fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsurban fantasy book reviews Sharon Ashwood 1. RavenousRavenous by Sharon Ashwood

Ravenous is the epitome of a middle-of-the-road book. It’s an entertaining read, but not one I’d jump to recommend.

Classified as paranormal romance, Ravenous follows the structure of that genre, but also includes plenty of urban fantasy elements and will probably appeal to readers on that side of the subgenre divide. The central characters, Holly (a witch) and Alessandro (a vampire), fall in love while trying to prevent a demon from wreaking havoc in their city. Sharon Ashwood tells the story in third person, with the point of view alternating between Holly, Alessandro, and occasional others.

Ashwood’s best touch is probably the witch houses. In this universe, when a witch family lives in a house, the building absorbs a great deal of power and becomes partially sentient. We see two examples in the novel: one benevolent and one gone horribly wrong. Another fun aspect is the snarky humor:

Eternal life didn’t make a person anything besides old. The real value lay in what you did with all that time. As far as he could tell, most immortals wasted that opportunity on internal politics and fashion crimes.The Dark Forgotten (3 Book Series) by Sharon Ashwood

On the other hand, the characters could have used more fleshing-out, as could the relationship between the leads. Holly and Alessandro initially meet and establish a friendship offscreen, before Ravenous begins, so we don’t get to see the formation of that bond. Instead, most of the development is sexual. One terrific exception is the scene where Holly calls Alessandro for comfort after dispatching a human-sized mouse, and he comes to her rescue even though he thinks she means a garden-variety rodent. This is one moment when the emotional connection between the characters really comes through. I’d have loved to see more moments like that. In addition, everything seems to fall into place a little too easily at the end.

Also disappointing is… [Spoiler: highlight it if you want to see it]… the revelation of the bad guy who orchestrated the demon summoning. This character, who had previously appeared complex, reveals himself as a one-note zealot willing to sacrifice anyone for his cause. He’s much more interesting, though, as he first appears — a well-meaning but weak man who lets his fears get the better of him.

Published in 2009. One kiss is all it takes to lose your soul… Holly Carver is a small-time witch who busts ghosts for tuition money, but ends up wrangling a demon when a haunted house job goes bad. Her Undead business associate, Alessandro Caravelli, suspects the demon is somebody’s not-so-secret weapon. The supernatural community is at war, and Holly’s unpredictable magic holds the key to hell’s doorway. Soon Holly is on everyone’s “must have” list, and not in a good way. Alessandro wants her for more than magic. A lover with six centuries of experience, the vampire is walking seduction, but he’s also a predator. Every moment he spends guarding Holly, every second he spends falling under her witch’s spell, he becomes more and more of a threat himself. As Holly’s sharp-tongued grandma warns her: vampires are like a box of rich chocolate—they seem so tempting, but over-indulgence is a killer…


  • Kelly Lasiter

    KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.