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Review: A Feast of Souls by Hailey Edwards

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A Feast of Souls
Author: Hailey Edwards 
Release Date: Dec. 18, 2012
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Araneae Nation Book #2
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Format(s): e-book
Book Source: Author

About the book:

      The only way to save her is to bind their souls as one.
      Born with the ability to communicate with the dead, few things take Mana by surprise. But when a canis lopes into her life, announcing himself as the long-dead father of a childhood friend, she’s shocked. To make matters worse, he has a dire message that she alone can deliver.
      Now Mana must face Vaughn, the male who inspired one too many girlish fantasies, and impart the spirit’s message—without acknowledging her source—so the soul can be laid to rest.
      With rumors of a burgeoning clan war setting his nerves on edge, the last thing Vaughn needs is for an innocent to get caught in the crosshairs. But the woman he remembers as an awkward girl refuses to leave his side until he’s heard her out. That’s not the only change in her that calls to him. Her kindness soothes his battle-scarred soul—and he craves her in ways a warrior shouldn’t.
      When they are both captured, they learn of an even greater threat. The plague devastating the southlands has come to his clan home. And his best—and only—chance to keep his people alive is the female who walks among the dead.

What VampBards talking about:

      Ms. Edwards’ second foray into the Araneae Nation series offers up A Feast of Souls for our literary enjoyment!  This delightful, intense tale brings us Vaughn and Mana, our hero/heroine.  We grow with them, through their trials and tribulations before we make it to their destiny.  Well-written with a sense of urgency to move toward the end, I was completely engrossed for the second half of the title, reading it in one sitting and neglecting the short stories I should be grading.
      Some of what completely fascinates me about the Araneae Nation books is trying to figure out exactly what – and not be too creeped out by – the paranormal-ness of the clans.  They spin silk, have fangs and venom… Yup.  Spiderpeople.  Holy crow!  We have a nation of Spidermen (Spiderpeople?)! I’m a closet super hero geek (shhh… don’t tell anyone!), so I fell in love with this series when I read Book 1 of the series, A Hint of Frost.  This title, A Feast of Souls could be a stand-alone, as Ms. Edwards explains with enough detail, as a reminder to her readers, events from the first book.
      While I can see the value in the first half of the title, it moved a little slowly for me.  I really liked the relationship building presented, but it just took me awhile to get into it (keep in mind, I started this book while my house was full of kids over holiday break…). There were a couple grammar errors, one of which made my eye twitch, but otherwise fabulous, skilled writing style!
      Talk about fabulous fantasy world-building!  I want to ride bears and dinosaurs!  OK.  They weren’t call bears and dinosaurs, but their descriptions made me picture bears and dinosaurs!  I’m also impressed with the way the characters from the first book of the series, Lourdes and Rhys, were mentioned, and we get a closer glimpse of Rhys’ backstory, albeit in a round-a-bout way.  Lourdes also has importance in this story, although it is understated.
      Mana and Vaughn are a pair of soul mates.  It’s plain as day for me from the very beginning of the story.  I get soul mates.  I believe in soul mates.  I do, however, believe that they would have SOMEHOW known before now that they were destined to be together.  I actually teared up a bit when we learned Isolde’s story, and I was really hoping that Ms. Edwards wasn’t heading us to a bait-and-switch.  I may have thrown things.  I LIKE Vaughn and Mana together!  I’m really not even cool with Mana interacting with other characters unless Vaughn is around.
      Vaughn is complete alpha male, mercenary.  Magically, and oftentimes mysteriously, Vaughn is sweet and tender with Mana.  It appeared as though all that knew him were surprised by his behavior with Mana.  When I hit about the 60% mark, I kept thinking about the song from Wicked, For Good.  I think the line that made me totally identify with Vaughn was ‘Who can say I’ve been changed for the better? / But because I knew you / I’ve been changed for good.’  Based on their shared past, I think that Vaughn would have been a different person if he hadn’t spent as much time with Mana and her people as he did growing up.  Even though he’s spent his adult life as a mercenary, earning money to support his people, the paladin (like a king in this instance) will be a just leader, when his time comes.
      Mana, which reminded me of the Hebrew super-food every time I ran across it in the book, was a dream walker.  I have always been fascinated by the prospect of dream walkers.  Even with a lot of baggage from her childhood, Mana seemed well-adjusted.    I was excited that she believed throughout the book that she did have a soul mate.  I envied her ability to see certain things clearly while retaining an innocence about her own future.
      A Feast of Souls is an expertly crafted novel, able to keep the reader entranced through the twists and turns of an awesomely crafted plot.  The romance provided was intense and built to an excellent culmination.  Great read to start 2013!

VampBards Rating:

Enjoyed – strongly recommend (A-)

Purchase Info:
A Feast of Souls (Araneae Nation 2)
Reviews in Series:
A Hint of Frost (Araneae Nation 1)
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