* * * * 1/2
The book's synopsis from the author's website:
Lanore McIlvrae is the kind of woman who will to do anything for love. Including imprisoning the man who loves her behind a wall of brick and stone.
She had no choice but to entomb Adair, her nemesis, to save Jonathan, the boy she grew up with in a remote Maine town in the early 1800s and the man she thought she would be with forever. But Adair had other plans for her. He used his mysterious, otherworldly powers to give her eternal life, but Lanore learned too late that there was a price for this gift: to spend eternity with him. And, though he is handsome and charming, behind Adair's seductive facade is the stuff of nightmares. He is a monster in the flesh, and he wants Lanore to love him for all time.
Now, two hundred years after imprisoning Adair, Lanore is trying to atone for her sins. She has given away the treasures she's collected over her many lifetimes in order to purge her past and clear the way for a future with her new lover, Luke Findley. But, while viewing these items at an exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Lanore suddenly is aware that the thing she's been dreading for two hundred years has caught up to her: Adair has escaped from his prison. He's free—and he will come looking for her. And she has no idea how she will save herself.
As The Reckoning is a part of the trilogy, I'm advising everyone who hasn't read part one, The Taker, to hurry up, get it and read it. The sooner, the better. This way you'll get to enjoy The Reckoning as soon as possible. And trust me, your time will not be wasted. Alma Katsu wrote a fantastic book. Even better, in my opinion, than her debut, The Taker. Which must have been a difficult task, considering that usually the middle books in trilogies are the weakest (that has been my experience).
Ms. Katsu wrote the continuation of Lanore's and Adair's stories with so much refinement that I was actually humbled in my light (sometimes possibly patronizing) treatment of the paranormal romance genre, although The Reckoning definitely belongs to the dark group of paranormal romances. It really is an intelligent novel, with writing and characters and the plot that stand out from the crowd that floods today's book market. This second part of The Taker Trilogy is better than the first (don't get discouraged, because The Taker is certainly a great beginning and you will want to read the whole trilogy based on it) in one, very important aspect. While The Taker was a fairy tale for adults, with very strong and mostly very brutal sexual elements, The Reckoning is no longer that. It deals with serious issues, such as a possibility of redemption, an opportunity to change and why it's not always fulfilled. It shows us the strength of love that endures centuries but that also can be very dangerous and may make us vulnerable to others and open to be fully exploited, helpless and yearning for the end of our lives. The Reckoning serves us the painting of how tragically potent and destructive human emotions can be in their extremes. All that makes Alma Katsu's second book a notch above the clear-cut fairy tales, even the ones in the spirit of Grimm Brothers.
And here, I must break my rule of never comparing one work with another. In general, such comparisons may very well turn detrimental to the novel discussed. However, in the case of The Taker Trilogy, such doubts must be dispelled. It will indeed appeal to readers who are 'seeking a less erotic, more literary Fifty Shades of Grey. But it will also satisfy those of us who run away from any book mentioned in the same sentence with The Fifty Shades Trilogy. Trust me, Alma Katsu is a class writer of her own, galaxies above what E. L. James could ever produce.
A word on the historical aspect
The Reckoning's story switches between the past and the present. Especially interesting is the part involving Lord Byron after he had been banished from England and during his stay in Spain. However, as it spans centuries, each time we go back to the past, it's a different era and a different country. Some may say that it could be too much and therefore too confusing. However, Alma Katsu managed to maneuver between the eras expertly and I don't think there's any risk of a reader getting confounded.
FTC: I received a copy of The Reckoning for review from the publicist, Wunderkind PR.
The Reckoning by Alma Katsu has been released today, June 19th, 2012 by Gallery Books.