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The Georgina Kincaid series created by Richelle Mead goes from strength to strength with each new book and in my opinion, the fifth book, Succubus Shadows, is definitely the best one of the series to date.
Richelle Mead is an American writer of fantasy who, is one of the best currently writing in this sub-genre. She has created an exceptionally original heroine in Georgina Kincaid.
The book can be bought new from Amazon for £4.43 with free postage.
Georgina Kincaid is a succubus who doesn't know which is worse, helping to plan Seth, her ex-boyfriend's wedding to her good friend, Maddie, or dealing with the mysterious force invading her mind trying to persuade her to give up her existence on earth. She's playing host to another ex boyfriend, too, and he's a little on the volatile side. And to cap it all, there's also a new succubus visiting Seattle, supposedly on holiday, but she's making a play for Seth. One thing is for certain, as Georgina soon discovers, there are far worse places than Hell in which she could spend eternity.....
First of all, to those who may read or are currently reading this series, there may well be a couple of spoilers in here for which I apologise but it's impossible to review this novel without referring back to events in previous books.
Succubi are female entities who gain energy by draining power from human males through the sex act and you would think that making one of these creatures the heroine of a series would prove to be quite a stretch but Richelle Mead has created a wonderful lead female in Georgina. She's essentially a good person, despite now living as a lesser demon.
Georgina last lived as a human in the fifth century and became a succubus after her infidelity left her husband a broken man on the verge of suicide. Distraught at how her one mistake had driven her husband to consider ending his life, she made a contract with Hell to become a succubus on the understanding that her husband and family would forget all about her.
Hell, and Heaven for that matter, in Georgina's world are run on very bureaucratic lines and Georgina works for the demon, Jerome, who for some obscure reason, chooses to look like the actor John Cusack. Her other colleagues include two vampires, Peter and Cody, Hugh, an imp who works as a doctor and Carter, who isn't really part of Hell's team at all because he's actually an angel. Georgina herself works in a bookshop in Seattle. She's risen to manager of the bookshop and although she's very good at her job, occasionally having sexual congress with the owner surely must have helped her secure that appointment!
All this seems very implausible, I know, but somehow it works. That's the beauty of urban fantasy; the extraordinary takes place in a very ordinary setting. Of course, it's necessary to buy into this world to fully enjoy the story, something I don't have a problem doing and it helps that Richelle Mead has created such a believable environment for her immortal beings, made all the more believable because they interact with humans who, in the main, are totally unaware of the true nature of these beings.
From the first book in this series, the reader is given the underlying and very subtle impression that something other than the action in the book, is happening somewhere either in the exalted realms of Heaven or in the bowels of Hell; Something which is going to have a huge impact on Georgina's life but, like her, we simply don't know what this is or why. We just get the odd clue every so often that there is some higher purpose.
You would imagine in a book where the heroine remains alive by having sex that there would be pages and pages of sexual activity but these episodes aren't dwelt upon and, in fact, when she was with Seth, her off-again-on-again human boyfriend, she refrained from the sex act altogether because whenever she makes love with a man not only does it shorten his life considerably, it also leaves a stain on his soul. Whilst they were together, they had found a sort of workable way around this!
In actual fact, Georgina and Seth have fully enjoyed each other if you get my meaning. During a short spell when Jerome went missing and all the lesser immortals became mortal, Seth and Georgina took advantage of this brief hiatus which although leaving them both satisfied, resulted in a great deal of guilt because it happened after they'd split up and were seeing other people.
To make matters worse, there's a new succubus in town, Simone, who claims to be on holiday but Jerome suspects her of having an ulterior motive, which means that now Georgina has acquired a new housemate in the shape of Roman. Roman is a nephilim, the son of Jerome and an angel. Nephilim are almost as powerful as angels and demons and Jerome hopes that Roman, together with Georgina will be able to find out why Simone has chosen to visit Seattle. Roman and Georgina have something of a history as Georgina was responsible for the death of Roman's twin sister, something he has sworn to avenge. However, he's torn between hatred for Georgina and a deep attraction for her. Fortunately, for Georgina, the attraction bit seems to be winning at present.
Georgina is being plagued by dreams which seem to come upon her not just at night now but whenever she lets down her guard. She tries desperately to fight the seductive dreams which want her to surrender herself to this power but eventually the lure is too strong and she succumbs, only to find herself taken by the Oneroi, the children of the Nyx, a being that Georgina had played a significant part in capturing.
Once Georgina is taken by the Oneroi she is forced to endure constant dreams, some of which are untrue and some true. More than simply being true or untrue, some of the futuristic dreams are also prophetic. This makes it very difficult to separate the true from the false, especially when dreaming of the future. This part of the book gives the reader the opportunity to learn much more of Georgina's previous life and loves. Although Seth is definitely the love of her life, she has cared for several men before, which is only to be expected when you've been around for two thousand years.
By far the most troubling dream for Georgina, and one she is pretty sure is true, is that Simone has shape-shifted to look like her and is busily trying to seduce Seth and none of her friends seem to notice that this imposter is not the real Georgina!
In one of the earlier books in this series, I began to go off Georgina a bit because she seemed to have a mild personality change. However, she's back to her likeable self again in this episode. As is Seth, although because he's very much a passive, nice sort of man, he's still not that attractive to my way of thinking and it's difficult to understand why Georgina would be so in love with him, especially as he demonstrates a considerable selfish streak at times. But then I much prefer bad boys, at least in my reading matter. They are so much more interesting!
I have one little quibble about these books and that is that although Richelle Mead has created some excellent and three dimensional secondary characters, many of them are never developed further and we know no more about them in book five than we did in book one. It's as though she felt that the only characters which needed to be fully rounded with a complete back history were the two principal characters. Hell's team who work under Jerome, the arch demon, have featured in all five books of the series and I feel that if we knew more of the back stories for Jerome, Peter, Cody and Hugh, who have featured in every book in the series, it would add an extra dimension to the world that has been created here. I'm knocking one star off for not developing her secondary characters as much as she could.
I make no bones about it, I read novels to be entertained and this book certainly did that. It was a real page-turner and for anyone who has read the previous four books in the series, it will certainly whet your appetite for the next instalment. I would say that this series needs to be read from the beginning because each successive book carries on from the last and there is too much back story involved now for Richelle Mead to credibly fill in and move the story forward at the same time.
I can't wait for the next book, Succubus Revealed, which is due for publication next year. I'm hoping the clue is in the title and that the higher purpose which has been hinted at throughout all the books so far, will at last be revealed.