November 5, 2010

Review: Death's Sweet Embrace by Tracey O'Hara

Death's Sweet Embrace
Author: Tracey O'Hara
Publisher: EOS
Series: Dark Brethren, Book 2
ISBN: 0061783145
Realease Date: January 25, 2011
Pre-Order Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository

*ARC generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley

For more information please visit Tracey O'Hara's website.

After thousands of years of secret conflict, humans and parahumans have reached an uneasy truce. But unspeakable evil now threatens to shatter the tenuous peace.

Teenaged shapeshifters are being slaughtered by a twisted, sadistic serial killer who rips their still-beating hearts from their paralyzed bodies. A task force must be formed to halt the madness—a union of avengers including the vampiric Aeternus, Christian Laroque and Antoinette Petrescu, as well as Kitt Jordan and Raven Matokwe, members of enemy Animalian tribes…and forbidden lovers.

A centuries-old blood feud has divided their peoples—pitting wolf against snow leopard in a battle to the death—and if their passion is discovered it will doom them both. But past hostilities must be put aside in light of the scourge that is now upon them. For the killer they seek is but the first sign of a blossoming terror rising up from their long-buried pasts: the all-consuming nightmare of The Dark Brethren.


Death’s Sweet Embrace, book 2 in the Dark Brethren series, is an action packed thrill ride filled with non-stop action, mystery and a touch of romance. Truly a unique view in the paranormal genre that shouldn't be missed.

The characters of this novel and relationships between them is masterfully written with the main cast of characters being highly developed and likable. Unlike a lot of novels where the protaganist is shown to be the lone skilled fighter, this novel is compised of a team dynamic showing a wonderful comradely between characters making this an ensemble piece with each character having their own amount of strength and fighting skill, relying either mainly on brains or braun. Together they work as a team and are constantly protecting each other from both emotional and physical harm, a devotion that only endears them to the reader more.

On the other hand, O’Hara also brought to life a cast of villains that are so despicable that you can’t help but hate them. They ooze evil, disdain and malice through every word, especially Gideon. The portrayal of his homicidal psychosis as a serial killer truly ensnared me and I was constantly hoping for yet another glimpse into his twisted psyche and the man he was beneath all the insanity.

There are also a lot of moments of insight into the characters as the point of view shifts; these shifts are fairly sparse but no less well done. In truth, I greatly appreciated these glimpses that we receive into the other characters minds as it gave a more fleshed out appeal to the characters showing us not only the main character Kitt's perceived impressions about those around her but the truth as to their true motivations and desires. It also lends itself to remind the reader that this is about a group of characters, not solely Kitt though she is the one that we tend to follow the most.

The relationships of the story are also well developed. Not only are the romantically charged relationships engrossing, but the complicated dynamics between characters as well; for instance, the complicated relationship between Kitt and her family and the strain within the family itself. Her father has the outward appearance of disliking his daughter, possibly even hating her, but we come to find that this fa├žade is only to protect her and allow her the right to live as she chooses. That he has always had her best interests at heart and tried to give her the space and freedom that she has always desired. Also, I adored the relationship between Oberon and Kitt, a brotherly devotion and friendship that is deep seeded and quite special. He protects her and her daughters fiercely, not afraid to take on the entire Jordan Pride if need be to protect her from threat or violence. It's a rare relationship that I thoroughly enjoyed seeing as it had no romantic hang-ups at all, just simple honest to goodness love between characters. However, the romantic relationship between Kitt and Raven was admittedly the most engrossing for me. It's the forbidden romance between the two, always simmering in the background throughout the entire novel, that kept me reading and hoping to see the two truly connect. The history of the two is complex and appealing and the addition of Seph and Cal, their daughters, was moving. I enjoyed the dynamic of Kitt getting to know them and the poignancy of the hurt that she was not able to witness them as they grew up. Yet, despite the hurt she feels there is a warmth to the tone of the story as Kitt gets to become familiar with the young adults that they have grown into that is truly heart warming.

The world of the Dark Brethren is likewise three dimensional and diverse, filled with all sorts of supernatural creatures called Parahumans, each with their own history and society. Though we are only briefly indoctrinated into these societies I was no less impressed by the complexity of them. And while there is a lot to catch up on for first time readers such as myself like the terms used for these creatures and the existing history between characters, I couldn't help but be awed by the vividness of the world. From the dark alleys to the Bunker used by the NYAPS security team everything is described succinctly yet vibrantly, often times bordering on being quite graphic especially during the autopsies at the morgue. Yet this only lent itself to authenticate the reality that O'Hara built.

Written with a unique voice, the pace of the novel flows smoothly between the action and slower moments within keeping the reader interested and driven to continue. There are also many interesting concepts broached to intrigue the reader, such as Shadow Combat-a game filled with equal parts violence and magic- and the lore of the Dark Brethren and the significance they have to the history of the Parahumans. There are also ample surprise twists and turns with well written action sequences that aren’t glossed over, but wonderfully portrayed. In fact, the action is as much a part of the story as the romance and you can expect no punches to be pulled in either respect.

Overall, this was a highly enjoyable read that I recommend to any fan of the paranormal genre. Be sure to also check out the first novel in the Dark Brethren series, Night’s Cold Kiss and the short story Dante Rising: The Birth of a Venator.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Scars

Advisory: Some sexual content and graphic violence


Crystal @ RBtWBC said...

Great review! I was kinda iffy on the first book but am looking forward to this one.

Wenj said...

Thank you! :) I never got to read the first one, so I felt like I was missing things sometimes coming in on book 2, but I really enjoyed reading it regardless.