Thursday, 3 October 2013

[REVIEW] Soulless by T. Baggins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Recommended by: Syfy
Recommended for: All M/M readers especially those who adores the vampire folklore.
Read from August 22 to September 25, 2013 — I own a copy

FIVE STARS for Outstanding Writing

I felt like I have just watched an amazing and beautifully crafted vampire blockbuster on the big screen. In fact, this is how I felt throughout my reading. It was like I am watching a movie instead of reading. The pace, tension and tone was perfect even for the big screen. How I wish it's a film.

The characters are alive, dynamic and very real to me. Nicholas, Bancroft, Grand-Mamma, Martha, Dr. Flowers and his nephew is living, breathing and walking this earth somewhere. That's an example how strong the characters' presence are in this book. So real they at times reminds me of people I know.

The two MCs has such contrasting personality, the suave Bancroft aka Ban was so perfect on the outside yet flawed and weak on the inside, so very unlike beautiful Nicholas aka Nicky who's so damaged and flawed on the outside yet stronger than any immortal beings on the inside. Nicky was righteous and courageous while Ban was corrupted and cowardly. Why would I say so? It's because...
Nicky has saved Martha twice and even refused to forsake her to the care of evil Sebastian when Ban selfishly proposed that notion to him in view of safeguarding their own happiness. Nicky was also adamant to save and protect the village of Maidenstone even at the cost of his own life.

Ban is a rather selfish being and would only make exception for Nicky but no one else. Make no mistake that he is evil and care for no one but his Nicky.
Ban had often fantasized about taking a human pet. Keeping him bound hand and foot, bleeding him slow and making him last for days, even weeks.
- Evil yet I still find him so sensual and alluring. He's such a sexy monster. It's a girls-likes-bad-boys thing.

Another reason why I adore Ban is his dirty sex talk. He had it down to the pat.
"But I'm safe from you. I have nothing to offer."
Ulwin grinned, animal in the depths of his eyes. "Do you not? I see one warm, wet hole between red lips. Wouldn't you love to taste my cock? Welcome it with your tongue?"
Nicholas gasped. He was dreaming. Dreaming....
"After that, I'll put you on your belly." Ban's long, cool fingers played over Nicholas's hand in a delicate yet startlingly intimate fashion. "Grease my staff and plow between your cheeks. Tell me the truth. Has any man filled you?"
"No," Nicholas whispered.
"I'm quite large." Ban's mouth found Nicholas's ear, his tongue tracing the lobe wetly, obscenely.
"You'll scream before I'm done. Scream and pray for release."
Nicholas tried to order Ulwin out, to condemn such filth with every fiber of his being. Instead he lifted his chin. Awaiting the kiss he feared he couldn't deny, he shivered when Ulwin cupped his face with both hands.

"Mind you... I fear my backside will ache for hours to come."
Ban raised up on his elbow for a peek. "Ah. Yes. Cream trickling from delicate Italian pastry."
"Meaning, if English law requires proof seed was transmitted, your arse condemns you."
"God damn you." Serafino started to rise.
"No, don't stir, I beg you." Ban held the mortal's shoulders as firmly as he dared. "It's lovely. The loveliest sight I've ever seen. In fact...."

- Ban's such a cheeky one and I like him all the more for it.

"No doubt. But did you enjoy that finger up your arse?"
Blushing, Nicholas kissed Ban again.
"Because I'm longing to press something up your arse. Long and stiff, yet gentle."

Oh, and Nicky can be a rather kinky one....
Transfixed, Nicholas had a sudden vision of himself: stripped to the waist, flesh cut in dozens of places, rivulets of blood decorating his cheeks, biceps, nipples. Offering himself as a feast, an unfolding banquet for all Ban's senses....
- Hhmm... I approved.

Sebastian the master and creator of Ban is a true sadist who achieves his sexual heights by inflicting untold pain and sufferings towards others especially his unfavored fledgling, Ban. To him, Ban is just a pretty face, a lowly peasant boy with inferior intelligence. A servant bound eternally to him to do his bidding and serves his needs.

