Friday, February 4, 2011

Death's Sweet Embrace

by Tracey O'Hara
Publsihed by the HarperCollins imprint Harper Voyager

Death's Sweet Embrace, put out by the HarperCollins imprint Harper Voyager, is second in a series of urban fantasy novels from Australian author Tracey O'Hara.

This series of books takes place in a world where humans and "parahumans," shape shifting folk from wolves, dogs, lions and bears, oh my! live together in an integrated society. The immediate threat is a serial killer loose on a college campus, where we are introduced immediately to Kitt, a feline shape shifter who has been called in by Oberon, a bear shifter, to help with the investigation. Conveniently for the reader who likes their melodrama shaken, not stirred, this will also include Raven, the male hero with the sticky romantic past with Kitt, a union that resulted in the birth of twins currently attending the college.

Think two parts crime procedural, one part Thundercats. While the action is non-stop, character development runs thin and relies instead on the stock characters of the modern era -- dark, brooding alpha hero who denies his inner feelings for the main heroine (Raven), a tough warrior chick who retains her feminine mystique amidst blood and guts (Antoinette), and the womanly, healing mother of the hero's children and object of his desire (Kitt).

The serial killer fades into the background, jammed in between too many side characters and subplots, a plot device designed to bring together characters who otherwise would not be engaged in various forms of hurt/comfort interplay. Their family lives and tribal ties to Packs and Prides proves far more interesting reading than the desire to see a killer brought to justice; the book would have done better to focus on this more human aspect of family and loyalty, and the Romeo and Juliet inspired conflict between the main characters.

Should a reader become snowed in and dream of a beach book to dispel the winter blues, Death's Sweet Embrace will provide fun-filled entertainment of the action-packed variety, but do not expect more than pulp is capable of delivering.

Buy it here.

Reviewed by Martin Rose

Martin Rose lives in New Jersey, where he writes a range of fiction from the fantastic to the macabre, holds a degree in graphic design, and enjoys blurring the line between art and life. Look for his work in the anthologies Fear of the Dark from Horror Bound publications and Art From Art from Modernist Press. More details are available at

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