Title: Feast: Harvest of Dreams
Author: Merrie Destefano
Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books):
“Halloween is a bad time to return to the woods . . .
Madeline MacFaddin (“Mad Mac” to fans of her bestselling magical stories) spent blissful childhood summers in Ticonderoga Falls. And this is where she wants to be now that her adult life is falling apart. The dense surrounding forest holds many memories, some joyous, some tantalizingly only half-remembered. And she’s always believed there was something living in these wooded hills.
But Maddie doesn’t remember the dark parts—and knows nothing of the mountain legend that holds the area’s terrified residents captive. She has no recollection of Ash, the strange and magnificent creature who once saved her life as a child, even though it is the destiny of his kind to prey upon humanity. And soon it will be the harvest . . . the time to feast.
Once again Maddie’s dreams—and her soul—are in grave danger. But magic runs deep during harvest. Even a spinner of enchanted tales has wondrous powers of her own . . .”
Thoughts: On the surface, Feast has every element which fans of paranormal romance fiction would enjoy. It has otherworldly creatures with a mysterious past, a strong central female character, a gorgeous backdrop, mystery, tension, danger. Unfortunately, the elements are combined in such a fashion that makes Feast extremely confusing and just plain forgettable.
In any paranormal storyline, the most important thing an author should do is to fully describe the supernatural creature. Unfortunately, Ms. Destefano fails to adequately describe the Darklings so that the reader is left not knowing who they are and why they are dangerous. With fangs, bat-like wings, and an ability to glamour, they appear to be similar to vampires, but they are not. With names like Ash, feeding on dreams, and an entire court system, they also have elements of the Fae, but they are not. Exactly what they are is never explained. The reader is left to put together a puzzle that is missing half of its pieces. This incomplete picture of the main dangerous element of the novel makes for lackluster tension. It is difficult to feel concern for the heroine when one cannot discern what the danger actually is.
The entire novel feels undeveloped. Maddie’s past is only briefly described, especially her fame and previous relationship which she is fleeing at the start of the novel. The curse that binds Ash is never explained at all. Neither is The Harvest, Maddie’s powers, or an entire slew of essential elements of the story. While the premise is fascinating, there are simply too many holes or unexplained sections that make it difficult for a reader to follow the action and care about the characters.
Where Ms. Destefano does shine is in her descriptions of Ticonderoga Falls. The outdoor scenes are some of the most fully described in the entire novel. As such, the reader gets a clear mental picture of the spookiness of the woods and the natural beauty of the area. These scenes are some of the strongest in the novel, even if the reader does not fully understand what is happening.
My disappointment in Feast is only enhanced by the fact that the premise of it is so intriguing. Done properly, it truly could have been an excellent novel that stood out among its peers for involving a new supernatural creature. Unfortunately, the lack of execution only leaves the reader frustrated with the potential for greatness the story has.
Thank you to NetGalley for my e-galley!