Have you ever read a book that's so good that you can literally feel the book slump you're going to get after finishing it settling in for the long haul? That was me, with THE TURNING. Everyone who follows me knows that I love vampire books that are dark and twisted, with moral ambiguity, weird sex, and tons of gore. I'm not sure why it's so hard for people to write good, dark vampire fiction, but it is, and they're the exception to the rule.
THE TURNING is everything I love in a vampire novel and checks all the boxes. The heroine, Carrie, is a doctor, and is killed on the job by an evil vampire who shows up in the ER. He leaves her for dead - only he accidentally ends up transforming her. And being the naive goody-goody she is, she spends a few days in denial before going to an online forum for help that nearly gets her killed.
Instead of dying a second time, she ends up meeting another vampire who actually wants to help her. This vampire is Nathan, who is part of the Voluntary Vampire Extermination Movement, a group of vampire police who make sure that their population stays small and that rule-breakers are punished (kind of like a less lame version of TWILIGHT's Volturi). Unfortunately, the vampire who turned Carrie - Cyrus - is at the top of their list, and Nathan has a personal bone to pick with them, as they share an original sire, who is also very evil.
Unfortunately, when you are turned, you have something called a "blood tie" with your sire that creates a very close emotional and physical bond, and despite knowing objectively that Cyrus is evil, Carrie can't really resist him as much as she'd like, and ends up making a very foolish deal that puts her right in his poisonous clutches. Emotionally devastated by her betrayal of Nathan and caught between two fractious and very different sides, it seems like there's no easy resolution in sight.
And there isn't, because nothing about this book is easy.
Reading the reviews for this book on Amazon is bound to turn people away, because they appear to have been written by people who can't stomach dark fiction. That's fine, but it's also not who this book is for, and therefore doesn't really give a good representation of this book's overall quality or what it's even about. Carrie is a fantastic protagonist and very flawed and real, and she also delivers some great one-liners that actually had me giggling. THE TURNING is aware that it's a book in a genre that's fatigued by tropes, and makes a few tongue-in-fang remarks about vampires.
Normally I'm not into love triangles, but this one was SO GOOD, and it was never fully clear which of the two Carrie might end up with. Cyrus is such a fantastic villain (despite his name), and definitely one of the most memorable. There are some truly cinematic displays of horror in this book. Nathan was also the perfect tormented good guy, and he's never so good that you find yourself rolling your eyes; his flaws made him more human (so to speak), and in a way, more endearing.
I'm honestly surprised this series hasn't been made into a TV show? It's better than True Blood, in my opinion, and is so action-packed and heavy on the drama that it would be perfect for HBO. I'm making it my mission to ensure that this book winds up in the hands of all my fellow vampire-lovers, and it probably wouldn't hurt to mention that this book is only $1.99 on Kindle right now.
P.S. This book is written by Jenny Trout, and not the similarly named Jennifer Armentrout with an "e." When searching this book, just remember - it's Armintrout, and the "i" stands for iconic.
4.5 to 5 out of 5 stars