Narrated by Tavia Gilbert
Once Burned is the first in the Night Prince spin-off series based on characters from Frost’s Night Huntress novels featuring Cat and Bones.
After an accident involving a downed power line at the age of thirteen, Leila Dalton developed psychometric powers and the ability to channel electricity through her right hand. Anyone she touches gets a jolt, possibly fatal, and she sees their worst sin. At times, she may even discover something about their future. If she touches any modern technology she fries the circuits and even taking a shower is a problem for Leila unless she uses a lightning rod to release excess energy beforehand. To make money while blending in, she’s joined the carnival where she performs in a trampoline/gymnastic act.
Leila is kidnapped by vampires who want her to locate Vlad “the Impaler” Tepesh (whom fans of the series know as a very old and powerful vampire who can control fire). Leila and Vlad “talk” psychically when she links to him through touching an object with which he’s associated. Knowing that her kidnappers plan to kill her when the job is done, she throws her lot in with Vlad and aids him in his quest to locate the vampire behind the attack on him. Sparks fly. (Pun intended.)
Tavia Gilbert narrates – which is a blessing and occasionally, kind of a curse. She is an excellent narrator, with the ability to differentiate multiple character voices and one who understands the world Frost has created and its characters. Vlad is voiced consistently in past Frost audiobooks but Once Burned is told from Leila’s first person POV and her voice is Cat’s voice. Leila is not Cat – they are quite distinct personalities but I had to keep reminding myself “not Cat, not Cat” because she sounded the same. I was able to put it aside for the most part though I think it’s worth mentioning. But it was probably that which had my ears pricking up anytime Leila referred to “bones”.
Vlad is a man of his time – aka brutal – and hasn’t evolved into a politically correct 21st Century hero. I liked that he wasn’t prettied up too much. I also appreciated the effective use of profanity in the book – more noticeable for its rarity. The first time I heard Vlad say “fucking” to Leila, I had an almost visceral reaction – kind of shocked and thrilled at once.
Leila and Vlad’s story is not complete in Once Burned. That Vlad believes he is unable to feel love is just one of the barriers they have to work through and the ending did seem a bit abrupt. But, I flew through this audio. Tavia Gilbert is a wonderful narrator and I loved the Vlad/Leila pairing. I’m excited about the series and looking forward to the next installment.
Breakdown of Grade – Narration B+ and Book Content B