I received this book for free from the Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Witch and the Vampire by Francesca Flores
Narrator: Bailey Carr, Mary Helen Gallucci
Published by Dreamscape Media LLC, Wednesday Books on March 21, 2023
Genres: Young Adult Fiction / Fantasy / Dark Fantasy
Length: 10 hours 21 minutes
Format: ARC, Audiobook
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Francesca Flores's The Witch and the Vampire is a queer Rapunzel retelling where a witch and a vampire who trust no one but themselves must journey together through a cursed forest with danger at every turn.
Ava and Kaye used to be best friends. Until one night two years ago, vampires broke through the magical barrier protecting their town, and in the ensuing attack, Kaye’s mother was killed, and Ava was turned into a vampire. Since then, Ava has been trapped in her house. Her mother Eugenia needs her: Ava still has her witch powers, and Eugenia must take them in order to hide that she's a vampire as well. Desperate to escape her confinement and stop her mother's plans to destroy the town, Ava must break out, flee to the forest, and seek help from the vampires who live there. When there is another attack, she sees her opportunity and escapes.
Kaye, now at the end of her training as a Flame witch, is ready to fulfill her duty of killing any vampires that threaten the town, including Ava. On the night that Ava escapes, Kaye follows her and convinces her to travel together into the forest, while secretly planning to turn her in. Ava agrees, hoping to rekindle their old friendship, and the romantic feelings she'd started to have for Kaye before that terrible night.
But with monstrous trees that devour humans whole, vampires who attack from above, and Ava’s stepfather tracking her, the woods are full of danger. As they travel deeper into the forest, Kaye questions everything she thought she knew. The two are each other's greatest threat—and also their only hope, if they want to make it through the forest unscathed.
This was just okay for me. Ava was turned into a vampire by her mother who keeps her locked in her room, stealing her magic whenever she can. Kaye lost her mother on the same night that Ava became a vampire and blames Ava for her death. Ava turns to Kaye for help when trying to escape her home and Kaye ends up learning that not all vampires are evil.
Unfortunately, I never was completely invested in this story. Even when things were going horribly wrong for the characters, I just didn’t feel a whole lot for them. I was quite curious about how things would work out for the characters. It was a nice enough tale but ultimately rather forgettable.
I listened to the audiobook and thought that the narrators did a good job with the story. I believe that this is the first time that I have listened to Bailey Carr’s and Mary Helen Gallucci’s narration and I was impressed by their work. I believe that their narration only improved my reading experience.
I think that a lot of readers will enjoy this one more than I did. I would encourage anyone who thinks the story sounds interesting to give it a try.
I received a review copy of this book from Wednesday Books and Dreamscape Media.
I received this book for free from the Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Smolder by Laurell K. Hamilton
Narrator: Kimberly Alexis
Series: Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #29
Published by Berkley Publishing Group, Penguin Random House Audio on March 21, 2023
Genres: Fiction / Fantasy / Paranormal
Length: 11 hours 13 minutes
Format: ARC, Audiobook
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Vampire hunter Anita Blake is no stranger to killing monsters. It’s part of her job as a Preternatural U.S. Marshal, after all. But even her experience isn’t enough to stop something that is bent on destroying everything—and everyone—she loves.
Anita Blake is engaged to Jean-Claude, the new vampire king of America. Humans think she’s gone over to the side of the monsters. The vampires fear that their new king has fallen under the spell of the most powerful necromancer in a thousand years.
In the midst of wedding preparations—including getting Edward, aka U.S. Marshal Ted Forrester, fitted as best man—Anita gets a call that the local police need her expertise at a brutal murder scene linked to a nationwide slaughter of vampires and humans, dubbed the Sunshine Murders.
But there is more than just a murderer to catch: an ancient evil has arrived in St. Louis to challenge Jean-Claude for his crown, his life, Anita, and all they hold dear. Even with Jean-Claude’s new powers as king and Anita’s necromancy, it isn’t enough; they must embrace their triumvirate or allow primeval darkness to spread across the country, possessing first the vampires and then the humans. Evil will triumph unless Jean-Claude and Anita can prove that love conquers all.
Do you know how some people want to talk things to death? Nothing ever seems to get done because they spend all of their time just talking about what they might do without really doing anything.
That is this book. So much talk. So little anything else.
I have been reading this series for a very long time. This is the 29th book in the series and I might have missed 2 or 3 books over the years but I have read close to all of them. I have loved some of the books and have been less enthusiastic about others. I can’t seem to completely give up on Anita and the gang so I keep coming back. I have to say that this is a book that could probably be skipped. It felt like this book was setting up the next book in the series more than anything else.
I was pretty hopeful when the book opened with a scene involving Edward. I tend to enjoy the books when he plays a part but he didn’t have much of a role in the story. I was also excited when a character that I have loved for a long time showed up after a long absence. But there was so much talking. And I needed at least a bit of something else.
I listened to the audiobook and thought that Kimberly Alexis did a great job with the narration. I have enjoyed her narration in the past so I knew that the audiobook would be a good choice. I am not sure that I would have finished the book without her narration to get me through.
I won’t be recommending this one to others. I think that long-time fans of the series may be interested in giving this one a try but I hate to say that I found it lacking.
I received a review copy of this book from Berkley Publishing Group and Penguin Random House Audio.