The tortures Ban faced under his Master's tyranny was of unspeakable horror. Eventhough he would heal from the bodily wounds perfectly, his soul was forever wretched and corrupted by the fear and hatred towards his maker. It's a wonder how Ban could have survived for centuries together with his Master when to me, his existence was nothing short of hell-on-earth. A fire would have been a bless oblivion to end his misery.
Sometime in the wee hours, after the clock struck three, Ban managed to drag himself upstairs on hands and knees. After expending such effort, climbing into his bed seemed impossible, so he lay under it, curled into a ball. And there he slept, and did not sleep, and wept a little, keeping his hand pressed in his mouth to be certain no one heard.
- This was after his horrific punishment with the 'Phallus' which was in fact a thick oaken table leg used not to bash him with but to turn his innards to pulp. Sebastian is a very inventive bastard when it comes to torturing Ban.

There are two side characters which I liked very much. Both are strong willed woman and a tad eccentric. Grand-Mamma, Mrs. Parthenia Jane Robinson is such a fascinating and mysterious wise old woman. She is quick-witted and has a pretty sharp tongue. Somehow, she made me miss my late-grandmama which I loved dearly. Martha on the other hand is quite the little Einstein and a peculiar young woman. Sometimes the things she says makes me question if she has any social communication disorder like Asperger? Lol. Mind you, she does says the darnedest things.
"What do you mean by love? You mean, you want to stick your cock in me?" Martha asked.

THE VAMPIRES (the term used here was Vârkolak):
I have enjoyed reading this author's brand of vampires. They are superior, intimidating and evil, yet they are somewhat vulnerable and not entirely immortal or indestructible. Fire is their biggest weakness even the Sun failed to compete with - quite the opposite of Anne Rice's vampires.

Ms. Baggins' vampires has an interesting twist to its origins which differs much from Rice's vampires that has an ancient Egyptian root. I was pleasantly surprised by it. I would say it's a nice touch indeed.

Another point of interest is that Ms. Baggins' vamps does not have fangs. I am unsure if I like this missing attribute as I have always find them to be sexier with a set of keen pointed tooth and it is a defining characteristics of a vampire although they are some in other stories depicted without it too. I particularly like retractable ones. If you have watched Byzantium (2012) one of the latest vampire film, you would have noticed that the vampires in it lacks fangs too (I haven't watch it yet but knew of it). They uses retractable thumb-talon to pierce the victim's skin. Ban and his lot had to utilize a razor-sharp prongs to seal the deal. Somewhat troublesome isn't it? Not that elegant or erotic anymore. I still think Rice's vampires rocks! Their feeding was highly sensual and the vamps would telepathically bonds with their victims too. It's like a two-way exchange of intimate thoughts - very much like a bridge of memories between them.

It took me a while to be immersed in the story. This might be me having to adjust and get comfortable with the olden days English tongue. Truthfully, I had only started to get interested and engaged when Ban took Nicky as his personal plaything or you can say... when things started to get hot, heavy and sweaty. Despite Nicky being ill-equipped, their lovemaking was still highly stimulating if not even more so. Ban's skillful lovemaking makes Nicky loose himself so wantonly. It was a beautiful sight to see Nicky melts in the embrace of Ban.

There are frequent exchange of intellectual debates on philosophies, theologies even the scientific aspect was discussed in the story making it all the more compelling to read. Even the plot itself was saturated by these theories.

The highly remarked upon tortures and rapes was not gratuitously inserted for the shock-value. It was appropriately handled and not as graphic as most think it was. The tortures was mostly shown after it has taken place or was fade to black soon. There wasn't detailed description of how the victim suffered during the ordeal.

