darkest fear

Friday, January 31, 2014 |
I think I just accidentally read my first New Adult book?  I ended the previous sentence with a question mark because I’m still unsure how to categorize Cate Tiernan’s Darkest Fear, the start of her new Birthright series.  It is a shapeshifter (paranormal) fantasy with a protagonist who is in that liminal time between high school and college. Usually I’d say that means it’s YA, but most of the other characters are older than the protagonist.  So.  I think I may have read a New Adult paranormal.  And… it was addictive reading.

darkest fear by cate tiernan book cover
Vivi’s animal instincts are her legacy—and maybe her downfall—in this start to a romantic fantasy series that will appeal to fans of The Nine Lives of Chloe King.

Vivi has known the truth about her family—and herself—since she was thirteen. But that doesn’t mean she’s accepted it. Being Haguari isn’t something she feels she’ll ever accept. How can she feel like anything but a freak knowing that it’s in her genes to turn into a jaguar?

Now eighteen, Vivi’s ready to break away from the traditions of her heritage. But all of that changes with the shocking, devastating deaths of her parents and the mysteries left behind. Vivi discovers family she never even knew she had, and a life open with possibility. New friends, new loyalties, and even romance all lay ahead—but so do dangers unlike anything Vivi ever could have imagined.

Vivi (short for Viviana) was perfectly happy being the normal, beloved daughter of a Brazilian immigrant couple on the Florida coast.  But she’s not.  Normal, that is.  Vivi is a Haguari, a member of a group of shapeshifters who turn into jaguars.  And she’s been dead set on denying that heritage from age thirteen onward.  When a terrifying attack occurs on her 18th birthday, Vivi can’t hide from what she is any longer.  Worse, she’s alone in facing the world.  In the aftermath, Vivi discovers a family connection she didn’t know about, and she takes a chance on a new life and new friends.  However, danger seems to be following her wherever she goes…

Darkest Fear was up on the Simon Pulse website as a free read this week (in case you were wondering how to hook me on a book I’ve never heard of before).  I started reading the first chapter on the strength of the words ‘shifter fantasy romance,’ and the cover art, which is pretty sweet.  From the beginning I felt like I was being towed into the story (and I went willingly!).  Tiernan is deft at writing strong emotion, and her portrayal of a scared, lonely and lost Vivi making a new life and dealing with the unknown was more than a touch mesmerizing.

That said, I experienced reader’s remorse upon finishing the book.  It’s packed with emotion throughout, yes.  However, the pace and action pick up in the second half, and by then it was too late for some of the details and world-building I wanted or for wrapping up certain plotlines.  *cough*WHAT WAS THAT ROMANCE*cough*  Actually, I have a bone to pick with the word ‘romance’ in connection with this book.  The actions/emotions having to do with the supposed romantic entanglement(s) never approached healthy, romantic, or even coherent.  I get that it’s the first in a series and the author can’t tip her hand on everything right away, but as a reader I have issues being supportive of or even excited about reading the continuation of that (whatever it was) in the next installment.

Actually, all of my confusion has to do with the second half of the book, and in particular the final episode.  Tiernan placed a completely different kind of action-movie-plot in the middle of what was a slow-moving but intense story of a girl finding herself and making peace with her heritage.  I didn’t stop reading, but I did expect an answer or two as to why that happened, and where the story would go in the future.  Unfortunately, nothing materialized.  I have reading whiplash in the worst way.

In all, Darkest Fear is an emotionally intense take on shifter mythology and tradition, but it suffers from uneven plotting and pacing and a weak/unfortunate romantic plotline.  I may try skimming book two to see if answers crop up, or I may not!

Recommended for: fans of paranormal fantasy and New Adult set in the South, and those who can’t keep their hands to themselves around shifter romance books.

Fine Print: I read a copy of this book for free on the Simon Pulse website.


Tales of Whimsy said...

I love this honest review.

Liviania said...

On one hand, I really want paranormal New Adult books. On the other, I hate books with a ton of unanswered questions. I might still give it a chance.

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