After the events of 9/11 the world got another shock, when the previously hidden supernatural creatures slowly started to step out out of the closet and help support the survivors, rescuers and the families of the victims. The American 'Others' went on to donate millions of dollars to stabilise the global market and pull the country out of recession. Not surprisingly they received a great deal of adoration and support, so the Others around the rest of the world also came out of hiding. Today most places in the world treat Others more or less as people, with human rights and laws protecting them too.
Shiarra Waynest works as a private detective and owns her own agency in New York, where her business is in danger of going under. She doesn't like the Others and tries to avoid them, refusing to work any cases for them usually. But, as she desperately needs the money, Shiarra reluctantly agrees to work a case for a local mage coven. All they want her to do is find a statue for them, but to get to the statue she has to get close to a powerful master vampire called Alec Royce, as the mages think he is the one in possession of said statue. Getting up close to a vampire doesn't sound like a great idea, but when the already generous pay packet is doubled and protective 'equipment' is offered to her, Shiarra can't back out.
What is the big deal abut a statue and why does one group of Others want to take it from a different group? These are questions that she should have thought long and hard about before agreeing, but it's too late to back out now...
But not only is Shiarra stuck in between the mages and vampires; a violent anti-Other group called The White Hats start to pay attention to her due to her new-found Others connections. So now she has to worry about if they want her help, or do they view her as a traitor and just want her out of the way?
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
Amazon kept recommending HUNTED BY THE OTHERS to me and after getting a gift-card for Christmas I got the Kindle version [it is cheaper then the paperback - under £3]. After seeing all of the 5 and 4 star reviews for the series, I thought it was a safe bet, so I bought the first sequel too. Was that a mistake? Let's find out.
Since Shiarra works as a private detective and owns her own agency, I expected her to be observant and intelligent, but she often comes off as a bit of an idiot; e.g. For her first meeting with entrepreneur Royce her proposed cover story [which she refers to as a stroke of genius] is pretending to be a reporter or restaurant guide reviewer. Luckily for her, her business partner points out that Royce owns multiple restaurants and clubs and has a large staff who would handle media.
Speaking of Royce, he is a high profile 'celebrity' vampire and in the book Shiarra refers to when:
A) someone tried to stake him at one of his public appearances in one of his restaurants.
B) he launched a high profile lawsuit with a well known beverage company, as they discriminated against his staff.
But, despite mentioning these hot news stories with readers, she still doesn't recognise the man when she meets him in person.
However, the number one standout moment, over the many other instances, is that she fails to recognize a man who had previously broke into her apartment and held her at knife point. Being so sharp eyed and a quick-thinker, it was a huge surprise to learn that her business is failing.
At one point she worries about what to say to someone, as she doesn't want to sound like an unenlightened raciest. But the thing is, in this alternate world she IS an unenlightened raciest, so the book is actually quite unpleasant to read at times as it's all too easy to put every slur she uses [spark for mages and leech for vampires] into real-world context. And as the book is in first person, readers also have to sit through her thoughts too.
Her biggest hatred/fear is mainly reserved for the vampires, which I just don't understand. It's the mages who drag her into the mess in the first place and she already has had some unpleasant dealings with werewolves, so I can sort of understand why she isn't so fond of their races. However she has had no prior dealings or experiences with vampires to cause her prejudgement. In fact there isn't anything in the book to suggest that she has even been within ten feet of a vampire before. How come the author wants us to think of vampires as evil? She not giving us anything to allow us to see and/or support her/Shiarra's point of view. Readers have witnessed plenty of Shiarra's dumber moments, so I'm not going to just accept her word for anything.
And Shiarra doesn't even know anything about vampires in general, as evidenced by a scene where she reads a email from Royce - it was sent during the day and she wonders how he sent it, as she thought vampires slept during the day. If vampires are a reality in her world, why does she only know 'movie rules' about them and no hard facts?
Royce is the vampire she is dealing with and he only pays specific attention to her AFTER she initiates contact with him [for their first meeting she wears a crucifix necklace and insultingly displays it in full view]. Until he learns about her involvement with the mages and White Hats, he seems very helpful and polite towards her - to the point of applying for a extermination of another vampire on her behalf. Again; the author is not doing a good job of showing me the evilness of vampires. I'm just left feeling very sorry for him, as he seems nice and is being treated like crap by Shiarra.
