The Dark Heroine
Published 2012 549 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
One moment can change your life forever...
For Violet Lee, a chance encounter on a darkened street draws her into a world beyond her wildest imaginings, a timeless place of vast elegance and immeasurable wealth - of beautiful mansions and lavish parties - where a decadent group of friends live for pleasure alone. A place from which there is no escape... no matter how hard Violet tries.
Yet all the riches in the world can't mask the darkness that lies beneath the gilded surface, embodied in the charismatic but dangerous Kaspar Varn. Violet and Kaspar surrender to a passion that transcends their separate worlds - but it's a passion that comes at a price…
When a young British school girl called Abigail Gibbs started publishing a vampire romance tale in serial format online via the Wattpad website she probably had no idea just how popular her writing would become. Fast forward to autumn of 2012 and her debut novel The Dark Heroine is gracing the shelves of book stores across the land, after being snapped up for a six-figure sum by Harper Collins publishers. The book’s publication, in itself an inspirational tale for self-published authors in general (and for teenaged writers in particular) has garnered plenty of hype and media publicity but what about the story…
I have to admit to being somewhat cynical these days when it comes to vampire romance novels. Nine times out of ten I feel like I’ve read the story before and maybe, after 13 years of reading vampire romances, I have read it all before – usually better the first time around. Ever since Twilight achieved global popularity the explosion of derivative vampire romances has been relentless and unstoppable – with every publisher and author looking to repeat Stephenie Meyer’s phenomenal success – but usually achieving mediocre to poor results. The inspirational spark is elusive, and virtually impossible to repeat, when books are deliberately (or cynically) written to appeal to the Twilight market. The author, regardless of age, needs a genuine enthusiasm for the subject in addition to a large dose of originality and imagination. Abigail Gibbs seems to have an abundance of all three of these qualities and The Dark Heroine is engrossing page-turner, a vampire romance that even I managed to enjoy, despite my (cynical) self.
The story follows the events that occur after seventeen year-old Violet Lee is thrown into the path of Kaspar, a vampire prince whose first act is to massacre thirty vampire hunters in front of Violet, before kidnapping her. This sets up the romantic conflict for the storyline, as well as the tone because while Kaspar maybe a prince he’s hardly a “prince amongst men”, in fact Violet sums him up succinctly in just one word – “jerk”.
There is a certain immaturity about The Dark Heroine both in terms of its characters and its writing. Violet is only seventeen, so it’s understandable that she is immature because she lacks life experience but I’m not sure what Kaspar’s excuse is. He’s 197 years-old, surely he should have some emotional maturity at that age? Regardless of his maturity he is a wilful murderer, killing for fun as well as food, and vegetarian Violet finds this regrettable but no great impediment to their having a relationship. Really? The big issues (such as vampires don’t have to kill to feed but Kaspar enjoys doing so) are left unaddressed, whilst relationship issues are resolved. To me this just highlights the immaturity of the writing.
But for all that immaturity the resulting novel is a compelling read. The huge amount of DRAMA in the storyline drives it forward at a cracking pace. Mysterious goings on and imminent peril keep both Violet and the readers guessing what will happen up to the last pages. Whilst The Dark Heroine makes an appealing read for teenaged readers who will love the story’s young protagonists it isn’t written for the Young Adult market. There is no shortage of blood, gore and sex for older readers and an abundance of relationship drama that will hook in female readers of all ages. Guaranteed.
LoveVampires Review Rating:
Find out more about the author’s work and this book at Abigail Gibbs's Wattpad page.