I was really looking forward to reading Helle’s Belle by Karen Greco. Half-human, half-vampire Nina Martinez is part of a band of secret and elite government operatives tasked with taking down rogue monsters. At the beginning of the novel she has returned to her hometown of Providence, RI, due to heightened supernatural activity. There’s a string of murders targeting the city’s witches and a hot FBI agent involved in uncovering the perpetrator. There’s ghosts, too, not to mention demons, and some long buried secrets surrounding Nina’s background.
With a set up like that, I figured what’s not to like? Ironically, this was the novel’s biggest issue for me–it simply tried to do too much. The action was, for the most part, well-written and entertaining, but it was almost constant. When we were given a breather to absorb Nina’s intense world of supernatural, it was focused on her coming to terms with her situation and because of the sheer extent of vampires, witches, ghosts and monsters, it was a lot to take in. I suppose if you were a fan of action books like Matthew Riley’s for instance (but craving a supernatural twist), this sort of writing would appeal. For me, I felt like I was reading a Hollywood action flick (and if I’d wanted to do that, I’d go and rent one).
The cast of characters were likeable, and Nina was a fun and entertaining protagonist. Her tendency to be clumsy when in human settings is a great example of this and was delivered well. At other times, I almost felt as though I was reading a cross between the X-Men and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I was left craving more depth and insight into the characters.
Max, the love interest, was definitely appealing, but at the conclusion of the novel I wasn’t sure what to make of him. I couldn’t figure out if he was a decoy love interest for the first novel in the series, because Nina has a secret admirer in another close friend. I’d invested a whole lot of time and effort in getting to know Max (and as it turned out, I quite liked him), so I felt disappointed on his behalf. Overall, the lack of resolution for any of Nina’s love interests in the first novel felt vaguely dissatisfying.
Sadly, there were also a number of errors, typos and consistency issues. Even the most pedantic reader might find one or two, but it got to the point where I felt annoyed because I’d stumbled across another one and it kept interrupting my enjoyment of the story. The prologue also left me feeling confused. It was extremely well-written and had me wanting more, but by the end of the novel I was no further enlightened to its relevance and didn’t understand why I’d been introduced to the compelling, kick-ass mayor character, to never read of him again!
Helle’s Belle was action-packed. At times, it was entertaining and even funny. I loved the cover design and it captured the mood of the story perfectly. For readers who love light-hearted action, you’d probably enjoy this novel. For me, I enjoyed parts of it, but found the connection wasn’t strong enough to look out for the next in the series.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Number of pages: 238
Word Count: 74,722
Half-vampire, half-human, Nina Martinez spent most of her life underground as part of an elite secret team of government agents who quietly take down rogue monsters — the human world none the wiser.
She moves back to her hometown of Providence, RI to keep an eye on the recent uptick in supernatural activity, and to help run the bar she co-owns with her aunt. Her attempt at a “regular” life, not to mention a budding relationship with smoking hot FBI agent Max, is cut short because of a string of ritual murders targeting the city’s community of witches.
But Nina’s investigation unearths deadly secrets from her long buried parents. Now the target of supernatural assassins, could Nina be the most dangerous vampire hybrid to ever exist? No wonder she can’t get a date.
An urban fantasy set in a decaying Providence, Rhode Island, HELL’S BELLE is a fast-paced, adrenaline-fueled roller-coaster ride through a city on the cusp of becoming an urban wasteland. An energetic, expansive, and cinematic, HELL’S BELLE was called “captivating” by Kirkus Reviews.
Book Chick City gave it 5-stars, calling it “one of the best urban fantasies I have read this year!”
10 eBook copies of Helle’s Belle by Karen Greco are up for grabs. Enter here.
About the Author:
An award-winning playwright, Karen Greco has spent close to twenty years in New York City, working in publicity and marketing for the entertainment industry.
A life-long obsession with exorcists and Dracula drew her to urban fantasy, where she can decapitate characters with impunity. HELL’S BELLE is her first novel.