Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5
Sculptor Rhys Matherton’s life is a disaster. His beloved mother has died, leaving him her entire fortune and a shocking bit of information. His father, the one who rejected him because of his homosexuality, isn’t his father after all. So grieving, inundated with people asking for money and favors, Rhys flees the States and takes a cruise, hoping the isolation will give him time to recover and consider what he is going to do next. But on board Rhys’ life changes forever when he spills a drink on a handsome stranger. An apology turns into a night of hot sex and then something more. This stranger makes Rhys feel alive. It’s as if he has been waiting to this man to come into his life to complete him.
Silas Quint has boarded this ocean liner for a mission, to hunt down and destroy the Soulless, vampires traveling the Atlantic to feed on the souls of the passengers. Silas doesn’t need any distractions but he feels a connection to Rhys that won’t be denied. After a night of incredible sex, Silas explains he’s a forest fae, something Rhys has a hard time believing until Silas proves it. But Rhys too has a surprise for Silas and for himself as well. One that will have impact on Silas’ mission and change both of their lives forever, if only they can survive this voyages and the vampires hunting them both.
Close Quarter is the first book by Anna Zabo and what a book it is! I couldn’t put this one down from the moment I started reading it, I was totally absorbed by Zabo’s story. Her characters, her plot and her world building, all marvelous. Every aspect of this story captured and held my attention from beginning to end,, and left me wanting so much more.
So many elements are in play here. First there is her world building. It’s terrific while still leaving plenty of room for enlargement and minutiae in the future books to come. We get just enough to make sense of the plot and events unfolding in the story which manages to combine the fae, angels, and vampires into one cohesive plot. I loved how Anna Zabo used familiar aspects of fae mythology, like the summer and winter courts, but then added her own layers to it. She did the same with the vampire lore as well.
Zabo’s vampires are not the benign creatures of other authors. Instead these vampires harken back to old Slovakian folklore , the Upyr. These are terrifying creatures, ripping hunks of flesh from their victims even as they devour their souls, truly dark beings. Allied against the dark are the Messengers and their servant, Silas Quint. That is a story I won’t spoil for you here but it is large in scope, equal to the aspect of evil Zabo has created for Close Quarter.
Silas and Rhys are a wonderful combination, equal parts magic, snark, and yes, love. Although the entire book takes place within a few days, the bond created between Silas and Rhys is absolutely believable as are their feelings towards each other. That I could buy into this case of instant love floored me and is due directly to the vivid descriptions by Zabo of their interactions and the fast paced events that happen aboard the ship. Silas and Rhys both question their reactions to each other and the emotional connection that snaps into place almost immediately. Again, the explanations are startling, even to the characters themselves and I loved the mythology the author has created to explain this connection and Rhys’ past. It works, its captivating, and it leaves you needing more of that background information.
In fact, Anna Zabo tosses in so many wonderful elements into the mixture that some are almost overlooked as the characters scrambles to stay alive and together. I say almost because as you read you will find yourself going back, returning to prior passages to look for additional clues or pertinent facts that you might have missed when certain elements are revealed in the story. One of those ‘how did I not see that coming” sort of moments. Because once one of these little revelations occur, then you will immediately want more information and it won’t be forthcoming, at least not in this book.
I contacted the author about any future stories in this universe and was delighted to hear that Zabo has two more books with Rhys and Silas sketched out, as well as one with Vasil Kutsera, an important secondary character here. This is a universe that cries our for its stories to be heard and Silas and Rhys make a wonderful start. I loved Close Quarter and think you will too. Consider this book highly recommended.
Cover art by April Martinez features some gorgeous models and that ship is a lovely addition.