REVIEW: Personal Demon by Susan Sizemore
Dear Ms. Sizemore:
Personal Demon is an extension of your popular Laws of the Blood series that I enjoyed quite a bit. What I recall enjoying about the series was the unromanticized version of vampires; there was a careless brutality and a seeming near constant jockeying for power amongst the vampires. It was more akin to Anne Rice than Christine Feehan and they weren’t really romances. The political power of those stories and the strength of the worldbuilding weren’t evident here. Instead, more traditional romance tropes seemed to be shoehorned in to make the story more palatable to romance readers but the blend of sex and mystery was hard to follow and hard to connect with.
Ivy Bailey is a vampire hunter in Chicago. There is evidence that young women in Chicago are being targeted by a vampire. Christopher Bell is a Vampire Enforcer, a vampire charged with policing the vampires. In the beginning, Ivy is unaware of Christopher’s intentions. She even believes that he might be responsible, but still has no problem with him making sexual advances toward her.
If I was to truly buy into the setup I would have to believe that this woman whose job it is to hunt and kill vampires would engage in erotic machinations with one she believed killed two young people. She didn’t appear to have a self destructive dark desire for danger. So where is the revulsion? Or even self disgust? Sure those two things don’t fit in with the overall narrative of pretty ingenue falls in love with big bad strigoi but those reactions would be a natural extension of a woman who hunts vampires and believes them to be evil beings.
Jack the Ripper makes yet another appearance in fiction. In this incarnation he is a demon’s slave working for the enslavement of all for his master. His nefarious deeds are put to an end in 19th C but his master comes into new power and resurrects these once dead evil doers.
But rewriting history doesn’t stop with Jack. Indeed the demon decides to reanimate the worst serial killers: Ted Bundy, John (whom I assume is John Wayne Gacy), and some guy named Dick (whose origin I was unsure).
To my mind, renaminating a bunch of sick killers who slaughtered women for perverse reasons makes little sense if you are trying to take over the world. Doesn’t Hitler or Napoleon make more sense? Ghenghis Khan? It is like choosing a bunch of orcs when you could have Sauron.
Much of the story is written as if everything is a secret. The heroine’s past, the hero’s past, both of their motivations. I understood that the attempts to obfuscate the hero in the mind of the heroine was to introduce some type of gothic tension. Was her really a Demon’s slave? I find this technique to be less than successful in romance books. The reader never buys into it so why should the heroine? Ivy is a psychic with lots of latent power. Christopher is a 19th Century vampire who tastes or sense things through their colors? I didn’t really get it but when they were having sex the first time, it was green.
Unfortunately, this was a less than successful reanimation of the Laws of the Blood series. It was too much lust and too little love; too much mystery and too little believable conflict. My color is kind of blue for disappointed. C-