I recently read Jess Haines’ book Hunted by the Others. It was released in May 2010, and is the first in her H&W Investigations series. The second book (Taken by the Others) came out in January 2011, and the third (Deceived by the Others) is due out in July 2011.
As soon as Shiarra meets sexy, mesmerizing vamp Alec Royce, she knows her assignment is even more complicated than she thought.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m a fan of vampires. I’m especially a fan of dark, brooding, mysteriously sexy, Byronic vampires who can’t decide whether they want to stalk and eat, or seduce and sleep with, humans. At least, I used to be. I spent most of my teenage years secretly fantasising about seductive creatures of the night, and then spent much of my twenties engulfed in White Wolf’s World of Darkness, enjoying vampires, werewolves and mages. And then Twilight appeared on the world stage.
Now, you can’t walk past a bookshelf or turn on the TV without being confronted by wussy, emo vampires mooning helplessly over their unrequited (or forbidden) love for a human. Don’t get me wrong – I tried a few books at first. But the majority of them aren’t so much Byronic as pathetic. And so I’ve grown to detest anything involving vampires. Once bitten, twice shy, as they say. (Pun intended.)
So I had no intention of picking of Jess Haines’ book. Until I found this Top 10 List she did for All Things Urban Fantasy. Oh. My. Gods. She chose to do a list of her Top Ten Best Bad Movies Ever, and her selections included such classics as Spaceballs, Evil Dead: Army of Darkness, and Tremors. I had seen 9 of her top 10 movies. And (here’s the bit that really got me) she was hilarious. Her descriptions of the movies had me laughing out loud in places. I fell instantly and irrevocably in love with her.
The very next morning, I was out picking up a copy of Hunted by the Others.
There are very few ideas that are “original” (whatever that means) in this novel. Most of it has been done before. Often more than once. But I can honestly say that I have NEVER seen it done so well.
Shiarra Waynest is a PI who wouldn’t normally wouldn’t accept a job from an Other (vampires, werewolves, mages, etc). But when she’s offered a job by a Mage from The Circle, an incredibly influential magical group, she doesn’t feel like she has a choice. Without a large influx of cash, she’s going to lose her PI business. The job is to get close enough to Alec Royce, an ages-old vampire, that she can steal a powerful artifact from him. But that is the simplest part of the paranormal mess that she finds herself involved in, which includes being threatened by White Hats (the anti-Other organisation) and being forced to confront and work with her lying, ex-boyfriend werewolf.
Shiarra is an absolutely fabulous protagonist. More than that, she’s a true hero. She has absolutely no way to compete physically or mentally with the Others that she comes into contact with, and she spends the majority of the book terrified that she’s in too deep, and someone is going to eat her. But she does what’s right, even when she’s scared. She isn’t one of those two-dimensional heroes who takes everything in her stride and never breaks a sweat. But she’s not whiney or pathetic, either. She is absolutely awesome.
And, for a change, Alec Royce (the vampire) is executed brilliantly. He really is mysterious, sexy, dark, dangerous, and Byronic. He’s both seductive and scary – an amazing combination. But he wasn’t even the most interesting Other in the book. My favourite was Arnold: a cute, D&D geek Mage who joins forces with Shiarra and gives her a few magic items to help her defeat the antagonist.
Did I mention that I picked up Hunted by the Others in the morning? Well, I’d finished it by that night. I couldn’t put it down. Seriously. I had to go grocery shopping, and I literally walked through the supermarket with the book in my hand, reading as I went. I walked home the same way. Take a shower? No way – I’d have to stop reading. I ran a bath instead. Cook dinner for the family? How about we order pizza.
Hunted by the Others is everything that a paranormal urban fantasy book should be, and more. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into the sequel, and I hope that Jess Haines keeps on writing the series. Love it, love it, love it.