It’s wonderful to find a new voice in romance, and author Kylie Griffin has a great voice. Her new paranormal/fantasy romance, Vengeance Born, is the start of an exciting new series. With a terrific mythology, clever world building and fully developed characters, this one has all the makings of a series that will become an addiction.
Ms. Griffin has a smooth writing style and rhythm which immediately draws you into the fantastical world she has created; a world where demons and humans have been at war for over five hundred years. These demons are proud and strong but cruel and brutal warriors. Their lives are based on a caste system where only the strongest survive, and that means pure blood lines. Being a half-blood (half human/ half demon) is tantamount to sacrilege. Our heroine Annika is a half-blood but to make matters worse she’s also the daughter of the demon leader.
Annika’s life has not been easy, in fact quite the opposite. Her intelligence, strength and innate goodness coupled with her belief that somehow, someway, there is a better life gives her the courage to continue. In many ways Annika reminds me of the character Ayla in the much beloved The Clan of the Cave Bear (Earth's Children #1) series. Annika has been raised by people who treat her with disdain and contempt and so every day she’s had to push herself harder, learn more, be better; all the while believing she could never be as good as she needs to be. In striving to be better she quietly but steadily develops into a woman who is both brilliant yet humble. Like Ayla, she has a mother figure that cares for her and teachers her the ways of humans. Annika’s dream is to find her birth mother’s people, and live among them; but that too is a frightening prospect.
Given the profound hatred between humans and demons being a half-blood is never a good thing; you are hated and mistrusted by both sides. When Kalan, a Light Blade warrior, is captured by the demons Annika realizes that this may be her only hope of escaping the demon fortress. She makes a bargain with the prisoner; she will help him escape but only if he promises his protection once they reach human territory.
So begins the journey of Kalan and Annika, a relationship forged in mutual need but distrust. All his life Kalan has been taught to hate demons, his main purpose in life is to wage war against them in order to save the human race. Having to rely on Annika is one of the hardest things this warrior has ever had to do. During their perilous escape to freedom they slowly learn more about each other, but prejudices learned at birth are hard to ignore. Overcoming obstacles and hardships and having to rely on one another for their lives is the perfect circumstance for trust and even friendship to begin.
The romance between Annika and Kalan is beautifully written and is the perfect voyage of tentative steps from ignorance to doubt, and from doubt to an uneasy alliance. From there they move on to working together for a common goal and then to friendship and finally love.
While Vengeance Born is primarily about the romance between Kalan and Annika, the other driving force behind this book is prejudice. Ms. Griffin gives us a ring side seat to the kind of long standing ignorance that can lead to prejudice causing misunderstanding and fear towards anyone who is different. Learning to look beyond what you are taught and to see a person for who they really are is not an easy thing to do. Throughout this book each character has to face head on their long standing beliefs and grapple with new truths.
Vengeance Born is the beginning of a new series with an exciting world on the brink of change populated by characters that have to forge a new way of thinking about their past and their future. It is a unique and fascinating blend of action, fantasy, romance, mystery and drama. I’m excited by this world and the people in it and I’m looking forward to the next book in the Light Blade series.