Author: Elle Jasper
Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Urban Romance/Paranormal
Length: 316 pgs
Published: 2 November 2010
Buy: amazon.com, bn.com
Synopsis: As Savannah's most unconventional tattoo artist, Riley Poe is quite familiar with the local underground scene. She lives and works on the edge of it every day.
Now, she's about to step over the edge.
When her younger brother is taken by a sinister cult led by centuries-old vampires, Riley discovers a world of shadows and blood--and those who exist there.
Her ally is the hot-tempered vampire Eli Dupre, who is attracted both to Riley's beauty as well as her one-of-a-kind blood type. A blood type he is not alone in craving.
To save her brother from certain un-death, Riley will face dangers she's never dreamed of, ruthless bloodthirsty enemies, and an evil of endless hunger that wants to devour all in its vile grasp.
**The following review may contain SPOILERS**
My Review: Afterlight was one of those books that caught me off guard in a completely good way. I had bought the book awhile back because I loved the cover and the synopsis sounded interesting. To be quite honest, I am sort of new in the urban fantasy world and I've avoided "girls that kick ass" type series that are crawling all over the place lately. While I love strong female characters, I also enjoy my alpha males. Okay, hold that thought because I'm going to come back to it.
Once I bought Afterlight, it sat on my shelf for months. I would pick it up from time to time, read the first couple of pages, and for some reason lose interest and move on to another book. I finally got around to checking out some reviews on amazon.com and became even more reluctant to read it since there were quite a few scathing remarks. (Not that bad reviews ever stopped me from checking out a book.)
I'm glad I picked it up again and gave it my full attention. Afterlight was wickedly good for so many reasons:
1) I love the whole setting in New Orleans and the care with which author, Elle Jasper, describes the old cemeteries, architecture, etc.
2) You can tell the author did her research-- everything from gothic lifestyle & clothing, to running a tattoo parlor, to the musical selections she chose to give us readers a real connection with the main character Riley and the overall mood/tone of the novel.
3) I think what fascinated me the most about Afterlight is how Elle Jasper introduces us to the "Gullah" culture. I will be the first to admit that I never heard of the "Gullah" and I am half African American myself. At first I thought Jasper made up the term "Gullah" and that Riley's adopted family was just the author finding a unique way of putting a fresh spin on witch mythology. But as I continued to read and became swept away with the language of Riley's beloved Preacher man and his wife Estelle, it dawned on me that "Gullah" culture is real. Once I figured that out, I was pretty much hooked. I know this shouldn't be about race or skin color, but there is something fascinating about a gothic white girl who is basically adopted by the ebony skinned "Gullah" witch doctor Preacher man, and falls in love with a 19th century vampire named Eli. Anthropology has always been a love of mine, so the fusion of these different subcultures and culture were intriguing.
4) Now for the "strong female vs. the alpha male" situation I mentioned earlier. Many times you have either a submissive female with a completely dominate alpha male hero that takes control. Other times you have books that say the female heroine is strong and can completely take care of herself but once you start reading, you realize she is just as submissive as the others. I guess what I am trying to say is, it's hard to find an author that truly commits to making their female lead character strong and independent. Or maybe I should say they have a hard time finding the perfect balance. In my opinion, Jasper hit the nail on the head with Riley and Eli. It was easy to convince me that Riley was a strong willed, sassy, modern woman before Eli came into the picture. After all, this girl somehow found the strength to beat addiction, find her self-worth and confidence after being in abusive relationships, put herself through college, opened up her own business which became quite successful, and most importantly, is in the process of raising and providing for her younger brother. What completely sold me was Riley and Eli's interactions with each other. Instead of Riley folding under Eli's dominate personality, she continued to prove that she was smart, capable, and can really kick some ass. I understand Eli's issues and why he is such an alpha--he is a 19th century vampire after all. But more then that, while he respects and admires her fighting abilities when battling her own species, he has his doubts about her being able to defend herself against vampires. He knows that deep down she is just a fragile human that does not have the strength or speed to go up against such a threat. Completely understandable in my book. Overall, I think Jasper does a great job proving that Riley is a tough chick. While she has feelings for Eli, she doesn't just turn into a submissive partner. She constantly keeps Eli on his toes.
I wanted to quickly comment on 3 remarks that I found in negative reviews that I completely disagree with. One, a reviewer said that Afterlight was too Twilightish. Umm, did they read the same book I did??? Do I see a few similarities between Afterlight and Twilight? Yes. But not in a negative way. That particular reviewer acted like this book should have been for Young Adult readers, and trust me, this is not a book for kids.
Another critic complained that the love scenes were not fully developed (meaning they weren't explicit enough). I found this interesting because I normally like things ruanchy. However, that also depends on the story and how it is written. The scenes were very hot and Jasper didn't really leave anything to the imagination. I don't feel that she left us hanging and while they could have been more explicit such as in the way the author describes certain body parts (use your imagination), I don't think it was neccessary.
Lastly, the harshest remark was from a reviewer that said Eli is a "forgettable" vampire. I couldn't disagree more. Eli is a perfect blend of old world 19th century vampire and modern day, brooding, sexy maleness with fangs. He's got the accent, the sex appeal, the alpha male tendencies without being a complete prick, and most of all, the ability to control the urge to take Riley's highly addictive blood more than any other vampire, including his own family. While we learn all these things about Eli, he also remains somewhat of a mystery which is sexy as hell. I want to know why he was in seclusion and away from his family for so many years. It didn't get explained in Afterlight, so I can only guess that it will be revealed in the 2nd or 3rd book in the series.
My only criticism is that some parts do get very repetitive. Riley constantly tells us that she is a badass. Honey, we already know that! You've proven it many times over, so you don't have to keep telling us. I also thought the ending of the book was a little weak (the battle scene was a bit anti-climatic). But that tends to happen when stories are written in 1st person. If you read the book, you'll know what I mean.
Other then those minor things, Afterlight is a solid series starter for the Dark Ink Chronicles. I look forward to checking out book 2 called Everdark.