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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Relapse by Steven Cortinas is the fifth addition to the author's incredibly well-received speculative fiction Legacy series, preceded by The Illegal, Private Ivy, The Shadow War, and The Ventriloquist. Cortinas' Legacy universe is expansive enough so that each book reads as a stand-alone. Relapse is an exceptional new adventure that moves among the living and the undead with a brilliant anti-hero: an alcoholic vampire who, gosh darn it, just wants to do the right thing for once. Non-vampire Jillian is a trophy girlfriend who has everything, but when she meets vampire Charles at their AA meeting, she realizes she really doesn't have everything. And she very much wants everything. Told from alternating points of view, the unfurling of Charles' life and the lives of others who are eternal blood-suckers are served up with a side of questionable white powder to show Jillian what she is definitely NOT missing.
“Hey, if I can save five for every one I kill, I can sleep at night…maybe even without alcohol.”
“You’ll forgive me if I don’t quote you on that.”
Sorry guys, I am totally going to quote you on that. Relapse is the third book I have read in the Legacy series, having read The Ventriloquist after it was recommended, and The Illegal because I wanted to. It is incredible to watch the evolution and maturity of a writer happen in real time, and Steven Cortinas gives us that. The Illegal is great. The Ventriloquist is outstanding. Relapse is out of this world, even before it gave me zombies. Cortinas writes character-driven novels, harnessing the independent nature of each voice that tells us their version of events, and balancing intelligent narrative with witty dialogue to mold the plot to them, and not the other way around. Another aspect of the Cortinas brand of storytelling is the incorporation of social issues in a way that does not hide how much disdain we have for them. Police brutality, directly and indirectly, is woven into the fabric of the vampires' storied past. Jillian's choice came as a surprise, given the lead-up, but so too was the continuation of a battle that is bigger than any one character. Very, very highly recommended.