I think that you’re either a vampire person, or you’re not. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of gray area there, in my experience. I’ve been a vampire person since I first saw Buffy the Vampire Slayer and realized that it was possible to save a gymnasium full of people in an impossibly huge dress and win the love of a 90s era Luke Perry. I’ve covered a lot of vampire ground since then and I’m happy to report that we have a new smart, fierce vampire story to add to the conversation: Chloe Neill’s Wild Hunger, the first book in her Heirs of Chicagoland series—a spin-off of her wildly popular Chicagoland Vampires series.
In Wild Hunger, we get Elisa, vampire daughter of Ethan and Merit, and Connor, shifter son of Gabriel and Tonya. They kinda sorta can’t stand each other at the beginning. Elisa and Connor have grown up teasing, taunting, and fighting each other, but Elisa’s return from a long sojourn in Paris gives them opportunity to get to know each other again.
What they find is surprising.
But they don’t have a lot of time to dwell on that, because Connor is heading to Alaska to re-commune with the Earth and his Pack, and Elisa is headed back to Paris, but first they have to prove that Riley, one of their friends and a member of Connor’s Pack, didn’t murder a vampire at a party celebrating the beginning of European vampire peace talks.
Complicating everything is the monster living inside Elisa.
Elisa’s the only existing offspring of vampires, and so it’s easier to hide her little problem: there’s also huge magic inside her. It feels dangerous and deadly, and she tries to suppress it because she knows it’s related to a wicked sorceress and how her mother Merit became pregnant with her in the first place.
Only Connor has seen the monster inside Elisa that she tries to ignore. Will it bring them together or pull them apart?
Told in first person from Elisa’s perspective, Wild Hunger is deftly told—it’s vivid and gripping. I love a fierce heroine, and Elisa is strong and compassionate, not afraid to risk herself if it might help someone she cares about. It doesn’t hurt that she’s skilled with katanas and has a monster inside her. Elisa's relationship with Connor is pretty chaste and straightforward at this point, but I have my doubts that will last long, particularly since the tension in this world is so high already. Elisa is a vampire and Connor is a shifter, and though they are wildly attracted to one another, a lot of people don’t want those to mix. Add to that volatility fairies, and you’ve got a real powder keg situation.
Like in her other books that I’ve read, Neill offers us in Wild Hunger a thoroughly and thoughtfully created world. Though the stakes are always high—we’re talking world domination and peace on Earth, people—Neill doesn’t forego the personal either. Defeating enemies and preventing them from subjugating others to their terror-filled reigns is important, yes, but so are relationships and love.
When I left this book—regretfully—I was both satisfied with how the plot worked out and already looking forward to the next one. I have my suspicions about where it will all go, but since Neill is the author, I know I’ll also be surprised.
I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley but all opinions provided are my own.
Give me that HEA, please.
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