I am not saying that these scenes are mild or weak as I most certainly do not underestimate a reader's power of imagination. With the right words and suggestions, a whole new terror could be created in our own mind to piece the whole scene together however gory we wanted it to be. Sometimes, I would prefer telling more than showing when it comes to such scenes as I love to experience it with my own over imaginative mind. I could fill in all those blanks flawlessly with much pleasure.

The plot was thick in this story yet it flowed smoothly thanks to the superb writing skill of Ms. Baggins. There's one key mystery throughout the story that would determine not only the fate of both MCs but the whole Maidenstone village as well. I am excited that my guess of what the 'Vessel' means isn't too far from its mark. Brilliant aren't I? I am certain the Vessel would keep readers guessing actively throughout the reading process.

There are a couple of flashbacks stories and it was handled very well too. I really enjoyed reading about Serafino and Arabella, Simon and Hob. I was horrified by what befell...
...Arabella when she was captured and tortured by Sebastian's fanatically loyal Brethren.
It was the most disturbing event of all that had happened. Even Serafino's...
Spoiler: fate paled in comparison. At least, his death was considered swift unlike Arabella's drawn out sufferings.

I am curious as to why so many readers objected to....
Martha having children with Ban? As far as I know, Emily was fathered by Sebastian, only Peter was the actual offspring of Ban. Am I right? Because, I am a little confused by Emily's parentage. She was said to mirror Sebastian's look, so I deduce that Sebastian took Martha's virginity and begets a child due to that union.

I know some might view Ban having such a relationship with Martha was a betrayal to Nicky, but to me it was realistic turn of event and much forgivable. It wasn't an easy feat to wait for centuries all alone for that small possibility of the love of your life to be reincarnated and for that chance in a million of finding him again. I actually felt thankful to Martha for being there for Ban to ease his loneliness, keeping his hope alive and strengthen his willpower to continue his existence without Nicky by his side.

Some of the readers reasoned that this shouldn't happen with Martha as she is asexual. Asexuality does not affect a person's desire to have their own family. They need love too and know love just like all of us do. They just don't have the sexual appetite of the norms. Most of them would engage in sexual activity despite lacking the desire or sexual attraction, due to variety of reasons, such as wanting to please a romantic partners or even the desire to have children of their own.

I really didn't expect Nicky to have that ending after his final confrontation with Sebastian. As I thought...
...there would definitely be a brilliant plot twist to save Nicky's arse ever since his Grand-Mamma predicted his demise, so that he and Ban could have the happiness they deserved. I was a little sad that the new Nicky doesn't remember Ban or their prior relationships (yes plural for relationship makes more sense here) yet his last comments gave me hope.

I have a feeling that Ban and Nicky are true soulmates, hence they kept finding each other every lifetime although one of them are earthbound forever and destined to be the one waiting and pining for his true love's return.

In the end, that unexpected ending works out pretty well too. I like Jean-Paul *winks* Such a succulent morsel *smacks lips*.

I am ever so glad I decided to read this book despite the off-putting book cover. The cover was so uninspiring and boring and I especially disliked the look of that two male models. Blargh! They absolutely CANNOT represent the Bancroft and Nicholas in my heart or in the book.

If not for Syfy's enthusiasm over this book, I would have just missed this treasure due to my aversion towards that bookcover. Hence I shall kiss the ground Syfy walks on and follow her breadcrumbs diligently from now on. *wide grin*

I love the chemistry between Ban and Nicky, they are perfect together. How I enjoyed Ban's cheeky teasing of Nicky - I see it as a loving display of affection.

It has been such a long time since I last read a vampire book almost on par with my favorite author, Anne Rice's work. I am now thirsting for more of such stories. Maybe I should go re-read my beloved Vampire Chronicles series by Anne Rice just to calm this newly rekindled blood sucking craving of mine.

The book has a harmonious mixture of historical romance, horror, supernatural, thriller and mystery, creating a dark, chilling yet erotically spellbinding story that intoxicate the mind of the readers.

I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book to all M/M readers especially those who adores the vampire folklore.

The accused bookcover:

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