Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Review: Descent Into Dust by Jacqueline Lepore

Descent Into Dust (Emma Andrews, Book 1)
by Jacqueline Lepore
Release Date: March 15, 2010
2010 Avon Books
Softcover Edition; 359 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-187812-1
Genre: Fiction / Paranormal / Historical / Gothic
Source: Local Library

4 / 5 Stars


Twenty-five-year-old widow Emma Andrews grew up in the shadow of her mother's madness, so when she arrives at Dulwich Manor in the midst of a mysterious plague and soon thereafter begins to see specters, her family fears fate has finally caught up with her. But one guest among them knows Emma's visions are more than a trick of the mind. Valerian Fox has hunted the great vampire lord Marius through time and across continents, and he knows Emma has a remarkable destiny. She is Dhampir - a vampire hunter.

Surrounded by those who would use her powers for their own ends, Emma does not know who to trust or what she can believe. But when her young cousin is marked for death, she must embrace the terrible inheritance that lies in her very blood to save those she loves.

My Thoughts
The idea of a vampire gothic novel brought this one to my attention, and I was intrigued by the concept.  I've been fascinated by the paranormal since learning how to read, and pretty much devoured every gothic romance / suspense book in sight as a teenager.  The combination was an irresistable draw, and I am happy to say this book met my expectations.  With plenty of action, suspense, and mystery to make the events rather intriguing and with the age-old secrets that you just can't wait to discover, I eagerly read each page from beginning to end.  With a burgeoning romance on hand as well, this book captured my attention and was very engrossing.

Descent Into Dust is your typical "vampire" novel, but engaging characters and interesting byplay gives the story a fresh take and breathes new life into what could have been a predictable story.  Emma Andrews arrives at her cousin's country home, Dulwich Manor, to visit family after the death of her husband, to find her young cousin, Henrietta, under the thrall of a man named Marius, a man whom only Emma can see properly and whom the others think is Henrietta's imaginary friend.  Soon she sees and hears other things around the Manor and in the countryside, things that make her question her sanity and her very being.  Emma soon learns some very shocking truths about her mother and her own heritage that will change her life forever, and make her realize that she is not as powerless as she thought.   And make her realize that she is definitely not insane.  The question is, will she be able to live up to the expectations now being put on her shoulders?

Emma is not your usual vampire hunter heroine considering the story is set during the Victorian Era and Emma behaves exactly like a Victorian lady would behave.  You will not see someone running around in men's clothing, shunning society, or doing some of the other things you sometimes see in other novels.  Emma continues to behave exactly like a lady would behave during this period and drinks her tea, minds her manners, gets in trouble when being alone with a man, and pleads a headache when she can't stand the company of those around her; mind you, she also does some sneaking around, and involves herself in some butt-kicking scenes, all with long skirts.  Just learning to control her powers, I love how she always seem so confused when they manifest, and doesn't always know what to do with them.   At the same time, she gives in to family duties, and forces herself to spend time with her sister embroidering baby clothing although it is not something she would rather be doing.  Spending most of her life on the outside, trying to fit in, Emma is trying to find her destiny and her path while others are continuously watching her for the signs of insanity that befell her mother before she died.  Used to making herself feel normal, Emma endures all of the vampire scenes with an abnormal calm, perhaps a result of her upbringing where any signs of emotional duress would put her under the microscope, so to speak.

I enjoyed the byplay between Emma and Sebastian, the stereotypical gay character, someone somewhat sarcastic and catty and a bit of a dandy, a character I adored although I am tired of the stereotyping, as well as between Emma and Valerian Fox, a character I found rather intriguing as he has secrets that I wish to know.  The emerging relationship between Fox and Emma is becoming interesting and I can't wait to see where the author takes it in the following books.

Although Ms. Lepore's novel is rather formulaic in that we have the gothic setting, the old Manor house with its dark, mysterious etchings, the stormy nights, the creepy characters, and things that go bump in the night, I didn't find it formulaic in the least while reading.  While there were some things to nitpick, such as the immense knowledge of vampires in the common folk, something I found interesting since I don't believe the tales took place until much later and it definitely wasn't common knowledge, they were minor and didn't really bother me too much.  I love secrets and this book had plenty of them, and plenty more to reveal in books to come. 

Descent Into Dust was a pleasant surprise and I enjoyed it very much.  I was glad to return my Gothic reading days and can't wait to read the second book in the series, Immortal With A Kiss.


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