Succubus by Brandon Varnell

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Title: Succubus

Author: Brandon Varnell

Genre: Paranormal/Action/Romance

Rating: ****

Review: The opening chapter to Succubus was amazing, we are introduced to Christian also known as the Executioner who has been tailing a vampire with the intent to kill it. The lesser vampire unknowingly leads Christian to its coven. Christian then proceeds to slaughter all 8 vampire with the skill and ease of an experienced assassin. Christian is part of a religious sect within the Catholic Church that deals with eradicating paranormal activity. While Christian initially comes across as very serious and stiff he has an hilariously internal monologue at times which I found to be very amazing. Just mere hours after slaying the vampire coven Christian is given a mission outside his normal comfort zone; a succubus.

At this point in the story three different executioners were sent to deal with this one particular succubus, one is dead and two are missing in action. Christian takes the mission as he feels it is his duty to do so, but there is something clearly off about this mission although Christian decides to hold his tongue on the matter. Normally men aren’t sent to deal with succubi as they have an aura of allure designed to ensnare men into their traps but Samantha; Christian’s commanding officer feels he can get the job done. Within the Executioners sect there is a caste system consisting of Assassins, Warriors, and the Casteless which I had not seen in any other paranormal novels like this one. Christian is a Warrior meaning martial combat was his forte. Assassins were responsible for killing aberrations that did not rely on power and strength to kill, but cunning and guile like succubi, and the Casteless are those who had yet to prove themselves in combat and these people among others made up the Executioners. As Christian begins to prepare himself for this new mission, we learn that like almost everyone else around him he has his own demons and his own personal reason from joining the Executioners.

As Christian begins his mission he knows that the thing that killed one of the previous Executioners was not the succubus as they didn’t possess claws – they have very human like features and are bound by the same limits as a human – and he may encounter something far more dangerous than what he has been sent to kill. Christian quickly learns that Lilith the girl who is supposedly a succubus has a fear of men and will run away from them, which doesn’t fit with the profile of this specific creature. When Christian and Lilith interact properly for the first time she is extremely surprised as no man has ever acted with good intentions toward her and she is also surprised at the fact he is religious. During this key scene we see a lot of Lilith’s reactions but don’t get a sense on what Christian is thinking and/or feeling about her. As we cross the 1/4 mark in the novel we learn that Lilith/Eve is being pursued by what I assume to be a dark creature who is intent on making her his bride and that Christian will find himself in a far more dangerous situation than he first thought. The creature intent on claiming Lilith turns out to be a werewolf, and Christian now has the unfortunate task of dispatching it but he is only armed with his butterfly knife. This particular werewolf is incredibly strong and even recovers almost immediately from a knife to the throat.

Christian and the inhumanly fast werewolf begin to battle, Christian is almost immediately at a disadvantage as he has injuries from the previous fight minutes before but he manages to get away long enough to get his weapons which will kill the werewolf. For the majority of the fight it seems Christian is going to lose even taking quite a damaging hit from the werewolf’s tail but in a fit of rage induced by the werewolf talking of breaking Lilith, Christian finds an opening and quickly dispatches the evil beast. Back at the headquarters Samantha knows there is something dodgy going on especially with the large gaps in their intelligence such as not detecting the werewolf, Tristan is quickly roped into the little tryst trying desperately to unravel the mysteries surround Lilith and why the Church seems to think she is a succubus. Christian then makes it his mission to protect Lilith and discover what is really going on with the help of some of his friends back at headquarters, obviously. As we approach the half way mark in the novel I am immensely enjoying where the story is going and the characters are very developed with some complex background i.e. Christian, Lilith and Tristan. I also enjoyed the different portrayal of paranormal beasts like vampires and werewolves coupled with the religious sect/paranormal hunters it makes for fast-paced and exciting reading. I also really enjoyed the slow burn on the romance with both Lilith and Christian both only showing some measure of internal desire for the other but no outwards signs excepts for some blushes here and there.

As we cross the halfway point in the novel, Christian determines that there must be an extremely strong curse placed upon Lilith but he has no idea of the type of curse or the person who cast it but now he also has to protect Lilith from the men around her and possibly some of his own people as well. We see the relationship between Lilith and Christian develop a little more with her trusting him (a man) to protect her and keep her safe which was a great part of this slow burn romance. Christian is just as inept at relationships at Lilith but he understands he is beginning to feel something for the girl that he really shouldn’t but he doesn’t make an huge attempts to deny the feelings growing between them. The being truly pursuing Lilith refers to her as Eve and he wishes to claim her, while we still have no idea what this being is or what its true intentions are, I have a feeling that the fight between Christian and the werewolf will be replayed with this creature. It seems this creature is currently watching Lilith from afar and has taken a bad view to her relationship with Christian but after it fed off 4 police officers it can’t reveal itself just yet but I have a foreboding feeling it will very soon. I really loved the interlude chapter where we can see what is going on from the antagonists’ point of view and it also provides a greatly needed reality-check outside of Christian and Lilith’s budding romance. I was actually quite saddened by Stacy’s death despite the fact we hadn’t seen a lot of her, but her “disappearance” will directly influence Lilith and subsequently Christian.

After Christian realizes he is falling in love with Lilith and is having reactions he has always fought against he runs away and accidentally runs into the creature that is stalking Lilith. As we approach the 3/4 mark in the novel Lilith is kidnapped by a “man” called Anthony was just happens to be an Assassin for the Church much like Christian, although his reasons are still unknown he has proven himself to be a formidable enemy in battle. Christian is awed and shocked and his own inability to protect Lilith and is now determined to find her and bring her back at least he knows what he is up against now although it has been made pretty clear that he can’t rely on backup arriving in time for him. We learn that the thing stalking her is the creature that has haunted Lilith for years, as she can’t fight him off she can only hope that somebody saves her soon. As Christian finds the hideout he now knows the creature is a No life king, an extremely strong breed of vampire which has to power to possess the corpses of his meals, and it turns out the Assassin he faced wasn’t Anthony but someone else using his gloves. Christian knows he will have to engage the vampire in combat in order to kill it but he has to get Lilith to safety first. Lilith tells Christian that the creatures name is Damien and before he has time to remove her from the mansion the beast arrives and Christian now has to face but will he and Lilith survive it. They managed to escape but Christian knows he needs to prepare before facing this monster head on. With Lilith safe things take a dramatic turn of events as both parties let there emotions spill over and both lose the virginity to each other in the throws of love and passion but I am beginning to think that Lilith isn’t human, she may not be a succubus but she could be something else, something unknown to the Executioners.

As Christian gears up for the final battle, Lilith agrees to act as bait in order to draw Damien out into the open where they can use his one weakness aka sunlight against him, hopefully ending his existence and freeing Lilith. The final battle between Christian and Damien is intense and leaves Christian mortally wounded but with some help from Lilith, they manage to kill him. But we learns that Lilith most definitely isn’t human and Samantha is going to order Christian to do something he isn’t going to do, to kill Lilith. The ending of this book was perfect it leaves a nice opening for a sequel but also leaves a slightly ambiguous ending that the reader can end in their own way should the author leave this book as a stand alone. Despite being a little slow to start this turned out to be an amazing read and I highly recommend it, although if you don’t like novel with religious undertones this may not be for you but I’d still urge you to give it a go.

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