Memories of Envy by Barb Hendee

Memories of Envy: A Vampire Memories Novel
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With so many vampire novels on the market, it’s tough to get something that’s truly unique.  However, Barb Hendee’s Vampire Memories series has proven to be a real bastion of creativity in a sub-genre that has sorely needed some revitalizing.  The third book, Memories of Envy, takes readers to the Roaring Twenties with a vampire who’s just as cute as she is deadly.

(Description nicked from the back of the book.)

“A reluctant predator, Eleisha Clevon has made a home for herself and other vampires in Portland, Oregon.  Despite the risks, she is determined to locate all vampires who still reside in isolation so she can offer them sanctuary and, more important, so she can teach them to feed without killing.  She is shocked when she learns that a lost vampire may be living as close as Denver—and she has to handle this one more carefully than any she has ever approached.

Simone Stratford is a beautiful, delicate-looking creature from the roaring twenties who enjoys playing elaborate games with mortals: She stokes their passion for her before finally draining them of their blood.

When Eleisha and her protector, Philip Brante, go to Denver to search for Simone, what they find is far worse—and more seductive—than either one bargained for.  Philip’s love for Eleisha and his ability to fit into her world are pushed to the breaking point, as is Eleisha’s fierce belief in her own mission.  But soon they find themselves caught up in one of Simone’s games, which turns into a battle for Eleisha’s life and Philip’s soul.”

One of the things that I like most about this series is how deeply it delves into the psyche of the characters.  These vampires are not all-powerful, sparkly gods.  They’re very real, and they have very real problems: Eleisha was, for all intents and purposes, an abuse victim who spent years caring for an elderly vampire; Rose has a crippling fear of travel; Philip can’t remember his life before he was turned.  It makes for a set of extremely interesting characters, not only for these limitations but for the way they work around them or learn to deal with them.

I also find the flashbacks to be fascinating glimpses of vampires and how they lived in the past.  To be frank, it reads like a nice session of juicy gossip, and it certainly plays on readers’ curiosity.  Thankfully, Hendee satisfies everybody’s curiosity in every book, providing backstories and titillating bits of information.  While I’m sure some might find the flashbacks intrusive or think that they interrupt the narrative, I think they blend in quite well.  And with new vampires appearing in every book, there’s always some new gossip to chew on.

The plot is pretty straightforward—find Simone and bring her into the fold as a vampire who no longer needs to kill to feed—and it doesn’t bring many surprises.  However, it’s solid, and it provides a good foundation for all the backstories that get brought into the tale.  And that’s what I found to be the most interesting part of the novel anyway.

I’ve greatly enjoyed each book in this series, and Memories of Envy is no exception.  Part drama, part action, and all entertainment, this is one series that I have no trouble recommending.  If you’re tired of vampires who can do anything that they want, try these complex characters for a breath of fresh air.

Also by this author: Ghosts of Memories, In Memories We Fear, The Mist-Torn Witches

This review appeared on Owlcat Mountain on September 7, 2011.

Series: Vampire Memories
ISBN: 9780451464088
Publisher: Roc
Page Count: 336
Publication Date: October 5, 2010
Acquired: Personal purchase
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