Venom and Vanilla by Shannon Mayer
Series: Venom Trilogy #1
Published by 47north
Published on: November 1, 2016
Genres: Urban Fantasy
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Successful Seattle baker Alena Budrene doesn’t want to die. But when she’s infected with a lethal virus spread by supernatural beings, her only chance for recovery is to make a deal with the devil—or in this case, a warlock.
Though he saves her life, it looks nothing like the life she once knew—and neither does she. Alena is a new breed of “Supe” no one has ever seen before. Even the supernatural police don’t know what she is. Now exiled to the northern side of the Wall, which marks the divide between humans and Supes, Alena is thrust into a dark and magical new world.
But just as she begins to adjust to all things supernatural, she realizes that her transformation is the least of her worries—and it was no accident. She was chosen…to be killed by a Greek hero trying to make a name for himself once more.
Alena was brought up to be subservient, preferring creating to fighting, and vanilla and honey to blood. But that was then. Now, to survive, she must stand up for herself—and this time she’s got fangs. But will she be ready to use them?
In an attempt to not judge this book by the same standard as Shannon Mayer’s other titles, I constantly readjusted my mindset while reading VENOM AND VANILLA. The tone was very light, I’d describe it as an Urban Fantasy parody, and the protagonist is a Firstamentalist (think religious zealot meets goody-goody). But, try as I may, the insta-heroine, mythology leaps, and shaky pacing just didn’t work for me.
I enjoyed the premise, and the basis of the VENOM TRILOGY was sound. Alena is forced to adjust to an inconceivable situation when she’s diagnosed with the Aegrus virus. There is no cure, and it kills within weeks unless the infected is willing to give-up life as they know it, and become a monster. For Budrene that’s a huge ask because it goes against her morals, upbringing, and the very fiber of her being.
Here’s where things start to get wonky. Lena owns her new identity without barely batting an eye. She now has the body of a sex goddess, and has basically condemned her soul to Hell by turning her back on her beliefs. So, she evolves from a little brown church mouse to a lethal succubus overnight with next to no fuss, and yet she can’t bring herself to swear. Her character was rife with inconsistencies, and contradictions.
Ok, so now that we’ve established that I’m not keen on just-add-water-champions the remaining reasons on why I didn’t like this novel should be fairly apparent. Lena defeats Archilles with minimal bluster (or effort), makes Greek mythology her bitch, and amasses an outrageous number of allies in the war of heroes vs. monsters for someone who’s essentially the equivalent of a one-day-old baby in the world of Super Duper.
VENOM AND VANILLA was a hot mess.