Let me begin by saying that writing a novel is a terrific achievement. I know, having written one ~ and only one. My hat is off to anyone who can complete a novel.
That said, here is my honest opinion of Fatal Retribution by Diana Graves, a paranormal urban-fantasy thriller-romance which I finished reading Wednesday.
Characters: Protagonist, narrator, and part witch/part elf/part vampire Raina Kirkland narrates this sometimes gruesome tale of supernatural crime and punishment.
Red-eyed, auburn-haired Raina heads up a distinctly drawn, colorful cast of mostly supernatural characters, including a family as dysfunctional as any human family.
Raina has heart and attitude. She delivers her lines with snark, but author Diana artfully weaves lack of confidence into her persona. For instance, though 21 years old, Raina lives with her Mom.
Diana does a nice job with her characters’ physical descriptions, which I feel gives the story depth, texture and color.
“Hey Mom,” I said quietly when she was finished with her craft.
She turned to me with a smile. Her eyes matched her long hair, black as pure onyx laced with gold. All of her features would suggest her to be an elf, but her curves. They gave her away as something else. The something else was half witch. Having the full attention of her large black eyes was always a little unsettling. Good thing it didn’t happen often.
Even minor characters, like Raphael the demon get clearly depicted.
The smoke grew into a tremendous beautiful shape. It looked something like a great bat or dragon. It had a thickness and a smell; dark ash and brimstone. It was the smell I had smelled earlier but stronger, more choking a presence. Red burning shadows played on the grey metal walls and the demon, Raphael, appeared to us; ashen skin, tight black leather clothing and hair the color of the setting sun. His eyes had a light in them; the brightest royal blue. It made the walls purple with both red and blue mingling lights.
Most of Diana’s characters are vampires, elves, witches, warlocks and more — even an obscure supernatural creature known as a “barguest.” She gives them all a basic humanity that makes them believable and mostly sympathetic.
Plot: After Raina and her brother Michael are infected in a surprise attack by an illegally created vampire, she enters adulthood on a quest to bring retribution to those responsible.
Setting: Fatal Retribution takes place in a contemporary world in which supernatural beings exist side-by-side with humans. The immediate locale is Washington State.
Diana offers some wonderful settings, like the town of Darkness, a tourist destination run by vampires. The town has street names like “Bloody Mary’s Corner” and “Artery Boulevard.”
There’s also “Bite Me Street” and — I loved this — “Chains of Death Candy & Gift Shop.”
Raina’s prosaic descriptions of the book’s supernatural settings are priceless.
What I thought could’ve been done better: Diana has penned a wonderful story, but there are a few jarring instances of misspelling and wrong word.
For instance, early in the novel, Raina’s bad-boy brother Nick teases her by calling her “fang bait” — which I loved — except Diana spelled it “bate,” which was a bump in the road of an otherwise enjoyable ride.
In another occurrence, Mato, the vampire sheriff of Darkness, explains that one of the town’s higher-ups is a succubus.
“She congers lust and feeds from it.”
Should be “She conjures lust and feeds from it.”
Diana also missed a few opportunities to use active voice instead of passive. For instance:
My brothers were standing around the fire pit, newly ablaze with fresh wood to fuel it. Nicholas was dressed in all black; a black tank top, black jeans, and black nail polish.
Slightly tighter and more active: My brothers stood around the fire pit, newly ablaze with fresh wood to fuel it. Nicholas wore all black; a black tank top, black jeans, and black nail polish.
These are minor points; not at all deal-breakers. Diana serves up plenty of serious active voice and vivid verbs where it counts, as I’ll point out in the next section.
What I thought was good: I mentioned active voice and vivid verbs. These are the muscles of writing. Fatal Retribution has them most of the time.
Wild blue flames burst from his body, shooting from his eyes and mouth, as though he were burning from the inside out. Before I could react the burning vampire slammed into me. He took me to the ground with him, burning us both, his skin enveloped in flames. We screamed together.
I’ve already mentioned that I liked Diana’s descriptions of characters and places. She develops Raina well through narration. I particularly liked how, early in the book, Raina ends many of her observations with a one-word-sentence.
He ripped away from my arm, taking a chunk of it with him, but it fell from his mouth as he growled at her from over my body. Whatever happened to want not, waste not? Jerk.
Fatal Retribution also serves up plenty of gore, a pleasant surprise in what I first thought was going to be a story about elves and witches and romance. I should’ve paid more attention to the title. Here, Raina tries to find a child left alive in a pile of corpses:
I hesitated only a second before I started digging my hands into the body parts, blood, and cold heavy meat, wet and tangled hair glided over my arms. I wanted to puke so badly. I closed my eyes and let my hands search through the gore, reach out to the emotion I felt.
“Where are you?” I said through gritted teeth. “Help me! Damon, please!” I didn’t mean to scream it, but as I pulled my arms out of the pile someone’s large intestine broke, and whatever composure I had broke when bile spilled out over my arm, thick and still warm.
Ewww! But I mean that in a good way.
The crown jewel, however is Raina. She’s a lovely three-dimensional character, who ranges from tender-hearted and vulnerable, to snarky and annoyed, to furious and raging, to insightful and analytical, to romantic and sexy.
In short, a woman.
Overall: Fatal Retribution easily overcomes a few typo-shortfalls to deliver an action-packed paranormal romp. It’s full of emotion, heart and guts — and I mean guts in every conceivable way.
It’s great paranormal fun with a parade of the most human supernatural creatures you’re likely to meet, starting with the narrator.
Good job Diana!
And for a sexy superheroine paranormal sci fi romantic adventure thriller, check out my own novel American Goddesses ~ thanks for visiting Honest Indie!