Georgina Kincaid is a succubus --- a seductive and immortal demon who drains the life force from mortal men, marking their souls permanently and thus dooming them to hell. She is a very capable succubus; after all, superpowers such as being able to shape-shift into any human form or change instantly into any style of clothes she wants come with the job description. But Georgina remains a reluctant and conflicted demon, even after having spent many centuries as one. She was forced to sign a contract making her a servant of hell to protect those she loved after she took a terrible misstep in her mortal life many eons ago. In spite of all that she had done and seen on behalf of hell, she remains haunted by the memories of the pure and wonderful men whom she has loved and lost over her lifetime.
While Georgina has been no stranger to dark days in her life, her mood has turned more gloomy than usual lately due to the impending wedding of her sometime boyfriend (and mortal) Seth and her friend and co-worker Maddie. To her horror, she has somehow been finagled into being a bridesmaid, and is faced with the prospect of helping Maddie pick out a wedding dress in which to marry the very man with whom Georgina herself is still deeply in love.
Although any woman may sink into despair under these conditions, in Georgina’s case, her depressive periods carry a heightened risk: each time she gets blue, she has been finding herself seduced by a siren song. An alluring, haunting mood threatens to envelop her during a period of depression and entice her through a dimensional gate of some sort. After initially dismissing these episodes as being alcohol-induced or hallucinations of some sort, Georgina has slowly come to realize that there is a sinister undercurrent to this siren song, and some entity has been trying to lure her into another world for an unknown purpose. Now Georgina must decide whether to fight the urge to step through that gate, or go there and see what awaits her.
As she and her roommate (and another ex-boyfriend, albeit of the non-human kind) Ramon work together to discover what is happening to her and protect her from whatever entity or entities happen to be stalking her, Georgina is plagued by yet another misery. Simone, a mysterious and not entirely trustworthy new succubus, has come to town and is making a beeline for Seth, apparently trying to get him to cheat on Maddie. If the greater immortals, such as Georgina’s demon boss Jerome and her laconic angel friend Carter, know what the purpose of Simone’s visit to Seattle is, they’re not telling.
Taken together, these are circumstances to test the mettle of any woman, immortal or otherwise.
In SUCCUBUS SHADOWS, paranormal and urban fantasy author Richelle Mead has given us a funny and entertaining novel populated by a warm and sympathetic protagonist and a solid cast of supporting characters. The storyline, which meanders through time and even space, remains both coherent and interesting, even as the tension slowly builds to a pitch. The crux of the story, where it is finally revealed what it is that stalks Georgina and what awaits her in the otherworld, is deftly handled. Mead’s academic training in comparative religions is evident in her easy familiarity with biblical figures and with world mythology, which adds a great deal of depth to the story.
Whether you’re a newbie to paranormal fiction who can’t tell a succubus apart from an incubus (the former is a female demon who preys on mortal men, while the latter is a male demon who seduces mortal women) or a paranormal fantasy fan of long-standing, there is something for everyone in SUCCUBUS SHADOWS, the fifth installment in the Georgina Kincaid series. The cliffhanger ending will surely have fans eagerly awaiting the next book. If it promises to be as good as this one, readers can count on yet another enjoyable ride.
Reviewed by Usha Reynolds on April 28, 2011