by Susan Squires

October 2005
ISBN: 0-312-99854-6
Reviewer Graphic Button St. Martin`s Press
Mass Market Paperback

When author Susan Squires created her exciting vampire world for The Companion, readers took notice. Her premise that vampirism was a disease, a parasite passed from generation to generation, was a new approach. Her creativity in creating this world was only surpassed by the exciting plot of the novel.

I was eagerly anticipating the next book in the series, and The Hunger does not disappoint. But before you become as confused as I was - this novel is a prequel to The Companion, set four years before the initial book in the series. There is no good way to make this clear to readers, however, except to date the prologue and first chapter, which does no good if you donít have the first book handy. After I had finished a few chapters, and became more confused, I finally dug out my copy for confirmation.

That settled, I settled in to another finely crafted tale of love found in unexpected places, and of evil ambition that threatens to change the course of history.

Beatrix Lisse, Countess of Lente, has taken up residence in London. Surrounded by youthful admirers, her invitations are much sought after. It is rumored that she is a courtesan, but she is extremely discreet. She is welcomed at all but the highest level of society, and she has never been more alone. Centuries of living have become tedious, and her abstinence from passion has left her hollow. She wonders if it is time to join others of her affliction at the Mirso Monastery where they linger until the end of their days. Nothing seems to engage her interest, until she meets John Staunton, the Earl of Langley. He has secrets of his own and is annoyingly aloof.

Langley doesnít really have time to engage in a flirtation with the charming countess. However, she is strikingly different from the other women of his circle, and he is intrigued. His mission for the government keeps interfering with his social activities, and he fears that she will stop receiving him. Thwarting Napoleon is too important to cast aside for a woman, no matter how appealing she is.

The Hunger is an intriguing story, with compelling characters. There was a good deal of time-skipping as Beatrix is feeling quite nostalgic about her youth. These episodes further explain how past events have molded the present situation. After reading both books, my personal opinion is that they should have been switched. Following The Companion does this book a disservice. The plots are somewhat intertwined, and the lack of chronology is confusing. Ms. Squires has retained her fine writing style and careful attention to details in both setting and character development. It will be interesting to see what comes next.

Reviewed in September 2005 by Paula.

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