Oct 31 2011 9:30am

Fresh Meat: Chloe Neill’s Drink Deep (Nov. 1, 2011)

Drink Deep by Chole NeillChloe Neill

Drink Deep (Chicagoland Vampires, Book 5)

(NAL, $15.00, November 1, 2011)

Clouds are brewing over Cadogan House, and recently turned vampire Merit can’t tell if this is the darkness before the dawn or the calm before the storm. With the city itself in turmoil over paranormals and the state threatening to pass a paranormal registration act, times haven’t been this precarious for vampires since they came out of the closet. If only they could lay low for a bit, and let the mortals calm down.

That’s when the waters of Lake Michigan suddenly turn pitch black-and things really start getting ugly.

Chicago’s mayor insists it’s nothing to worry about, but Merit knows only the darkest magic could have woven a spell powerful enough to change the very fabric of nature. She’ll have to turn to friends old and new to find out who’s behind this, and stop them before it’s too late for vampires and humans alike.

Have you ever missed somebody so much your world seems empty without them? Do you sometimes like to drown in the bitter-sweet misery that inevitably follows a true love, lost? Want to witness the resilience and resourcefulness of a kickass heroine who is devastated by thoughts of what might have been, but knows her immortal life must go on?

Then Merit, in Drink Deep, is just the girl for you.

It has been two months since the shocking events of Hard Bitten left Merit, her fellow Cadogan House vampires, and Chicagoland readers reeling. A prissy, dictatorial bureaucrat has taken up residence in the House, the city’s new mayor is no friend to the supernatural, and Merit finds herself an object of much interest to her new investigative partner and would-be love interest, Jonah.

Jonah had been more than happy to act as Ethan’s replacement—professionally and otherwise. The messages we’d exchanged over the last few weeks—and the hope in his eyes tonight—said he was interested in something more than just supernatural problem solving. There was no denying Jonah was handsome. Or charming. Or brilliant in a weirdly quirky way. Honestly, he could have starred in his own romantic comedy. But I wasn’t ready to even think about dating again, I didn’t think I would be any time soon.

Her heart, you see, is “otherwise engaged” and also “mostly broken.”

At night, she dreams of Ethan, but what once were pleasant experiences have turned into dark, dreadful nightmares:

I jolted awake, bathed in sweat, gasping for breath, the sound of his voice in my ears. Tears slipped from my eyes as I pushed drenched bangs from my forehead, and scrubbed my hands across my face, trying to slow the feverish race of my heart.

Yet Merit can’t hate the night terrors, because at least in her dreams, Ethan was…:

... real. I had no pictures of him, no mementoes. Even my waking memories of him were fuzzy—each recollection seemed to dull the lines of his face. It was if he were a faint star on the horizon—attempting to focus on the image only blurred it further. But in my dreams… he was always there, always clear.

Living in the house where she had shared her life with him, Ethan’s memory haunts her:

I stood in front of the double doors to his apartment for just a moment, before pressing my palm to the door and my forehead to the cool wood. God I missed him.

And for all that Ethan was – as I have previously stated – “an asshole”, we can’t help but miss him, too. Or, as Merit puts it, most succinctly:

“He was an imperialistic, self-righteous pain in the ass. But he was my pain in the ass, you know?”

For all the plentiful issues I am sad to report that I have with this book—mostly related to prominent plot points that remind one inordinately of some of the more notable and influential Urban Fantasy fiction of the past decade or so—there can be no denying that what Neill does very, very well here is the Merit-angst, as our heroine deals with the absence of the man she had considered her partner, who was her Liege, and whom we all know remains the love of her life. Ethan’s presence is palpable within these pages, even if he is physically not in attendance, and there is a feeling of utter inevitability in how events eventually play out—events that should please fans of the series, even if that pleasure is, as was mine, somewhat tempered by disillusionment.

Rachel Hyland is Editor in Chief of Geek Speak Magazine.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
Megan Frampton
2. MFrampton
@WickedLilPixie: I keep hearing the same thing, but I am so hoping you guys are all wrong and I will love it. Of course I'm gonna read all the same.
3. AshleyG
I am so ready for this book...good or bad...I just need to know what happens next.
4. ChelseaMueller
I finished this one over the weekend, and it left me really conflicted. I flew through the pages wanting answers, but then felt the resolution cheapened the journey -- too easy, too sudden.
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