Saturday, July 23, 2011

Girl on Book Action: Tempter by Nancy A. Collins

Tempter by Nancy A. Collins
ISBN: 0-451-40215-4


Charlotte Calder was a beautiful, brainy Yuppie with a hunger for success.

Then she met raunchy rocker Adam Rossiter.  He satisfied a different hunger: sex that was fierce and sensationally satisfying.

But Adam had a hunger of his own.  He often dreamed of making love to a gorgeous woman...of sinking his fangs deep into her jugular...of drinking deeply.

Charlie had just the kind of blood Adam was lusting for...


My Thoughts:

You know, if the blurb accurately described this book I would have been less disappointed, but it really doesn’t.  Here’s what it’s actually about (also, enjoy me writing my own summary, it happens so rarely):

Adam Rossiter is a washed out rock star still wishing for the return of his fame and passing the time playing with mystical forces.  He moves to New Orleans and tracks down a group of voudou practitioners who initiate him into their circle.  Suddenly his luck seems to be improving – he books a gig after years of failure and ends up in bed with the very attractive priestess.

Then he finds the book and obsession begins to stir within him.  He treads a dangerous path that leads him from the priestess to Charlotte Calder, a successful young woman with a habit of picking the wrong kind of guy, without realizing that old, malicious powers are at play.  His dreams are filled with a younger Adam with red glowing eyes urging him to heed the dark stirrings in his soul.  What will his desire for fame and lust for blood, sex and power unleash?

I probably shouldn’t quit my day job, but that’s a more precise portrayal of what happens in the book.  One that wouldn’t have left me feeling vaguely annoyed, since the story isn’t actually bad, it just has very little to do with the blurb.  For example: very little vampire action, but some interactions with voudou gods and goddesses.

Honestly, going into this, I wasn’t expecting high literature, I was looking for something dark, but fluffy to read – something along the lines of Tanith Lee’s Heart-Beast – and I got what I wanted (even if the back-cover was misleading).  The story was dark and sexy.  It wove together different narrative strands with great proficiency – coming in at 300 pages (when did I start to think that 300 pages is short?  Oh right, probably around the time I started reading George R. R. Martin and Robin Hobb - at least there weren't any feasts in sight here, but I digress) it fits in a lot of detail and intrigue.

(Enough with the vague, introductory rambling, Doom!)

Here’s my big problem (aside from the stupid blurb) – I hated Rossiter.  He reminded me of Judas Coyne in Joe Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box, which is a bit backwards since Tempter was written in the early 90s.  I’m pretty sure that we’re supposed to dislike Rossiter and his ‘woe-is-me-I-ruined-my-own-career’ whining.  (As a bit of an aside – I wonder how many novels there are detailing the self-pitying wailing of aging rock stars longing for the return of their fame and meddling with mystical / metaphysical stuff.)  The way he treats the two women in his life was despicable.  I felt especially bad for poor little Charlie who is very much a doormat (which is to say I didn’t like her much either).  Actually, now that I’m putting all this down on the page, I didn’t like Jere (the “boring, safe” love interest and failed hero) either.  It’s a good thing that Ti Alice, Aggie and Tempter / Donatien were likeable – the fact that a guy who turns himself into a vampire through murdering children was more sympathetic than Rossiter says a lot about my feelings regarding failed rock stars.

Here’s what I did like about the book.  Collins makes sure to use the setting (New Orleans) and its history to her advantage.  It’s a story about the place and its past more so than it is about Rossiter / Jere / Charlie.  The back-story about the mansion Seraphine and the Legendre family held my interest throughout (which might be a product of my love of period pieces).  I appreciated how the past was still very much involved with the present through Aggie and Ti Alice and their struggle with Tempter.  I also liked the use of voudou in the story – I’ll be the first to admit that most of what I’ve read about voodoo practices comes in the shape of early Anita Blake novels so seeing it from a different perspective was interesting.  Another thing that caught my eye was the set-up of the vampires.  It’s possible, in this version of the myth, to transform yourself into a vampire, but vampires can also be made through bites.  Bitten vamps are slaves to their masters.  And the fangs become sexual organs pretty much, which ejaculate venom at climax, which, if it’s injected into the person who is being fed upon turns them.  Fascinating stuff.

Ultimately, I wish that we could have gotten a bit more about Donatien / Tempter, Ti Alice and Aggie and less about Rossiter / Charlie / Jere.  If you don’t hate aging, whiny rock stars as much as I do (and how could you?) and want to read a book set in New Orleans with voodoo and named mansions, you could do worse than pick up this book.  I’m going back on the hunt for Collins’ other vampire novels.

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