How many books have as their hero a mass-murdering sadistic psychopath? How many books have as their heroine a former HIV-positive wild child? In that respect, Shadows on the Soul is very different, with
killer vampire Gabriel the hero and new vampire Jezebel the heroine. Gabriel made Jezebel a vampire after she was gang-raped by a other vampires in a previous book, but in making his first fledgling, he set himself on an entirely new course.
Gabriel is angry with his father, Eli, leader of the Guardians (a group of vampires who don't drink human blood and who try to dispatch vampires that do). Clearly Gabriel is one of the Killers that the Guardians need to dispose of, yet Gabriel knows that his father has hardly had an innocent life. When Gabriel decides to travel to Philadelphia to kill his father and takes Jezebel with him, he finds things not exactly working out as he expected
- particularly as his mother, Camille, is in league with the evil Bartolomeo di Cesare, and a powerful born vampire, Brigitte, is also after Eli and has a special method of disabling Eli that might just work.
In the first scene of the book, we are with Gabriel as he kills a woman by drinking her blood. However, right at this first part of the story, it becomes clear there's more to Gabriel's sadistic psychopathic murdering than meets the eye. He doesn't choose his victims at random, and he has some strange other attributes, such as being unable to see children hurt without trying to get revenge on those who hurt them. As the story unfolds and Jezebel and Gabriel find themselves linked in terms of emotions -
each can feel what the other is feeling - Jezebel begins to learn more about Gabriel's true nature and whether, underneath the scary exterior, there's more to him than the others realize.
In some ways, the book cops out a little in terms of its bold start. As it becomes clear that our mass-murdering sadistic psychopath isn't those things
- that there are reasons for everything he does and that he doesn't actually like the sadism, it's just something he's been told
- we begin to discover that Gabriel is almost one of the goodies. The author continues to drip-feed us information on Eli and his history, and his apparent omnipotence and his great goodness are continuing to be chipped away. Drake, the only Killer within the Guardians, is getting disillusioned by all that he learns, and the end of this book sets him up as the hero of the next one, starting in a different city.
The bold and strong start is filtered down by the time the book ends, and our shocking hero and heroine seem significantly less shocking.
Jezebel's role in this story as the heroine is understated. She's not really a woman of action, more of emotion, and as we learn about her appalling history, it becomes apparent why she might be attracted to Gabriel - an attraction to someone who has suffered and who understands, perhaps.
The Guardians seem to forgive her for being a spy on several occasions, but overall she
comes across as a sweet, nice girl in over her head with Gabriel the monster.
The pacing of this book improves upon Secrets In The Shadows, the previous book in this series; more events take place, and much more attention
is paid to the characters, which makes the book more satisfying. This is a good read which provides some interesting food for thought, although perhaps not utilized as fully as it could have been.