Eternal Neverland: Steps Before the Fall by Natasha Rogue

Eternal Neverland; Steps Before the Fall by Natasha Rogue(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)

Helena K. Sharpe was raised by a man who had sympathy for supernatural creatures, for the vampires his bloodline hunted for centuries. She was too young to understand how he tried to help them, but she knew it was important. Her father made her promise never to hunt them and she would do anything to keep that promise.

Until he is murdered by the very things he dedicated so much of his life to.

Orphaned and alone, Helena takes to the street, afraid for whatever’s left of her life. Without her family, she doesn’t know how–or even if–she can go on. Until a vagrant takes her under his wing and gives her a purpose. Revenge.

For six years she learns about the monsters, studies their habits, until, at 15 years old, she feels she’s ready to find the ones responsible for her parent’s death. All she has to do is become one of them. She’s cute, young, innocent…

They’ll never see her coming.

[Full disclosure: I requested and received a free ebook through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

I really had high expectations for this book when I started it because of the blurb.  A girl who has trained for years to hunt vampires becoming a vampire to seek vengeance for her family’s murder?  That sounds pretty darn cool, especially when she’s only 15 years old.

The problem was that the main character, Helena, was totally uninteresting in addition to being unsympathetic.  Things start out pretty good with her becoming a vampire, albeit with two sires.  Then she gets into the heart of a vampire coven and starts adjusting to vampire life, learning to go by the name Kitt because apparently vampires can read minds if they know your real name.  I could get past that weird world-building if Kitt was actually interesting, but she’s not.  Throughout the novel she’s supposed to be this master Machiavellian manipulator but all I really saw was a smart mouthed 15-year-old who screwed up pretty much every single thing she tried to do.  And yet every single man in this book is attracted to her.  Yep, I can totally see all of these decades old vampires being attracted to a naive if beautiful fifteen year old who seems intent on manipulating them all (unsuccessfully).  It just makes absolutely no sense and Kitt never really gets past her initial awfulness.  In fact, she seems to get worse as the book goes on.

As you’ve probably guessed, the world-building was pretty weak when you take a good look at it.  I can believe fantasy stories where knowing someone’s ‘true’ name gives you power over them, but just their first name?  That doesn’t really make any sense and Natasha Rogue never really explains it adequately.  The vampire hierarchy within the city, however, was actually pretty good.  I like the idea of different covens having different territories but ultimately being interested in keeping the general peace in the city for fear of discovery.  However, it’s not really explained why/how Kitt suddenly breaks the peace.  She does a bunch of really, really stupid stuff but why David (one of her sires) never lets her go to Charlie (another of her sires who actually wants to take care of her) is just left out.  So it somehow starts a war between the covens and other factions get involved.  It had a lot of potential but never really lived up to the promise in the blurb.

While the world-building was weak and the characters were generally intolerable, the strength of Rogue’s novel was in the plotting and the pacing.  Even though the plot doesn’t always make sense it is fairly interesting in the beginning and the whole novel is actually well paced to keep readers turning the pages.  She can do suspenseful scenes fairly well and her writing style isn’t actually all that bad but the different elements of the plot like the world-building and characters really did sink this novel.  It was a big disappointment and yet I have to say that I didn’t actually ‘hate’ the book.  The little intrigues were well written and with a little work, the characters could have been fantastic.  To be honest, it just felt like the whole book didn’t reach its potential.  Disappointing to be sure, but not a completely unenjoyable book.

I give this book 2/5 stars.

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