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Ravenous: The Dark Forgotten    by Sharon Ashwood order for
by Sharon Ashwood
Order:  USA  Can
Signet, 2009 (2009)
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Urban fantasy gets another shot in the arm with the release of Sharon Ashwood's debut series, The Dark Forgotten. In Ravenous, she introduces readers to hereditary witch and college student Holly Carver, who pays her way through school by busting ghosts despite her somewhat shaky talent.

As the story opens, Holly prepares to take on a haunted house that's holding a number of college students hostage and is less than willing to spit them back out. Holly's eventual victory over the house soon makes her the local go to girl for demonic occurrences. But with her unpredictable magic, that's not always a sure bet, particularly once she and her business associate, vampire Alessandro Caravelli, discover that the demon they'd excised wasn't as run-of-the-mill as they thought. Apparently, the murders had been committed to rip open the doorway to the demon realm.

Alessandro is more than happy to give Holly his full attention - both as a business associate and as a lover. But as attracted as he is to the vivacious young college student, he knows he should walk away. He is a predator after all, and while he craves her magical soul, he also craves her blood. When his maker, Queen Omara, comes to town, Alessandro's priorities are forced to shift. He owes his long existence and his allegiance to his Queen, who demands his total attention to help her sort out problems of her own. That Omara also wants him back in her bed only complicates matters as demon activity increases, a sure sign of an all out demonic war.

Intriguing characters, a unique world (including a nifty take on hell), and a very nicely paced storyline keeps the action zipping right along. Holly and Alessandro make an imperfect and thoroughly pleasing couple - Holly as the untried witch unsure of her fractured powers and Alessandro the smouldering predator whose very nature should abhor what she is but who craves her nonetheless. Their struggle to find love while battling the growing demon threat as well as Queen Omara's demands results in a well-conceived and enjoyable story, all of which makes Ravenous a noteworthy paranormal debut.

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