Monday, December 9, 2013

Darkest Fear by Cate Tiernan

Darkest Fear 
by Cate Tiernan
Read: November 9 - 12, 2013
Published: January 7 2014 by Simon Pulse **UPCOMING**
Source: Edelweiss THANK YOU!
Category: PNR, YA, shapeshifters

Series: Birthright 1
Find: Goodreads | Amazon

Vivi’s animal instincts are her legacy—and maybe her downfall—in this start to a romantic fantasy series that will appeal to fans of The Nine Lives of Chloe King.

Vivi has known the truth about her family—and herself—since she was thirteen. But that doesn’t mean she’s accepted it. Being Haguari isn’t something she feels she’ll ever accept. How can she feel like anything but a freak knowing that it’s in her genes to turn into a jaguar?

Now eighteen, Vivi’s ready to break away from the traditions of her heritage. But all of that changes with the shocking, devastating deaths of her parents and the mysteries left behind. Vivi discovers family she never even knew she had, and a life open with possibility. New friends, new loyalties, and even romance all lay ahead—but so do dangers unlike anything Vivi ever could have imagined.

Vivi's parents told her the big family secret when she turned thirteen: she's descended from a long line of shape shifters called Haguari and can turn into a Jaguar. Instead of being thrilled about this news, Vivi was horrified, and has rejected everything about that nature since the day she found out about it. Why can't she just be normal? But when a tragedy strikes her family, Vivi is forced to confront who she is and reexamine everything she's denied about herself. 

I became a huge Cate Tiernan fan this summer, after I read and adored her Immortal Beloved series. They feature a heroine whom I fell for from the first page, even though she was extremely unlikable. I also enjoyed that it presented an unique take on immortality and the Paranormal Romance genre. Of course, I was hoping for a repeat of that in Darkest Fear. Unfortunately, though I picked up flavors of why I love Tiernan's writing, as a whole this book didn't work for me. 

Darkest Fear begins as a typical PNR in many ways. A tragedy leaves Vivi isolated and alone, without her family support. She has a secret she can't tell anyone, and feels lost and alone, especially because she all of a sudden has a lot of questions about her family and can't access them - or so she says. Because Vivi has always refused to discover more about her nature, she's lacking vital information about herself and her people. But instead of asking an extended family member questions, she chooses to do everything on her own. I got increasingly annoyed with Vivi for this. I just didn't buy Vivi's excuses for why asking her aunt questions, even really general ones, was a bad idea. 

Throughout this entire story, Vivi would make a tiny bit of progress in coming to terms with her Haguari nature, but then she'd backtrack again. This lead to long inner monologues where she'd struggle and beat herself up about how she felt. While I think Vivi's feelings and concerns were valid (for a time), they dragged on to long. Even after she joins a community of people of her kind, it still takes her forever to come to terms with who she is and that wore on me so much. I got to the point where I  didn't understand her perspective anymore and got so fed up with her stubbornness, that I could no longer sympathize with her. 

Part of the reason I struggled to understand Vivi, is because I was ready to embrace her animal nature early in the book. In fact, one of my favorite aspects of Darkest Fear was whenever Vivi was a Jaguar. I enjoyed how her perspective changed in that form, and also how her human and animal natures came together. I wanted her to explore the bounds of her ability. Although I'm assuming this will come with time, it is probably one reason why I struggled so much with Vivi's rejection of it. It was difficult for me to handle her very slow growth and path to self awareness. By the end of the book she's really getting there, but I'm worried she'll just backtrack again. While there is an overarching mystery that comes out, it is only focused on briefly in spurts, and the rest of the story is about Vivi's daily struggle to come to terms with herself. At the end of the story there is finally some action and forward direction, but all of a sudden everything ends, right in the middle of the (finally) exciting momentum. 

Despite all my negative feelings about this book, I did manage to find elements that I liked. Vivi graduates from high school at the very beginning of the story and I like that Darkest Fear has more of a New Adult, discovering your path, type feel to it, than navigating high school. This book features a mix of cultures, races, genders in a community living situation, which I enjoyed (this is also classic Tiernan). I love the house where Vivi lives in New Orleans and especially her cousin Mateo and his girlfriend Aly. Darkest Fear has some fantastic high stress, action sequences in it, all involving jaguars. It also features a few moments of nice romantic tension and swoon, but unfortunately those sections of the plot were only bright bursts in an overall slow moving story. Even though I have a few theories about Vivi's love interest by the end, we still know next to nothing about him, which was quite frustrating. Yes, despite my better judgment, I am apparently still drawn to these mysterious boys. 

Even though this review is mostly negative, I'm still curious about the next book in the series. Or at least, I am still a big fan of Cate Tiernan and hope that this story gets exponentially stronger in book two. I'm crossing my fingers, but not holding my breath. 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Medium - no immediate danger, but story felt unfinished. However, I was anticipating this, as it's standard Tiernan. 


  1. Well, I like that it has a New Adult feel to it, but I won't be picking this one up unless the sequels become significantly better. It's such a disappointment that an author we've grown to love doesn't deliver in her other works, so I guess we'll just have to be satisfied with re-reading Nasty's story. *sigh* I had high hopes for this since the synopsis seemed so original, but I know I'll have the same troubles you faced with this book. Thanks for screening this for me, Lauren - I hope your next read is far better!

  2. Even though there were a few things you didn't like in this book, I could tell that you still managed to enjoy it. I'm not sure if I'll read this one, but I'll be looking forward to your reviews of future books in this series.

  3. "While I think Vivi's feelings and concerns were valid (for a time), they dragged on to long."

    YES! I just finished this one last week Lauren and felt the exact same way. For the same reason as well. I was all for her being a jaguar shifter from the beginning, so it was hard for me to fully sympathize with her when she rejected it so completely. I think I would have understood more if she had just found out about the ability after her parents death, but she'd known for 5 years. I expected her to have come to terms with it at least a little in all that time. Still, like you said, she did show some progress at the end, so fingers doubly crossed that she doesn't backtrack in book two!

  4. I'm still a little bit intrigued by the other Tiernan books you read and loved and will probably pick them up at some point, but I'm not sure this one is grabbing me enough (yet) to make me want to read it! I love your review, though, because you lay out what you like about the book while also making known what didn't work for you and that is exactly the information I need! I think for now I'll focus on the other series when I'm ready to read this author. (:

  5. I understand not wanting to be a jaguar but, hey, you're going to have to suck it up and figure things out! Characters who deny their nature for so long and refuse to learn anything about themselves and who they are bother me -- sure, deny it at first but not to your detriment! Sounds interesting but...I think this goes on the maybe pile.

  6. I am still hesitant to pick this back up--I definitely was NOT feeling the little that I read. Although after reading your review (because I am not sure whether I will get back to it anytime soon) I also liked the times she turned into a jaguar and the vivid descriptions of what that was like, how her perception changed etc. That really stood out to me too. It's a shame that Vivi isn't as compelling a character as Nas-- like you and Keertana, I had high hopes for this book :(

  7. Oh I'm sorry this one ended up being a disappointment for you, Lauren! I remember reading your glowing reviews of Tiernan's Immortal Beloved series. That's too bad this one wasn't as strong for you. If the second one does end up being better, however, then at least knowing Tiernan's potential will have helped you stick with this series, despite its lackluster beginning. I hope that's the case here!


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