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The Vampire’s Concubine, by Kallysten

April 15, 2010

The Vampire’s Concubine is produced by a small epress called Alinar Publishing. Like many small press ebook companies, it’s difficult to tell initially if a book is self-published under an author-created imprint or published by a small press. In this case, given the range of other authors involved, I’m going to go with small press.

I selected this book because right or wrong, I’m pretty much a sucker for any book with the word “concubine” in the title. (You thought I was going to say “vampire” didn’t you?) The premise of this particular book intrigued me enough to pick it up.

Book Description from Alinar Publishing:

Meriel has no desire to attend Master Aidan’s party. She doesn’t want to play the game of seduction for which her sire groomed her. She can’t imagine binding herself for ten years as his concubine. Despite her lack of efforts and to her dismayed surprise, Aidan chooses her. She is just as surprised to realize he knows what other mission her sire gave her – to kill him.

Her first day with Aidan, however, reveals a reality much different from the servitude she expected. Free to say no to him, she finds that she just might not want to. Nonetheless, saying no to her sire could be more difficult…

I’m also a sucker for the trope where either the heroine or hero has been sent to kill the other, but then they want to boink each other too much. I know. I know. But I really like it, and we all have our quirks.

Because I like to end a review on a good note, I’ll mention the bad first:

1. There are some editing issues with this book. This can happen a lot with indie and small press books. Yes, a lot of editing crap slips into NY published books sometimes, but often books put out by unknown presses get painted with a bad brush for bad editing. And fair or not, it is what it is. The issues aren’t sweeping and constant, but they are there. With a less engaging book they may have been more obvious and annoying, but the author’s story was able to sweep me away enough that they weren’t to the point of high level aggravation.

2. Too short. Normally I’m a fan of short work and I don’t get all upset that a novella isn’t a novel. However, a story needs to be however long it needs to be to fully tell that story. The plot’s setup isn’t played out super effectively in the length of time available. These characters only have a day or two together for the full plot to play out. It’s just not enough time.

The book is 15,000. 25,000 to 30,000 would have given room for more development.

The heroine seems upset at first with the idea of being his concubine, but almost as soon as they’re behind closed doors together, you would think she’d been competing on purpose for the title.

I would have liked to have seen the tension strengthened between these too and him to work a little harder to gain her trust. The author had an opportunity to show some good angst and drag readers deeper into the story, but by dealing with everything on a rather surface level and moving through the motions and skipping many necessary character reactions, I feel a little shortchanged as a reader.

3. The cover leaves something to be desired. Though this doesn’t affect the content of the book itself, it does potentially lower readership of it. Some readers are very discerning about covers. Some are not. The fonts are a little loud on the cover and look like they were just pasted on, and the picture . . . ick. Let’s put it this way, if the cover alone had to sell this book I’m not sure I would have bought it… well except for the “concubine” in the title part. That might have still sold me, but I’m not sure most readers are operating on the “Yay, concubines” aspect of book purchasing.

Now the good points:

1. The characters are engaging and likable. You want them to be together. Some books seem to thrive on finding the two most unlikable people on the planet and then thrusting them together. Not this one.

2. The characters have great chemistry. They play well off one another.

3. The dialogue is great. So often dialogue is one of the things that sticks out like a sore thumb in a book that isn’t at a near perfect technical level. It comes out wooden and stilted, but the dialogue in The Vampire’s Concubine was very smart and snappy.

4. The writing itself is engaging and clever. I wasn’t bored once during this book and read it all in one sitting.

5. The book is priced at $1.99. A good low price point for an ebook, especially a novella, is always a win with me. Because when I’m only paying $1.99 there is a lot more things I’ll overlook and still be able to enjoy the book. My perception of this book might have been lower if I’d had to spend more money because the more you spend, the more perfect you expect things to be. Or at least that’s how I operate.

While I love it when an indie or small press book can be at the exact same technical and story level as a NY pubbed book, I think lower price point can make imperfect books more acceptable and enjoyable. In much the same way that you don’t expect Broadway out of a community theater production, but then you didn’t pay a Broadway ticket price either.

Overall I give this book 2 and a half cookies. I didn’t like it enough for 3 because the editing issues and the rushed pacing were big enough issues to in many ways undermine the rest of the book. However, I did like it and would even read it again, something fairly rare for me. I think it’s worth checking out as long as readers are able to see past the bad points mentioned above and can appreciate it for the latter. The book had the potential to be 3 or 4 cookies without those issues getting in the way. I’d be willing to try more by this author and am interested to see how she grows in future books.

This book can be purchased at the Amazon Kindle Store.

The book can also be purchased in HTML or PDF format direct from Alinar Publishing.

FTC disclosure: This book was purchased by me.


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