The campus killer is back...
...and this time bright, sensitive Steve Harrison finds the mutilated corpse. When he realizes the cops suspect him of the brutal murders, he calls a friend for support and is drawn into a secret world of magic, wonder, and dread. A circle of impossibly beautiful men guards the campus against vicious, inhuman hunters. Steve's education, his love life, even his survival is at stake once he learns what the police don't know:
The killer is immortal.
Title: Forever (Immortal #3)
Author: Pati Nagle
Publication Date:December 10, 2013
RATING: 4/5 STARS
Barnes and Noble Purchase Page: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/
I was drawn into this story from the very beginning, though when I realized a large part of the focus would be on a male to male relationship I worried that it wouldn't work for me. Thankfully I couldn't have been more wrong! The sex scenes weren't described in graphic detail, instead focusing more on the emotional aspects of a new relationship - something that everyone can relate to, regardless of sexual preference.
Steve is a wonderful protagonist, smart, attractive, and emotionally sensitive. After discovering the mutilated corpse of a student in one of his classes he texts an acquaintance / friend, Amanda (Manda for short), as she of all people is sure to understand what he is going through, between the shock of the discovery, and the cops treating him as a suspect. A year or so earlier Steve had helped save Manda's life, back during a rash of murders on the campus. It was then that he'd met Lomen, whom he'd carried a torch for ever since. That one simple text sets off a chain of events that are to forever alter the course of Steve's life.
Manda brings him to Caeran's house, a man who looks eerily like Lomen, enough so that they could be brothers. In fact, Steve learns that they are related, after a fashion. They are aelven, beings that our myths of elves are founded upon. And the white-haired killers were alben - aelven that have been infected with what they call the Curse. This infection turns them into vampires, thus giving rise to humanity's myths of vampires. The alben crave blood and khi, what we would call chi, or energy. Like the aelven, the alben have the ability to control their victim's mind, allowing them to kill with little risk if discovery by any but other aelven, who can sense their khi.
Steve is recruited into the inner circle of this small group. They are trying to find a cure for the Curse, and need the help of the humans. However, they are trying to keep this as far off the radar as possible, so there are very few humans they trust to ask, even with a non-disclosure agreement in place to help protect them. Steve agrees, and eventually figures out he was selected because they knew of his feelings for Lomen, and that he would never do anything to hurt him.
Steve meets the rest of the group over time, though this particular group is small. They also introduce him to Pirian, who is infected with the Curse, as well as Manda's lover Savhoran, who was just recently infected. The Curse really is aptly named, for aelven liven exceptionally long lives, long enough that they often resort to suicide when it all becomes too much to bear. Combine those problems with their incredibly low birthrate and the aelven are a dying species, which Steve finds absolutely unacceptable. He is ready to devote his entire life to helping find a cure for the disease, and helping find a way to raise the birthrate, though that is not part of the original mission statement.
The arc of this story is well designed, combining action and character development so smoothly that there is never a dull moment. Be it attempts to track down the murdering alben in town, or the simple discovery that Lomen shares feelings for Steve, something is always happening to keep Steve on his mental toes. With all his many ideas Steve is the breath of fresh air that these aelven need, whether they knew it or not. He is the perfect vessel to explore different types of relationships, biases, and prejudices as he has often been on the receiving end of such cruel emotions, and is therefore more inclined to do his best to see any issue from all sides before reaching judgment.
While this book is the third in the series, I feel that I've lost nothing by not having read books one and two - other than the pleasure reading them will bring to me. And read them I will, for I've thoroughly enjoyed this book and expect I will feel the same way about the first two as well. Plus, there is still far too much that is unresolved, leading me to suspect at the very least one more book in the series to pull everything together, though I'm betting there will actually be more than one.
Pati Nagle is the author of the romantic fantasy Blood of the Kindred series (THE BETRAYAL, HEART OF THE EXILED, SWORDS OVER FIRESHORE). She was born and raised in the mountains of northern New Mexico. An avid student of music, history, and humans in general, she loves the outdoors but hides from the sun.
Nagle's stories have appeared in Asimov's Science Fiction, the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Cicada, Cricket, and in various anthologies, including collections honoring New Mexico writers Jack Williamson and Roger Zelazny. She has also written a series of historical novels as P.G. Nagle. She is a Writers of the Future finalist and finalist for the New Mexico Press Women's Zia Award. Her short story "Coyote Ugly" received an honorable mention in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror and was honored as a finalist for the Theodore Sturgeon Award.
Her latest novel is DEAD MAN'S HAND. She lives in the mountains in New Mexico with her husband, surrounded by trees, starry skies, and wildlife