In this sequel, manipulative vampires target a bookseller and her friends in Florida.
Linda Bennett owns Oasis by the Sea, a bookstore in Oasis, Florida. One morning, an earthquake hits, ruining numerous shops, including Nirvana, run by her friend Shana Logan. Linda suspects that the peace the town has enjoyed since the defeat of Charles Wolf, a vampire, is over. Father John, a vampire hunter, and Abe, leader of the Watchers—who maintain “stability between warring sects of vampires”—know that Wolf’s vampire family has been trapped in catacombs beneath Oasis. A witch named Neva banished the vampires during “the time of Dracula,” but rumor has it that Wolf is back to free them. Father John and Abe locate a magical iron door in the ground where the malevolent End House once stood. They open the door, but it creates a massive sinkhole. A lightning storm above the hole brings Linda and her friends to investigate. They meet Sheriff Sam and Todd Morrison, a handsome human/vampire hybrid trying to help Abe and the priest. When the storm passes, time seems to have switched back to 6 a.m., thereby undoing the damage to the town. As plans proceed to rescue those lost, the vampire Elders learn that the Dead—feral bloodsuckers—have headquarters in a private club. Todd wants Linda to pose as his wife as they infiltrate a club in the New Orleans section of Disney World. Linda allows Todd’s charms to work on her—but then the dashing hybrid Gregg Harris asks her to a masquerade party, and she’s unable to refuse.
Set five years after the events in Leist’s (The Dead Game, 2013) previous novel, this sequel aims to expand on the threat of Wolf and explore romance among the vamps. Readers will also enjoy a touch of mystery when they discover that Wolf’s spirit has migrated into a new body. The author makes it difficult to pin down the villain since Todd and Gregg, sometimes literally at each other’s throats to win Linda’s lasting affections, both prove odious. Linda, for her part, almost seems aware that she’s in a bodice-ripper, constantly rebuffing her suitors and yet always ready for action, as in the line “His mouth devoured hers in a determined onslaught.” The Florida coast is beautifully evoked by water that “shimmered in alternating shades of azure and cerulean blue” and “the scent of zinnias and lavender” that “permeated the gentle wind.” Most of the violence isn’t the traditional vampire neck biting but more in tune with battlefield carnage (“A body hung from the chandelier—a headless form—still wearing his shirt and pants, now saturated with blood”). While Leist ably depicts famed elements of Disney World (the Pirates of the Caribbean ride) and Florida landmarks (the Everglades), readers expecting steady supernatural action may feel swamped by romance. Shana, as Linda’s sidekick, often experiences similar plot beats to the protagonist—as when she realizes Sheriff Sam is an unpredictable jerk. Twists involving Wolf and another, well-hidden villain keep the narrative moving, but Linda’s inability to stave off atrocious men—half-vampires or not—becomes distracting.
An overly swooning heroine trips up this intriguing supernatural tale.