Review: Close To Dark
by Lisa Hodorovych
Author of "The Disappearance" out February, 2022
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*This review first appeared in September of 2021, and is reposted with permission.
I have always loved vampires! I remember watching The Lost Boys at a very young age (maybe anywhere around five to seven years old) and being absolutely fascinated by it. From there, my obsession with vampires grew: Dracula (book and movies), dressing up like one for Halloween, believing I am one because my incisor teeth stick out a little more than the rest, and, lastly, working on my own vampire story.
When I first met Jan M. Alexander at a writer’s event, I found out her first book had a vampire character in it, so I decided that I must own it and read it. I’m so glad I did because I found my new favorite book in Close to Dark!
What is Close to Dark About?
Alida is not your typical young woman. She’s a vampire, but she’s not your typical vampire either. She’s a vampire and an angel with her mother being a healing angel and her father being one of the oldest vampires in the world. The thing is, she has never met her father…not until her mother (Ariel) disappears. When she does, Alida is completely lost. She goes to her friend, Teddy, for help, but he can’t do anything for her. He doesn’t know the ingredients for “the pink drink” – a drink her mother made her to suppress her urges to feed, especially around the new moon – and he promised Ariel to never tell Alida her true story, her true origins.
Her mother disappears the night of the new moon (“dark moon” as it was referred to in the book) and instantly, Alida feels the pain of hunger. She knows she shouldn’t “dine” on the blood of humans, but she can’t help it. From there, things get harder and weirder, but she continues to fight and search for her mother. Along the way, Alida meets two witches, Pup (real name Jeremy) and Sara; brother and sister. They aid her in finding groups that may be able to help her make the pink drink or, even better in her eyes, no longer be a vampire. However, they also don’t do anything for her except warn her of the impeding dangers that were coming.
She also meets up with a detective, Gabriel, who she fears may try to kill her if he learns the truth about her. However, it’s the complete opposite. Unfortunately, she doesn’t figure this out until after the one person she never expected to come to her aid does…her father, Kovar. But does he really help her, or does he have something else in mind for her? Read to find out!
What I Liked About Close to Dark
Main Character Gone So Soon
One of the many things I loved about Close to Dark was the fact that one of the main characters is gone within the first three pages of the story. Ariel (again, Alida’s mother) is taken away literally on page three of the book. It reminded me of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho in the fact that within the first thirty minutes or so of the movie, the person who we (the watcher) considered as the main character of the movie (the protagonist) was killed off. However, Marion Crane is still mentioned throughout the movie as her sister, her boyfriend, and a private investigator go looking for her. She’s still the main character even though she’s not in the movie anymore. It’s a gutsy move, but it worked!
Jan did almost the same thing in her debut novel. Ariel was just doing some chores with her daughter when the skies opened up and swallowed her. However, that wasn’t the last we heard or saw of Ariel. She would whisper reminders/advice to her daughter. She even appeared to Alida toward the end of the novel. She was still very much a part of the book even though she was gone. Again, it’s a risky move to do, but when it’s done right, it works!
Wonderful Descriptions Throughout
Another thing I loved about this book was Jan’s writing. The descriptions, analogies, metaphors, and similes she uses throughout were absolutely incredible. You can really see what Alida is seeing and/or feel like you’re there with her. The one note I kept on writing was, “God, her descriptions are AMAZING!”
Here are just a few examples:
1) “As she climbed higher into the late afternoon sky, her brick apartment building and Teddy’s gray building, adjacent, receded into the distance, the sidewalks and streets like white arteries around a cold, dead heart. In what seemed like minutes, they reached the East River and the Brooklyn Bridge, a spider web of suspension cables, threatening to catch them.”
2) “Gray morning light illuminated the steam above Pup and Sara’s coffee mugs, turning it into two glowing ghosts hovering in front of their bent heads.”
3) “Alida felt entombed, the dark paneled room appearing like the walls of a freshly dug grave.”
4) “Through the windows, the orb of a dark moon hung in a cluster of stars like a piece of obsidian in snow.”
5) “She felt encased in darkness as all emotion emptied from her core: happiness, boredom, anger, sadness, grief, love, loneliness, all drained away until she could feel nothing but a pulse resonating with every atom in her body.”
She also had some great vampire lore/historical background placed throughout the book. For example, “Evil has existed since the beginning of creation, and during the time of Homo erectus, The Tenebre [the main clan of vampires] are believed to have formed their first society. When these first humans waged war against each other, evil tribal leaders discovered killing as a form of control. They forced their spiritual advisers to entreat the Ancient Shadow Ones to ally with them, and aid them in renewing their armies. The Ancient Shadow Ones obliged and gave the spiritual advisers words to chant over the fallen bodies. In doing so, the dead rose up using shadow energy, and drank the blood of their enemies and their own fallen warriors.”
That is such a fascinating take on vampire history, and it just gets more interesting from there.
Life Lessons Within a Vampire Story
I also loved how Jan threw in life lessons throughout Close to Dark. It took this book from a fantastical vampire story and turned it into a book where the reader could take away some great knowledge and use it in their everyday lives. There’s one that I plan on using from now on: “Life is sometimes not what we expect. However…this is no excuse to live it poorly. We must live it utilizing our finest gifts, and live it in all of our light.”
What a strong and powerful message!
My Favorite Character - Pup
I definitely have a favorite character in this novel and it’s Pup. He’s hysterical. He’s a typical fourteen-year-old, but he’s also very mature for his age. But some of the one liners he says throughout just make you laugh out loud. Another note I kept on writing was, “Oh, Pup! You’re too much!” Like when he had to prick Alida’s finger to draw some blood for a ceremony. At first, she was totally against it, but when he explained why he needed it, she let him do it. As he was about to draw the blood, he says to her, “Don’t bite me.”
I was dying!
"Feel my pain!"
Lastly, Jan also does a fantastic job of making you feel Alida’s pain, stress, anger, and happiness. I mean there were times I was doubled over like I was feeling her pings of hunger. Seriously, Jan is an amazing writer with a bright future ahead of her. I can’t wait to read book two of this series and any other books she puts out.
In conclusion, I highly recommend this book, especially to anybody who loves fantasy novels; in particular, vampire novels. I can guarantee you will find a new favorite book and a new favorite series in Close to Dark: The Gloamkind Vampire Series. To learn more about Jan, her book(s), and where you can purchase them, please check out her website.
Policies & Disclosures:
Please note that I am not getting paid to write this review. I am just a fan and fellow author helping out another great author. ~Lisa Hodorovych
The photo featured in this post is by Lisa Hodorovych. All rights reserved.