“…to most I probably looked like a total freak, with black hair and red-fuchsia highlights, tall leather boots, a fishnet tee, and pale skin with bloodred lips. And I’m pretty positive the dragon tattoos – visible beneath the fishnet – that crept from my lower back up my spine and down both arms made people do a double take, as did the ebony angel wing inked into the skin at the corner of my left eye.”

 

When Riley’s young brother Seth breaks into a mausoleum with some of his buddies, they inadvertently release the souls of two vicious brothers who happen to be descendants of a powerful vampire bloodline. Now with her own brother in danger of turning into one of the undead, Riley turns to Preacher, a respected Gullah elder and her adoped grandfather, who reveals to her some jaw-dropping secrets: namely that his family and another clan of vampires has had a mutually beneficial alliance for generations – Preacher and his people keep their vampiric allies fed in a civilized manner and they guard Savannah and its inhabitants from rogue bloodsuckers. But now with two insane vampires freed from their earthly prison and intent on building a vampire army, no one is safe – especially Riley…

 

And her love interest? You guessed it – a vampire. Yawn. Not very original, I admit, but as the novel unfolds, the narrative conventionality slowly sloughs off …

 

 

“When people think of Savannah, they think of the Old South, horse-drawn carriages, moss, an original colony with scenic squares, tall church spires, and, strangely enough, Gothic Revival architecture. Maybe even Paula Deen and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The part of Savannah they don’t see, and the part society is blind to? It’s there, in the recesses of the shadows. Dark. Dangerous. Hidden…” 

 

Riley is a typical paranormal fantasy heroine, who has had her fair share of tragedy and loss: “I’d been a tough-ass since age nine and had grown only tougher as I’d aged. I was a fighter, and now was definitely time to fight.”

 

But with supernaturally sexy vampire stud Eligius “Eli” Dupre as a constant bodyguard, her defenses begin to slip – cue the eye-crossing sexual tension! – and as the misfit duo desperately try to save Riley’s brother, they both begin an emotionally super-charged relationship filled with wild eroticism and sexually twisted dreams…

 

(referenced in the novel) with the dark sensuality of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake saga.

 

Did this debut novel blow me away with its originality? No. But what it did do was set the groundwork for a series with limitless potential. Jasper has created an endearing central group of characters as well as an interesting vampire mythology. Afterlight reminded me on numerous levels of LKH’s Anita Blake saga – arguably one of the most popular paranormal fantasy series being published right now – and here’s why. I remember way back in 1993 when Laurell released Guilty Pleasures. It was an entertaining read and although it sold well, it didn’t “wow” me. But the foundation was there for something magnificent – and with every subsequent release (The Laughing Corpse, Circus of the Damned, etc.) the storyline expanded, the characters became more developed, the narrative tone deepened…

 

 

Will Elle Jasper distinguish herself from the mass of talented new paranormal fantasy authors? Any comments from those of you who have read this debut?

 

 

 

Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for almost the last two decades and has written more than 6,000 reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, and BarnesandNoble.com. In his free time, he reads.

Comments
by on ‎11-05-2010 12:31 PM

Hoping to be able to get this soon and read it.  I have been trying to decide if I ant to get it but your article has definitely decided me to read it.

 

Toni

by PhyllisJ on ‎11-05-2010 03:43 PM

Hi Paul,  great review as always.  I picked up Afterlight this morning and just kept reading, I would have read to the end of the book, but my phone rang.  I have about 50 pages to go and I will finish it this afternoon.  Up to this point, I have enjoyed reading the book and I found myself liking Riley from the opening pages.  I will pick up her sequel Everdark next year. 

by Moderator dhaupt on ‎11-08-2010 05:02 PM

Wow Paul great article, this is one I'll have to check out.

Deb

 

by on ‎11-21-2010 08:46 AM

I have been looking for another series to add to my ever growning UF/Paranomal ''Adventure..Since i lived in Ga.Love Savannah and always fascinated by "Gullah" traditions and lore?..This will be a treat for me..Phyliss gave it a thumbs up.,Nelsmom is going to read it and Debbie   She just likes you  LOL...I will here  from her I'm Sure...... .You seemed to think"Elle Jasper" has potential..Thanks PGA..,Still a Newbie..Susan..THGIrls