Devour
by Melina Morel, fantasy (2007)
Signet, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-451-22251-0


Melina Morel is the pseudonym for an author of two historical romances prior to her urban fantasy romance debut with Signet. I can't find out which name she used when she was writing historical romances, but I have my suspicions and I think I actually enjoyed those historical romances if I am correct. Oh well, whether I am right or wrong, all I can say about this book is that, despite the nice cover and the intriguing title of this book, Devour generates the same amount of energy and excitement as one would get by taking a few sleeping pills.

This is supposed to be the first book in a series, but for a long time I have to wonder. After all, the vampire Ian Morgan is already in love with Catherine Marais, exotic werewolf-hunter, here while Catherine's colleague Paul DuJardin indulges in an affair with Julie Buchanan. Together, these four will be involved in a mission to take down the last of the villainous de Montfort werewolves, with Pierre living in America and therefore a threat to Julie unless the other three act fast.

The plot doesn't seem too bad, but the execution is just terrible. This one doesn't feel like an urban fantasy at all because the main characters spend more time wining and dining each other while cooing over the other's physical beauty or intellectual superiority that I feel as if I've accidentally gate-crashed some Mary Sue Appreciation event. The good guys are all beautiful with "exotic" names and high-brow arty-farty jobs that they seem to step out of a Judith Krantz novel. Poor Pierre is on the other hand a cartoon bad guy who snarls and growls and acts like a hairy cartoon psychopath. The story spends so much time on the characters catching up with each other and indulging in pleasant chit-chat that I don't feel any sense of urgency with regards to the threat that Pierre poses on our heroes and heroines.

The personalities of all four main players combined are flatter than a piece of paper once a steamroller has passed over it. They share the same thought bubble, no doubt the result of being cloned from the same Barbie or Ken prototype. The only remotely interesting character here is Pierre, but that's because he's the one running around acting like a cartoon villain.

It's a pity that the execution is so lifeless because I like the gradual revelation about the identity of the person Paul is basing the main character in his book about the de Montforts on. This story is not without its share of interesting ideas, but the author approaches her story as if she's writing some kind of high society fiction about aristocratic women and their jet-setting beaus. This story lacks the "tone" (language and atmosphere) of an urban fantasy story as well as the energetic pacing. Devour is so completely wrong for a romantic urban fantasy story that a part of me wonders whether the author should be writing such stories in the first place, given how her writing style fits in so poorly with the genre. Only time will tell, I suppose.

Rating: 48


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