Vivi has known the truth about her family—and herself—since she was thirteen. But that doesn’t mean she’s accepted it. Being Haguari isn’t something she feels she’ll ever accept. How can she feel like anything but a freak knowing that it’s in her genes to turn into a jaguar?
Now eighteen, Vivi’s ready to break away from the traditions of her heritage. But all of that changes with the shocking, devastating deaths of her parents and the mysteries left behind. Vivi discovers family she never even knew she had, and a life open with possibility. New friends, new loyalties, and even romance all lay ahead—but so do dangers unlike anything Vivi ever could have imagined.” -Synopsis from Goodreads.com
As a reader of paranormal fiction, the “novelty” of certain subjects wears off. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading books with vampires and werewolves and each seems to include some exciting twist, but I appreciate when I come across a fresh idea. In Darkest Fear, Cate Teirnan, inspired by the lore surrounding the jaguar, created the Haguari, a people who can manifest in jaguar form. I don’t know about you, but jaguar-people is not something I come across often.
While the concept is exciting, the protagonist falls flat. “Vanilla” is the perfect description of Vivi. She has no fire, few quirks, and sulks all the time. It’s pretty frustrating. After finding out about her Haguari heritage and nature, she shuns her loving parents and her culture completely. First, I want to shake her. SHE’S A JAGUAR. That’s way cooler than being a college student, trust me. Second, she has parent’s who love her dearly, yet she hates them and all they stand for. With her parent’s death, Vivi becomes a shell, feeling only sorrow. Karma, man.
The story picks up with Vivi following a lead on an unknown family member to the quiet little town of New Orleans. She meets a group of Haguari that become family, gets a job at an eclectic coffee shop, has a thoroughly confusing romantic experience, and slowly takes back her life. However, the most thrilling part is the investigation of Haguari deaths that may be connected to her parent’s murder.
Now that I got some of the rave out, it’s time for more rant. I think Darkest Fear may have initially been released in phases or sections on some website or something. Why? THERE IS A SUMMARY AT THE BEGINNING OF ALMOST EVERY CHAPTER. Yelling aside, it irked me to no end. All I could think of was, “I know, I know, I was there.” Apart from redundancy, the pace was insufferable. Nothing significant really happened throughout the majority of the book. Beginning: hatred, middle: self-loathing and coffee, end: now we are finally (thinking about) doing something about the murderers chasing us. Yeah, I know, doesn’t really make much sense to me either.
I’m not one to give up, and I think the plot is promising, so I will consider reading (or trying to read) the other books in the Birthright series. If you have read anything by Cate Tiernan, including the Birthright series, please be my Obi-Wan and give me hope for the rest of them.
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