Title: Fang Me
Author: Parker Blue
Genre: supernatural/paranormal, young-adult
Series: The Demon Underground #3
Pages: 200 (Nook NetGalley uncorrected ARC)
Published: March 2011
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Source: publishers via NetGalley
The vampires want it. The demons want it, too. And someone is willing to kill Val for it.Val and Fang have to find the powerful Encyclopedia Magicka before either of San Antonio's warring underworld factions locate it or the consequences will be deadly for the entire city. As usual, Val's vampire enemies (they still call her The Slayer) want her dead. Even some of her fellow demons may be less than trustworthy, since they'd like to grab the legendary book of spells before she does. Val has a personal claim to the Encyclopedia--her demon father left it to her when he died--but someone stole it recently. And that can't be good.Battling vamps and dodging demons, Val struggles to unravel the mystery and find the thief. At the same time, she's fighting her attraction to sweet, sexy Shade--her favorite shadow demon. Rumor has it that Val will lose her part-demon, vampire-fighting powers if she gives herself to him.With a crowd of vamps and demons out to trick her or kill her, it's not a good time for her to risk her job as the city's best vampire hunter by falling in love. The stakes are high and aimed right at her heart. But Lola, Val's hungry little lust demon, doesn't like being denied. Will Lola finally get her way? What's a part-lust-demon-teen supposed to do? Whatever it takes.
Unlike book #2 which launched a completely new, different story from the first book, Fang Me continues with the same events of Try Me. Now established in roles and relationships, the characters of the Demon Underground novels have a continuing mystery to solve, in addition to a new unknown, unaffiliated demon in San Antonio. Pretty much on par stylistically with the first two, Fang Me continues Parker Blue's three-book-long streak of fun, easy and amusing vampire novels with a likeable, kickass heroine. Not content with the plethora of demons, magic and abilities shown before, Ms. Blue has more creativity to throw at her readers in this action-packed, fast-paced snarky adventure. Armed with a sword, a motorcycle, some vampire stakes and her trusty hellhound/terrier Fang, Val Shapiro is a character that I like more and more with each novel she stars within.
Val herself remains one of my favorite characters of the series - a situation I don't usually have with teenage young-adult (typically female) protagonists. She doesn't fall prey to the "poor poor pitiful me" routine so many "heroines" epouse, but (finally) nor does she believe only she can do everything. Val's relationship with Shade (more on him later) is another boon for the Slayer: both part-demons need the other to keep them "human" (Val in control of Lola and Shade grounded in this reality) without veering into codependency. They're good to each other, good for each other without being cloying or changing Val's harder edges. I did find the whole "lust demon loses virginity thus loses powers" to be a rather arbitrary "law" and also just kind of dumb: wouldn't a lust demon be fueled by sex, rather than depleted/lose powers and abilities by the act? It seems like - and comes across - as an obvious plot point thrown in just to cause a wrench between Shade and Val - and also to keep Val unsure of what she really wants. It's a very unfair situation for the teenager: the normal life she said she wanted, or the interesting, action-packed life she has lead so far.
Shade. Ahhh, Shade. One of the most likeable characters from all three of the novels, Shade is rapidly becoming one of my favorites for the series. Besides his innate kindness and goodness he displays towards Val, he comes across as the only genuinely nice guy Val knows, outside of Micah. Juxtaposing Shade's accepting attitude with Dan's complete and total rejection of Val and her demon, Shade urges Val to recognize that "Lola" is just another facet of herself, and not a reason to be ashamed. A healthy teen relationship, with the guy clearly intent on doing what's right? Wowza - another reason I enjoy these novels like I do. I do think that Shade and Val's relationship got a little too intense way too fast: saying "I love you" before dating even a full month tends to make me disbelieve/judge a little bit. For Val, someone who felt rejected and ashamed all her life, to go from "I'm not good enough for a guy" to "I love you" in a matter of weeks does not feel in line with her character.
However, Parker Blue is definitely not an author content to sit back, lazy, and using what she has created so far; each new novel has something unique and creative inside, new revelations about Val or her world of San Antonio. More details about the still-largely-mysterious Demon Underground emerge as well, and lend hope for a further novel in this series. Fun, not perfect but definitely worth a read if you're in the mood for Texan teenager with attitude, stakes, a hot shadow demon boyfriend and a lot of snark.