By Barb Hendee.
Elisha Clevon is part of a very small family of vampires. And they're losing their lives.
The book waits until the middle of the story (and switches from first to third person) to explain the back history of the characters. I'm not sure why, since I found the back stories compelling enough to start out with, really. In order to explain the book, I'm going to mention those backstories earlier than the plot does.
Elisha starts out as a serving girl to Lord William and Lady Katherine. Their son and heir, Julian, isn't around much, but he gives everyone the willies. Lord William gets a case of dementia/Alzheimer's, and Elisha becomes his constant caregiver. Katherine is bothered as hell by this, and keeps hounding Julian to do something to cure his father. Eventually Julian--who of course is a vampire--caves in and vamps his dad. Not only does that not cure his dad, he's now made a half-senile man who can't even feed properly immortal. Julian's idea to deal with this is to vamp Elisha, BARELY vaguely explain a few details of that, and then shove her and his dad onto a boat headed for the new world. Thankfully for Elisha, Julian did bother to tell another member of the vampire family, Edward, to meet their ship and show Elisha the ropes.
So for a hundred-plus years, Elisha's spent her time taking care of William and either living with or near-ish to Edward. And all goes well until the night Edward just flat out loses his damn mind and becomes suicidal and does enough shit to force people to call the cops..and then Edward runs outside and burns in fire. Elisha's first knocked the hell out by the psychic vampire whammy of picking up Edward's memories as he dies...but oddly enough, so does one of the cops at the scene. Elisha's forced to hide in a hole during the day, but when she wakes up, the cops have been through the place, and seen her car, and she knows she and William have to run. Finding the address of another vampire family member she's only met once, Maggie, she flees to Seattle for help.
Maggie and Elisha hit it off as friends/family members, and Maggie teaches Elisha how she hunts for food. See, in this family you always have to kill your prey (as far as Elisha's been told), so Elisha usually sticks to feeding on jerks. Her special gift as a vampire is amplifying the feeling of helplessness and needing to be taken care of, so she offs anyone who wants to take advantage of that. Then the cops track her to Seattle and one of them kills again...leading Elisha alone and forming an odd bond with the psychic cop. Left at loose ends with a killer on the loose, what's a girl to do?
This is an interesting coming of age novel. Even though Elisha's like 180+ years old or something like that, she's led a pretty sheltered existence and doesn't even know the extent of vampirism or if any other vampires exist in the world. She ponders who can be her ally under her new circumstances. And after she starts coming into her psychic powers with the help of her new friends, she becomes a target for her crazy-ass sire. How's she going to handle that?
The story feels like it's just winding up, but you do feel Elisha's plight and her development. Oddly enough, I actually liked the third person flashback scenes even better than the first person narration, and that's not normally something I say. I do think they could have been integrated into the book a little sooner/more often than being chunked in mostly one spot, but the story gets more developed as time goes on. Elisha's not an outstanding personality, but she's a thoughtful one and working on coming into her own. And while a lot of the way vampires operate is pretty typical for most fantasy stories these days, the very small world these characters come from (heck, there were only 8 vampires in the original family) makes it different because at this point, the survivors have no idea if they're alone in the world or what. I think the story to come might have potential there. I'm giving this three and a half stars.