I recently read the first three volumes of Susan Squires’ Companion series — The Companion, The Hunger, The Burning — and have to say I’m thoroughly impressed. I, by happenstance, had already read the fourth volume of this series, One With The Night (read our review), and found it a fantastic read. The previous volumes are equally well-written with Ms. Squire’s honeyed writer’s voice spinning delicious tales of romance and intrigue.
The Companion tells the story of Ian Rufford and Elizabeth Rochewell, whose paths cross after Ian survives being captured and sexually enslaved by the beautiful, cunning and vile Ashtiri, and his change into a vampire after she abandons him in the desert. Ian and Elizabeth meet aboard a ship bound for England, he hoping to reclaim at least a portion of his former life and she heading into a conventional existence after spending her young life helping her recently deceased Egyptologist father. Drawn to each other, the exotic and independent Elizabeth and mysterious and brooding Ian soon find themselves embroiled in a journey to stop an ancient evil as love and passion flares to life between them.
The Hunger centers around Countess Beatrix Lisse, a born vampire who is the toast of London’s social scene and who has never let her heart be touched by love. Weary and bored after so many years of existence, something finally surprises her — John Staunton, the Earl of Langley, a man who isn’t afraid to tell her no and who is rumored to be the biggest cad in England. Each finds the other an enigma, a puzzle waiting to be solved, and upon closer inspection they find themselves seeing each other for who they really are. Their attraction to one another only grows stronger as time passes and when John, who is actually a spy for the British government, is captured by Ashtiri, Beatrix must step up to the plate and confront the woman who was once raised as her sister.
The Burning features a heroine, Ann Van Helsing, with psychic talents that allow her, through touch, to know a person’s entire life. Feared and reviled by the local populace, a lonely Ann takes to wandering the woods and caves near her home at night. On one fateful evening, she finds herself face to face with an injured vampire, Stephen Sincai, a born vamp on a personal quest to eliminate the “made” of his kind out of guilt over a failed experiment that unleashed Ashtiri on an unsuspecting world. In a moment of compassion, Ann touches him and forever alters their lives in ways they never dreamed.
Each book in this series leads into the next, or is at least tied in some way, resulting in a spanning tale of unique vampire lore. The concept of vampirisim being caused by a symbiotic “companion” is a brilliant bit of thinking.
As with One With The Night, there are parts of these books that are not for the faint of heart. I described Ashtiri as vile, and she is definitely that. She lives to subjugate men, making them sex slaves against their will and for her pleasure, as she pursues a plan of world domination. Ms. Squires, however, pulls it off without going overboard, and fires the stories with romance and love to counter the horrifying nature of the villainess. The bantering and byplay with the love interests is wonderfully consistent, and the dialog is superb. I enjoyed these first three entries in the series, but I personally felt the series really hit its stride with One With The Night. They’re all very well-written books, and Ms. Squires does not disappoint.
Have you read The Companion, The Hunger and/or The Burning? If so, feel free to post a comment here and let us know what you think!