Night Hunter
Grade : C+

Night Hunter is a paranormal romance that isn't perfect by any means, but among the hoards of vampires, were-animals and shape changers, it is refreshingly original. The monster in the book is named Cadamus and he is a creature that looks like a gargoyle and has a life cycle similar to that of a cicada.

When an old woman is killed in a cemetery in Phoenix in a very brutal way, the local news station sends anchor Celeste Todd and her cameraman Nicholaus Blackwater to interview professor Gillian Sayers. Gillian has written a popular book about Indian and urban legends that deal with a savage creature that appears - and kills - in the area surrounding Phoenix every 25 years. Since the manner of the old woman's death is similar to the deaths Gillian described in her book, the station manager believes her input will add punch to the story and help them in the ratings.

As it turns out, both Gillian and Nick have had dealings with the creature behind the killing. Twenty five years ago, Gillian saw a monstrous creature kill her mother. The police did not believe her and charged her father with murder - he is in prison and Gillian has been trying to get him out. At the same time, Nick's parents were killed by the same creature and it turns out that Nick knows more than Gillian, the expert. These creatures are controlled by the Dark Ancients, who are forces of evil. Arrayed against them are the Ancients, who choose a human as their Huntsman every cycle. The Huntsman is charged with killing the alpha male creature and the semi-sentient females before they can mate and continue the cycle. Each Huntsman has a helper called a Synsar and Gillian is Nick's Synsar. They must find the females and kill them, and then find and kill the alpha male. If successfuly, they will finally break the cycle for good.

The idea behind the story in Night Hunter is very intriguing, but the execution is sometimes clumsy and quite often I found myself saying "yes, but". The creatures live underground as harmless larvae for 25 years, then hatch from their cocoons and begin to wreak havoc. The male preys on humans and searches for the females, who stay hidden and prey on animals. Eventually, the male impregnates the females, who lay their eggs and then they die. Twenty five years later, the cycle starts again. Evidently there are only three females and one alpha male per generation. This seems like a very small number of creatures and since they have been around for hundreds of years, I thought it odd that they hadn't been exterminated before. I mean, how hard is it to kill only four creatures, especially since the females are not very intelligent?

Gillian really didn't seem to have her heart in the quest to kill Cadamus and the females. She was more interested in clearing her father's name (and his fate is left up in the air at the end) and she vacillated between being helpful and being whiney. Frankly, I think the Ancients could have picked a better Synsar for Nick. He, on the other hand, was an active and decisive character, though a bit closemouthed early on. There were several times when I was reading that I wanted to shoot, "Just tell her, Nick!" But on the whole Nick was a likable guy. When he rescues a young girl who turns out to be the next Huntsman, he shows he is kind and tender and will be a good father.

The book is left open enough that there could be a sequel - to say more would constitute spoilers, but the details involving Cadamus and a possible next generation, which could be "different", are squicky. I'll just leave it at that.

While I can't wholeheartedly recommend Night Hunter, I can say that it's an interesting experiment and Cadamus is a most welcome change from the usual cast of paranormal creatures who currently inhabit the romance shelves. If you like paranormal romance, but have had it up to the neck with vampires, try this book. Despite its flaws, it's an Original (as Lady Jersey would say).

Reviewed by Ellen Micheletti
Grade : C+

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : July 20, 2007

Publication Date: 2007

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