Little Tybee Island. The dagger wants to possess him and the longer that he remains in the dagger form, the less likely he will ever escape. He will be a sensient being but only in the dagger form.
Emma Lowery is a spiritually gifted woman who has suppressed her abilities after she lost her twin as a young girl. On a camping trip with her best friend, Evan, Emma hears the spirit of Kassandros call for her from the dagger, begging her to save him.
For much of the book, Emma is in position of power. She is the only one that can hear Kassandros. She is the only one who can save him, much to the chagrin of his brothers in arms. The conflict that keeps them apart, however, is Kassandros’ bloodlust. After being in battle, Kassandros is engulfed in bloodlust which can only be salved through sexual release. Or by talking him down.
The problems I had with the book stemmed more around the worldbuilding than anything else. Kassandros’ overwhelming bloodlust seemed exaggerated since every time in the past his friend Ajax could talk him down. Further, for all the power of the bloodlust, Kassandros was able to time and again push Emma away even when she was throwing herself at him. I felt like I was supposed to believe that Kassandros was at the precipice of crazy and just the slightest touch of female flesh would make him into a ravening beast, but I never saw it.
Further, the warriors are in conflict with the god of war, Ares. I didn’t understand the motivation of Ares to abandon his warriors or how it seemed contradictory to their initial charge to protect all humanity from evil (why would Ares be interested in protecting humanity from evil in the first place. As the god of war, you would think that Ares just wanted people to be fighting).
I did like Emma’s characterization and how she was proactive in trying not only help Kassandros but was actually the aggressor at times. Kassandros kept saying no and Emma kept saying yes. Of course, Emma wins in the end.
I didn’t love the focus on the other characters because I felt that there are so many storylines that are being built up that I didn’t get enough time with Kassandros and Emma. I know I am in the minority in this regard but I do feel like it tends to detract from the main romance. C