Thursday, January 18, 2007

'The Rest Falls Away' by Colleen Gleason

ISBN: 0451220072
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 368pp
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Price: $6.99

I have just finished reading The Rest Falls Away Colleen Gleason’s first book in The Gardella Vampire Chronicles and I am already waiting impatiently for her second book Rises The Night, which is coming out in June of this year.

Victoria Gardella Grantworth wakes from a nightmare in which she is being chased by a red-eyed man through the woods. This is not the first dream she has had like this and although she doesn’t realize it, it will soon become a reality because Victoria is the newest and one of the few female Venator’s of her family. Soon she will begin learning the traditions of the vampire hunters that have been passed down for generations.

In 19th-century London, it isn’t the easiest thing to handle when you are on the verge of your social debut. But Victoria should be able to handle finding a wealthy husband by day and staking vampires by night, right? Sure she can and along the way she will learn to hide stakes in the most unexpected places.

Victoria is trained by her Aunt Eustacia and her Aunt’s companion of many years Kritanu, who is very skilled in ancient fighting styles. Victoria also meets Maximilian Pesaro, fondly known as Max. Max is also a Venator, although not by blood. They butt heads immediately and their conversations, along with the sexual tension, go a long way in livening up the book.

Our heroine, however, has also caught the eye of the social catch of the season, the Marquess of Rockley. When Rockley, who also happens to be a childhood acquaintance, proposes Victoria, must make a choice between her destiny and the desires of her heart.

Meanwhile Lilith, Queen of the Undead, has moved to London looking for the Book of Antwartha. This ancient text from India will give her the power to raise undead armies. Victoria goes to the Silver Chalice, a neutral hang-out for the vampires and humans, to learn where the book might be. There she meets Sebastian Vioget, who graciously decides to help her but only for a fee.

Victoria is the perfect heroine. Smart, sexy, and tough while remaining vulnerable, she is the reason I love this book. Secretly I’m dying to be her, including wearing the fancy dresses and kicking undead butt. Even though Victoria is a very modern heroine for the time period, she works well with the rest of the storyline. Max is another great character, with brooding good looks and full of mystery; there is a lot in his past that I will enjoy reading about in future novels. Then there is Sebastian, but trust me you will want to read about him for yourself.

The Rest Falls Away is a good start to what I’m sure will be a great series. Being set in 19th-century England a lot of people will want to compare it in general terms to Jane Austen, I’ve already seen several reviews online claiming this to be a cross between Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Pride and Prejudice. I can see exactly where those reviews are coming from. There are some comic social scenes in this book that reminded me very much of Jane Austen given a modern twist. But in the end it is completely the creation of Colleen Gleason with twists and emotional hurtles all her own.

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