The Taste of Night by Vicki Pettersson
The Taste of Night begins a few months after The Scent of Shadows ended, at a charity date auction where Joanna, masquerading as Olivia, meets a man who gloats that he’s uncovered Joanna’s secret identity. A fierce battle ensues, breaking the tenuous truce between Light and Shadow, and Joanna also meets a mysterious young Shadow initiate who may be an unlikely ally, or a secret enemy.
I’m really beginning to get a headache trying to keep track of who knows what information about Joanna’s identity. Let me see if I’ve got this straight: The Shadows know the Archer is Joanna, but most of them don’t know she’s going around as Olivia now. Meanwhile, the heroes of Light know the Olivia identity, but most of them don’t realize it’s really Joanna. (Despite the fact that the comics call her Joanna.) I can’t believe any superhero or supervillain worth his or her salt could miss these connections. It seems way too obvious. As poignant as the Joanna-as-Olivia plotline was in The Scent of Shadows, it may be time for Joanna to take on a new persona now, because it suspends disbelief to the breaking point that Joanna’s identity continues to be a “secret.”
Anyway, Joanna’s new Shadow acquaintance tips Joanna off to a diabolical plot being hatched by the villains, but Joanna can’t figure out how to tell her own troop about it without revealing her illicit battle or her even-more-illicit chat with the Shadow agent.
I began to lose a lot of sympathy for Joanna in this book. Her silence was costly, and her single-minded obsession with her rapist, Joaquin, caused her to lose both common sense and any team spirit she might have had. (“We might have needed you!” complains Warren when Joanna dropped off the radar for a while. “I was safe,” is Joanna’s only response. Not a thought for anyone else.) She always had an acid tongue, and it gets worse here. I cheered Tekla when she told Joanna not to use her Shadow side as an excuse to be a jerk. Throughout The Taste of Night, Joanna shows an selfish, immature streak a mile wide. Hunter, too, displays behavior more appropriate to a high school student than to a grown man.
Might I also add that getting the “aureole” is starting to seem too easy? It was presented in The Scent of Shadows as an unusual event. Now it seems like Joanna gets it way too often.
Hopefully, the unsympathetic Joanna is on her way out and a newer, more mature one in the making. The events at the end of the novel show that she is beginning to consider her actions a bit more, to think of others, and to embrace goals other than revenge. I’ll be waiting for the third book, The Touch of Twilight, and hoping.
Vicki Pettersson had one of the best ideas for a paranormal storyline that I have read recently. She really came up with a great idea. It’s interesting and she has good supporting cast and good villains.
So, why two stars? The writing of the main character, Joanna Archer, is just pathetic. By the time that I was drug through one too many iterations of her moaning and moping for the “love of her life,” I just couldn’t stand it any longer. This may be good stuff for romance novel readers, and if that works for you, then you may enjoy this series. I just can’t stand seeing someone who is so strong and definite about why she can’t be controlled by anything continually mope over some guy who she hasn’t seen in years and then suddenly be in flames over him after a brief visit. It’s weak-minded drivel that belittles the intellect of an otherwise tolerable main character.
Sign of the Zodiac — (2007-2011) Publisher: When she was sixteen, Joanna Archer was brutally assaulted and left to die in the Nevada desert. By rights, she should be dead. Now a photographer by day, she prowls a different Las Vegas after sunset — a grim, secret Sin City where Light battles Shadow — seeking answers to whom or what she really is… and revenge for the horrors she was forced to endure. But the nightmare is just beginning — for the demons are hunting Joanna, and the powerful shadows want her for their own…