The second book in the Georgina Kincaid series by Richelle Mead takes the foundation of Succubus Blues and builds a strong and confident urban fantasy novel out of something far more labored and predictable. Mead avoids overplaying her hand by layering several plotlines together to disguise the various clues that add up to a very fun and rewarding read.
Georgina Kincaid, a succubus indebted to the forces of hell, is torn between her love for the mortal author Seth Mortensen and her duty and powers as a succubus. If she makes any intimate contact with the man she loves, she’ll sap away his lifespan and send him on the path to eternal damnation. If she tells him everything about her renewed efforts to condemn more souls, she might lose him forever. Of course this becomes a serious issue when her friends and coworkers begin to act irrationally and with heightened abilities. That’s also when the incubus she trained, Bastien, walks back into her life asking for help in the biggest target either has corrupted in centuries.
Richelle Mead improves upon the already enjoyable voice of Georgina Kincaid. The backstory–a succubus alive for over two millenia–allows Georgina to be far more knowledgeable and accomplished without automatically turning into a Mary Sue. It also allows diversions into her centuries of existence that flesh out the mythology of the world and the experiences that define this current iteration of Georgina. You never get the chance to forget that our friendly narrator is a damned character capable of massive destruction, but you quickly grow to like her because of her intelligence, her spirit, and her flaws.
Succubus on Top is not the most eventful novel. It’s a simple diversion. There are so many stories wrapped around each other as camouflage that none take on too much weight or importance.
The biggest factor in the book is Georgina’s relationship with Seth and it’s not the most compelling part of the novel. There’s nothing wrong with the romance; it’s just the most traditional narrative element in a much more inventive novel. This is a series where a succubus hangs out with vampires, an imp, and an angel for fun while fighting against the nightmarish bureaucracies of hell and retail. The lead character can literally transform into anyone she wants and have her way with anyone in the world so long as she doesn’t accidentally step on someone else’s turf or steal someone else’s mark. Mead crafts fine tension from Georgina’s supernatural abilities in relation to a steady relationship but the mundane realities of mortal love pale in comparison to the pageant of monsters and gods vying for control of earth.
Still, Succubus on Top is a marked improvement over the original novel that will probably drive you to continue further in the series. It’s a quick urban fantasy read with enough new ideas to keep an experienced genre reader interested.
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