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Book Review: The Renfield Syndrome by J.A. Saare

Written by: Beth Woodward, CC2K Books Editor


I read the first book in J.A. Saare’s Rhiannon’s Law series about a year or so ago.  I thought it was a good book.  It was a fun read, it moved quickly, and I liked the characters.  But the storyline didn’t stray too far from other books I’ve seen in the genre, until a last-minute plot twist that had the potential to change the entire world and story Saare had created.  It was a hell of an ending, and needless to say I’ve been waiting anxiously for The Renfield Syndrome for quite some time.

Luckily for me, The Renfield Syndrome does not disappoint.  In this installment, Saare has taken the series in a darker, bolder direction, and the result is a book that stands out among the other urban fantasies on the market.

 

(Fair warning: this review contains spoilers for Dead, Undead, and Somewhere in Between, the first book in the series.)

The book blurb, courtesy of the Mundania Press website:

 

Vampires, and werewolves, and demons, oh my.

Rhiannon thought facing off against a deranged child vampire was the most dangerous task she would ever have to undertake, but she’s about to discover making a deal with a demon is far, far worse. Sent forward into another reality, one in which vampires are now dominating nearly extinct humans, she realizes the sooner she returns to her vampire lover, Disco, the better.

Unfortunately, time changes a lot of things, including those most trusted around her. When she’s faced with a loss and betrayal unlike any she has ever known, her focus shifts from severing the debt between the demon that wants to kill her, to exacting a revenge that will bring forth consequences she never could have fathomed. By reaching out to the darkness lingering within her, she’ll find the strength to push forward despite the circumstances that would see her dead and buried.

After all, when it’s all said and done, all that she has left to lose is her soul.

 

It’s hard to write this review without spoilers, because there are just so many twists and turns in the book that it’s almost impossible to talk about it without saying anything spoilery.  So I’ll do my best, in saying what I liked about the book without giving plot specifics.

I love that Saare took the series in a darker, bolder direction.  It’s a risk that many authors wouldn’t have taken, and it’s paid off here.  This is a more challenging book than the first.  Characters are taken in different directions than they were before.  Saare didn’t take the safe route here, and the book is all the better because of it.

I love that some of the secondary characters have been developed so much more in this book.  One in particular, Paine, gets to take center stage here.  He was already an intriguing character in the first book, a vampire who sees people’s future just by touching them; the only one immune to his ability is Rhiannon.  This time around, he gets more page time.  We get to see more of what makes him tick, more of his depth and vulnerability.  He’s an incredibly sympathetic character, and Saare takes his storyline in some unexpected directions.

I love that Saare introduced some new characters that quickly became compelling and intriguing in their own right.  There’s one especially, Carter, that I’m hoping to see in future books.

I love how flawed and imperfect these characters are.  I’ve read a lot of books where the characters never get TOO far out of line.  They might screw up, but never in ways that might be irredeemable.  This book finds several beloved characters doing things that might permanently alter the way readers feel about them.  Again, a risky choice, but one that benefits the book in the long run.

Unfortunately, there’s not much more I can say about this book without getting into spoiler territory, so I’ll end with this: if you liked the first book, the second is a must-read.  And if you haven’t picked up Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between yet, I highly recommend you do.

Author: Beth Woodward, CC2K Books Editor

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