Norah: A Tenebris Desire Novel
by Gia Coble
While the romance in this novel didn’t live up to the initial hype, I think it has the potential to work for many other readers.
Thank you to Reedsy Discovery for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I hear the word vampire and I say, “beam me up, Scotty.” I might be mixing genres but the sentiment is there. I grew up reading vampire novels, and as it turns out it wasn’t just a phase. It’s a lifestyle. As you can imagine, I was thrilled to see a vampire novel pop up on Reedsy Discovery’s list of books for review, and jumped at the chance to read it.
I flew through the first 150 pages of this novel in one sitting. It was a quintessential meet cute, if the meet cute started as a direct result of what appeared to be, but was in fact not, a suicide attempt. Which reminds me, here are some trigger warnings: suicidal ideation/discussion, PTSD, kidnapping, murder, and some very graphic scenes. All pretty par for the course when it comes to paranormal or supernatural romances, but still worth noting.
We meet our main characters, Norah and Ethan, and watch as they fall in love, despite Norah’s laundry list of misgivings and internal debates. Ethan slowly, and lovingly pries her out of her shell, and teaches her how to enjoy living again. This part of the novel was undoubtedly my favorite. I found myself giggling and punching the air at their romantic date nights, and sweet intimate moments together.
Sadly, that feeling didn’t last forever as the plot of the novel kicked up a notch. The more I kept reading the more I started seeing some of Ethan’s red flags. I’ve contemplated whether these are personal red flags that other readers will equate with characteristics of a sweet, overprotective, alpha male boyfriend, or if he’s just a flawed character and Norah chooses to overlook those less appealing attributes (again, I’m projecting). Believe me, I really tried falling for Ethan as much as Norah did, but in the back of my mind I kept wondering if Ethan would end up being a major plot twist.
The more I read the more I started to get annoyed with some of the dialogue. What moments before had felt sweet and endearing, became oversaturated and soured on the page. It left me uninterested in the conversations being had when every other sentence ended with something to the effect of ‘baby, I love you so much’ for no apparent reason. I think the romance could have been so much more powerful and compelling if we had seen more actions displaying the characters’ love for one another, and less of the characters telling us repeatedly how they felt.
While the romance in this novel didn’t live up to the initial hype, I think it has the potential to work for many other readers. I also personally felt like this novel would have been more digestible in smaller doses as three separate novellas. The first 150 pages of this book would have received a 5 star rating from me if it existed as a novella. The giddy anticipation of watching two brand new characters meet, fall in love, and live their day to day lives going on dates all over town was everything I could have asked for in a romance. Add in the suspense that only one of them knows Norah’s a vampire. Sold. Take my money.
As it stands now, the novel has two other major plot twists that would stand on their own as the second and third novellas respectively. I’m not saying the author has to do anything with their work based on my review alone, but I see the potential this story has, and think it would be so much fun to read quick little snippets of Norah and Ethan’s lives moving forward.
Overall I think the first half of this book, and the major event in the last few chapters, were the strongest points. The dialogue at times didn’t seem inherently natural or conversational, which left me disinterested in actually listening to what the characters were saying. There are some interesting supernatural vampire talents and lore that is explored through Norah and her lifestyle, and I see how that could be expanded upon and explored in future novels.
I’d be very curious to know what other readers and reviewers thought about this novel, since I just can’t put my finger on whether it’s me? Am I the problem? I really wanted to fall in love with this story and the characters. There is a book for every reader, and a reader for every book. This one just might not be for me.