Immortal Unchained

      Publisher: Gollancz 

      RRP: £8.99

      Author: Lynsey Sands 

      Published:  2017-03-30




Ever since Domitian Argenis recognised Sarita as his life mate, he's been waiting for the perfect moment to claim her. Those fantasies did not include him being chained to a table in a secret lab, or both of them being held hostage by a mad scientist. Somehow, they have to escape...

Sarita has seen some crazy things as a cop, but nothing to rival Domitian. A vampire? Seriously? But his healing ability, incredible powers, and their mind-blowing physical connection - none of it should be possible, yet her body knows differently. Now, not only do they have to save each other, but innocent lives are at stake. Failure is not an option, for Sarita intends for Domitian to show her exactly what an eternity of pleasure feels like...


A literal tease.


Immortal Unchained doesn't quite seem to be sure what it is. At the beginning it dives rather rapidly into a graphic sexual encounter, putting itself forward as yet another supernatural romance/erotic encounter/pornographic fantasy novel; then, rather suddenly, it switches tack and becomes more of an adventure/thriller that somehow fails to entirely convince. Each is enjoyable, perhaps, as a light read but they’ve both got some major flaws.

If the aim was to write a supernatural thriller, you’d expect better, more coherent world building and layered, interesting characters, and sadly the premise of scientifically-explainable vampires, whilst earnest and well-intentioned, ends up feeling like the concept of midi-chlorians in the Star Wars prequels; unnecessary and interfering with the suspense of disbelief. None of the characters are very elaborately sketched, with the protagonist Sarita herself slightly irritating. The book tries to sell her as an archetypical badass cop but you never quite believe it; at points early in the novel she even comes off as stupid. Sands seems to be torn between wanting a feisty, feminist “strong female character” heroine and needing her to be weak enough to require saving all the time. Domitian Argenis, as her “dangerous love interest”, is okay but bland; you don't really get much characterisation. The main villain, on the other hand, is fairly pantomime, although thankfully he stops short of having a maniacal laugh. It's possible that the author expects you to be invested in characters fleshed out further by previous books – this is, after all, a rather staggering book 25 in a 26-and-counting-book series – but assuming that a new reader will do this is problematic.

On the erotic side, however… having thrown one serious sex scene at you early on the book Immortal Unchained fails to come up with the goods again; it falls asleep after sex like a selfish and disappointing lover and this, frankly, is equally disappointing. Having never received a properly plotted romance all you've got to hope for is more raunchy sexy times, and you never get it; it’s a literary tease.

To be blunt, Lynsey Sands needs to decide what this book series is going to be. If she just wants to write hot little novels with bonus vampires and adventures, the romance and sex needs to be more fleshed out; that way the space left by her slightly hollow world-building and characters wouldn't really matter all that much. If she wants to write adventure/thrillers, however, then the romance needs to be a little more coherent and slower.

That said, Immortal Unchained isn’t terrible; it’s a quick, fun and easy read, uncomplicated and (briefly) kind of sexy. The basic prose isn't too clunky or trite, and the book can be ripped through at high speed to entertain you on a rainy afternoon, which would likely lead to reading read more in the series. Not every book you read has to be perfect, and not every book has to cover every base; this one, however, really needs to make its mind up.