Shiarra's dumb moments and general bigotry serves to make me pro-vampire, and makes me hope that she does get bitten before the book is over.
Anyway, to sum up Shiarra; Super Detective Versus The Wicked Vampires...
A) Despite knowing that her target is a high profile vampire, we've learnt that she doesn't recognize Royce in person, despite referring to major news articles she's seen about him.
B) doesn't bother finding the answers to basic information on the vampires of her world.
Vampires: 1 point. Shiarra: 0 points.
Not only do I dislike Shiarra, but there is the problem of Chaz - her ex-boyfriend. He is also a werewolf, which means that he is the standard alpha male prototype, so I've taken an instant dislike to him. He's so possessive,at so that must mean that he is a secret romantic... Wait, what?! It comes of more like she's a toy that he won't let anyone else touch.
There's nothing much else to say about him, he's just the basic cookie cutter standard - he manages to be both irritating and boring - to me, anyway.
I just knew this would pop up; multiple love interests. Not only is this a angle that bores the hell out of me, and can be a irritant if the heroine picks someone I don't care for, but in this book I just don't get why anyone would want Shiarra; just what do they see in a often brainless bigot? Both of the romantic interests are Others, so I really don't understand why they are attracted to her.
My main grievances are with the heroine [and Chaz], but the other secondary characters are much more appealing; Shiarra's business partner Sara, mage Arnold [who offers to act as a security guard to Shiarra] and poor old Royce. It's a shame, the author has some solid secondary characters, so who knows why she picked the worst one to lead the way - maybe she's seeing Shiarra as feisty and self reliant?
The plot itself is fast-paced and entertaining, mixing drama, horror, action, the odd bit of humour and mystery together successfully, for the most part. The plot isn't anything we haven't read before [think a mix of Jim Butcher and Illona Andrews], but it should be a fun, quick read, so it's a shame that it has a heroine who I would actually like to see fail.
Let's just hope that the sequel [Taken By The Others] shows a different side to Shiarra, otherwise these books will be deleted during my next Kindle clean-up.
Hunted by the Others is about a private detective called Shiarra Waynest who's ailing finances force her to accept a lucrative case that could save her company, that's if it doesn't kill her first! She's hired by a mage to recover an ancient artifact currently possessed by one of New York's more powerful vampires.
The case becomes more complicated when she meets Alex Royce, the sexy, mesmerizing vampire. Shiarra becomes the centre of a tug-of-war and needs back-up... In comes the ex-boyfriend - a werewolf - and a nerdy mage with surprising talents, but the help may not be enough in this battle between good and evil.
I came across 'Hunted by the Others' by Jess Haines while reading a review of the book on a book blog around the time the book was being published. I read a bit of urban fantasy, though I do find it's got to take my fancy, but I liked the sound of this book and duly ordered a copy from The Book Depository. I finally got around to starting it on a Sunday evening and I'd already finished it just two days later... It's rare that I finish anything that quickly, but I found the book compelling and just had to keep reading.
There's rarely a dull moment in this book and the end of each chapter had me turning the page for the next. The book is written from Shiarra's perspective, so we get to read her inner thoughts on the oh-so-charming vampire Royce, Chaz (her ex-boyfriend who happens to be a werewolf) and other people around her. I found it easy to sympathise and connect with Shiarra - she's a human who's desperate for money to pay off the ever-increasing bills (we've all been there, right?) and as much as she doesn't want to take on this case, she doesn't have much of a choice. She's frightened of dealing with the 'Others' and I would be too! Shiarra finds herself getting deeper and deeper and can see no way out of it (that doesn't end with her or her family/friends coming to harm).
I found myself pulled in and immersed in the story, compelled to turn the pages and read on. The story was fast paced, with action and tension, and even some humour. Over all, 'Hunted by the Others' was an enjoyable read and I'd definitely recommend it!
I'm looking forward to meeting Shiarra and co' in the next book (Yes, 'Hunted by the Others' is just the first in the series). 'Taken by the Others' is due for release in January 2011 and I can't wait, having already read the teaser at the end of 'Hunted by the Others'!