Pros: Intriguing tale
Cons: Slow and ordinary at first
Rating: 4 out of 5
In Kari Kilgore’s Until Death (The Death and Redemption Series), Leo Sabov must watch his wife Maria die, a victim of her own alcoholism. After being utterly unable to conceive for years, including failed attempts at surrogacy, she found out that her own mother destroyed her ability to have children–both through mundane means (leaving behind scars on her belly) and via a curse. Before Maria dies, she asks Leo to have her buried in her family village in Transylvania, according to family custom. Leo can’t quite bring himself to go along with all of the customs of her village, and sets off a terrible chain of events.
The narrative goes back-and-forth in time quite a bit, particularly for the first half of the book, which I found disorienting and confusing. That said, I understand why Kilgore did it this way–the first chronological half of the story is almost entirely about Maria’s obsession with her infertility and her death by alcoholism. But there isn’t yet enough going on in the present-time bits to make up for that, really. Whether this is too slow for you or just right will depend on your likes and dislikes as a reader; I found it took a bit too long to get to the paranormal part of the story.
The real meat of the story comes when Leo has to decide what to do about his maybe-not-entirely-dead wife. This is when things get tense and fascinating. There’s also a young woman who’s been trained to kill Strigoi, and a very old mama dog whose job is to hunt them. As well as an old leader from the Communist Party who still wields a lot of influence in the village, and who has vowed to destroy the Strigoi. All in all this was an enjoyable read, but I don’t know that I’ll necessarily look for the rest of the series.
Content note for explicit sex.