Title: Crimson Hours
Author: Susan Phelan
Publisher: Ellora's Cave Publishing
Buy Link: Buy Crimson Hours Here!
Rating: You Gotta Read
Reviewed By: Nerine Dorman
Do you believe in vampires?
Exposed in this titillating trio of distinctly different stories is the possibility that all around the world at any given time of the night, people are interacting with the undead - sometimes unwittingly.
Certainly there are those who welcome, even seek out, the immortal, as is the case with Samantha, an LAPD detective who enlists the aid of a bloodsucker from her past to help identify, track down and kill her daughter's murderer in "Dawn".
On the flip side, there are those clueless humans like Maddie, a bored and dejected Boston housewife in "Dusk", who has absolutely no idea her talented young dance instructor has had literally centuries in which to hone his craft.
And what of Alison, the icy businesswoman from Texas who finds out just a little too late, in "Midnight", that the cowboy who has recently roped her in and so quickens her pulse, doesn't actually have one himself.
Three women, three vampires, one night.
Think you would know if you met one?
Divided into three parts: Dusk, Dawn and Midnight, Crimson Hours is a collection of vampire fiction that takes a completely different tack from the usual vampire fare I've encountered thus far. To be honest, I wasn't exactly sure what I was expecting, but once I got into the author's style, which tended toward wordiness and took a little getting used to, I was completely immersed.
Simply put, Phelan is phenomenal. I've definitely put her on my TBR list for anything else she has published. Not only is her world-building and detailing solid, but her observations of human behaviour spot-on. You won't find cardboard cut-out characters here. Her vampires are unapologetically vampires, fangs, bloodlust and all. But they're people too, sensual individuals who've lived for many years with the burden of their immortality and the sometimes deadening ennui that brings.
Another thing I loved was that she resists the temptation to spill all her secrets. Each story is filled with mystery. You never know the whole truth, and it's fantastic to be left wondering, trying to figure out the facts she doesn't share.
In Dusk we meet Maddie, who is the epitome of what I'd term a "soccer mom". Somewhere along the line she's lost touch with her dreams, and it takes a mysterious dance instructor to reawaken her passions.
Samantha, in Dawn, carries a terrible burden-to find a killer-and to do so she must seek supernatural aid. But, is she prepared for the pain her discovery offers her?
Hardnosed businesswoman Alison finds her life coming adrift in Midnight, when her car is stuck in a mid-winter storm and an arrogant stranger with a secret helps her out of the trouble and into a crisis of the heart.
All characters are offered a turning point of sorts in their lives. This is a fantastic read. Each of these stories offers an almost voyeuristic glimpse into the lives of three women, whose worlds are changed irrevocably when they have an encounter of a vampiric kind. Go buy this book. What are you still waiting for? Phelan has a new fangrrrl-me!