New Orleans heiress Regan Henry is trapped in a loveless marriage with a man who spiritually and mentally abuses her. At yet another party that her husband forces her to host, she meets Felix LeBlanc, the entertainer for the night. He is a voodoo practitioner, and has strangely accurate insight into her painful past. During their short conversation, Felix says something that strikes a chord within her and gives her the courage to leave her husband.
Three months later, the divorce is in progress and Regan has just purchased an enormous house in the French Quarter. Never mind that her family and friends can’t understand why she’s suddenly decided to ruin her “perfect” life, never mind that nobody is supporting her decision to be independent – all she focuses is on the freedom she is currently enjoying. When she rummages through her new house, she finds a diary hidden in a bureau’s secret compartment. Within the pages is an eerie story of a desolate young woman whose entire family is killed by yellow fever in only twenty-four hours – who eventually turns to the black arts for solace. As the diary progresses, it becomes evident that the woman is obsessed with a man she calls “F” who teaches her voodoo spells. After Regan reads the diary, strange things start happening to her. She goes to bed and wakes up in different rooms, objects start rearranging themselves, and she begins having vivid dreams through another person’s eyes. Desperate, she turns to the only person she knows may be able to give her answers: Felix LeBlanc.
Drawn to Regan against his will, Felix agrees to help her solve the mystery. Little does Regan know that Felix is the “F” in the woman’s diary, and that he is over a hundred years old, caught in a demon’s power and forced to be his servant. As time passes, it seems that the ghost wants something from Regan, and Felix has to find a way to protect her from both the ghost and Regan’s ex-husband, who is also not the man he seems.
Regan’s personality is a little flat, even though she does gain enough courage to fight for a new life. I never felt like she really grew out of her old self. Felix is more of a letdown, because he’s set up to be an extremely enigmatic character. At the beginning of the story, he tries to stay away from Regan because of his Wicked Past, which I naturally assumed to be pretty dire. Turns out he was basically tricked into becoming a demon’s slave, and he has been resigned to the situation this past hundred years. For a while, Felix is afraid to assist Regan in any way, until he suddenly throws caution to the wind and decides to help her. What changes his mind, I don’t know – he isn’t even particularly effective in helping her. Without going into spoiler territory, I found it difficult to believe that such an old, bad-ass demon could be beaten so easily (not to mention randomly), or that everything could be solved so neatly. Felix’s demeanor through the latter part of the book is wide-eyed, hopeful innocence, which is a result of the love he feels for Regan. His big thing is that he was repeatedly used and tossed aside in his past relationships, and Regan is the first woman in his life who actually cares how he wants his eggs to be cooked and how crispy he likes his bacon. The man-who-has-never-been-given-a-gift trope is old and tired, and I wasn’t in the mood to feel sufficiently touched.
Regan and Felix have some pretty good chemistry at the beginning, and I liked her newly independent, a-little-scared-but-trying-to-be-bold attitude. Felix is not bad at being infuriatingly attractive, with his mysterious background and his reserved nature. But the minute the two actually become a couple, they fizz out. Really fizz out. Felix becomes extremely…normal, in a boring way, and the aspect of playfulness that previously pervaded their relationship dies out.
The Shining is one of my favorite movies, and the first half of the story had definite ghostly touches that I enjoyed. I really liked the beginning of the book, eagerly expecting a scarily satisfying resolution to the haunted house. Unfortunately, the haunted aspect of the storyline ultimately peters out, and I felt a little cheated.
I was really disappointed by the end of The Taking, because the initial plot was pretty darn good. The interesting haunted element wussed out, and the attractive chemistry between the main characters faded. Sometimes anticipation is just too sweet.