by Alma Katsu
Summary: True love can last an eternity . . . but immortality comes at a price. On the midnight shift at a hospital in rural St. Andrew, Maine, Dr. Luke Findley is expecting a quiet evening. Until a mysterious woman arrives in his ER, escorted by police—Lanore McIlvrae is a murder suspect—and Luke is inexplicably drawn to her. As Lanny tells him her story, an impassioned account of love and betrayal that transcends time and mortality, she changes his life forever. . . . At the turn of the nineteenth century, when St. Andrew was a Puritan settlement, Lanny was consumed as a child by her love for the son of the town’s founder, and she will do anything to be with him forever. But the price she pays is steep—an immortal bond that chains her to a terrible fate for eternity.
This book exceeded my expectations. It was well written and descriptive. The story begins with Luke. He meets Lanore and she tells him her story. Not much is said about Luke. He’s just an honest guy who goes to work everyday. But I couldn’t help but feel that he needed to hear this woman’s story, needed to help her in some way. He needed a spark of adventure, a change of scene.
I was captivated by Lanny’s character. She narrates her story of the town of St. Andrew in the early 1800’s. I normally don't read books that take place quite so far in the past. Although that is probably because the characters are usually content with the way life is and I find it stifling. It's nice to connect with her, as she feels just as stifled by the life she is living.
She falls in love with her friend Jonathan, the most striking and popular man in the town. But she’s never his love interest. He has a reputation and sleeps with virtually everyone, only coming to Lanny for advice. He’s pretty much friend-zoned her, much like girls do with sweet guys these days. The worst part is that Lanny is not stupid. She understands exactly what kind of person he is. She isn’t deluding herself into thinking he’s in love with her, too. She lives off of his trust and friendship, thinking that because he’s so open and honest, he must think of her above others. I guess it’s true, in a sense, but I got the feeling that this wasn’t going to end well for Lanny.
Even after Lanny was sent away to Boston, she holds a place in her heart for Jonathan, not blaming him for anything. Without including any spoilers, I suppose I felt like she should have moved on and perhaps even blamed him a bit for her predicament. I suppose it’s difficult for women to do that back in that time period.
Lanny’s adventure really begins in Boston. She’s taken to a mansion by three charming people. They turn out to be less charming after taking her to meet Adair. This is where the immortality comes from. No, these people aren’t vampires. That would be too easy. But they are just as cold, conniving, and ruthless. Adair tells his own story to Lanny. Despite the fact that he’s somewhat of a monster, he’s rather likeable, in his own way. Lanny cares about him, but she’s wary and untrusting, still. With good reason. Adair has created his own following of immortal and ruthless beings. Why he chose Lanny, I don’t know, but she struggles with the same question.
I can’t give any more of the story away, but it’s quite interesting and the plot twists in a few directions. Jonathan is weaved back into Lanny’s life and she has to make some tough decisions. The story goes from Lanny’s past to her present, where she is telling Luke the story and they are driving up to Canada. Luke continues to be drawn to her.
This is the first book in a series and I am eager to read more. While the ending leaves room for more, this book can stand alone just as well. I enjoyed the dive into the nature of people, the nature of relationships, and the psychology of Lanny and the people she encounters. She makes some bad decisions, but she is not a terrible person. Her character has a lot of depth.
I would definitely recommend this book to others. I think it appeals to a wide audience because it has it’s foot in many genres. Fantasy, historical fiction, romance, paranormal, horror, and literary aspects are dotted throughout this book. Wonderful debut novel and one that will stay with me. It is dark, twisted, horrifying, sad, and absolutely wonderful.
'I could make all kinds of excuses, like how that's the way it was back then, that wives expected their men to fool around. Or that it was just the kind of man Jonathan was and I had to accept it. But that's not the real reason... I don't know how to explain it. I've always wanted him to love me the way I loved him. He did love me, I know he did. Just not the way I wanted him to. And it's not so different for a lot of people I've known. One partner doesn't love the other enough to stop drinking, or gambling, or running around with other women. One is the giver and one is the taker. The giver wishes the taker would stop.'
'But the taker never changes,' Luke says, though he wonders if this is always the case.
'Sometimes the giver has to let go, but something you don't. You can't. I couldn't give up on Jonathan. I seemed to able to forgive him anything.'"
UPDATE: I really need to do a quick scan of other reviews before posting mine because I always come across a few people talking about the same points and now I feel like I need to address them.
An issue people seem to have with this book is the character of Jonathan being flat and boring. I disagree that this is a flaw. One of the notes I put while reading this book was
"Why is it so easy to criticize others, as she did with Sophia, yet she follows in her exact footsteps. What is it about life that makes us feel we are different and what we experience is any different?"
I wrote it about Sophia and Lanny, but I think it's relevant regarding Jonathan. A flat and boring character, one that the main character seems to love, but we as readers can't understand it and it feels unrealistic is actually realistic in many ways. If people didn't care about horrible people, if people didn't care about those who treat them badly, if people didn't care about flat and selfish people then my facebook would be a bunch of crickets half the time. These things happen ALL the time. I don't think we as readers were supposed to like Jonathan. But he's not a placeholder and he's not unrealistic. He's just not likable. I think Jonathan's character was great and needed and serves a purpose and the fact that he is such a flat character matters and is not a flaw.
The other thing I kept seeing on other reviews was the problem with the sex. It's not good, romantic... not even close. It's brutal and terrifying and horrible and that (I think, at least) was the point. This book is not for the faint of heart or the easily offended. I probably should have said that in my review. It's dark. It works and adds to the story. It does not take away. If both Jonathan was likable and the sex was romantic, it wouldn't be the same book. It wouldn't make the same points and it would not have earned 4 stars from me.