Susan Squires – "The Companion"

27 Oct

GENRE: Romance / Paranormal
PUBLISHED: St. Martin’s Paperbacks, 2005

The back blurb:
“Ian Rufford was captured, enslaved, and then abandoned in the lonely dunes of Egypt’s desert. His tormentor was a woman of magnificent beauty … and the blackest of souls. Now, Ian prays for a death that will not come. Only after his rescue does he begin to realize how he has changed. But he understands very little. Just that he is carrying something strange in his blood known only as ‘The Companion.’
Elizabeth Rochewell’s home was Egypt. After her father’s death, however, she was sent home to live a conventional life in London. Onboard ship, she finds herself drawn to her mysterious traveling companion, Ian Rufford. He awakens feelings in her that disturb and tantalize her senses. But he hides a shocking secret that Beth can only begin to unravel.”

Susan Squires’s The Companion is best described as a “Regency Vampire Novel” (like the sticker on the cover says). To call it a romance (like on the spine of the book) is quite misleading in my opinion, because the focus of the story is on Ian Rufford, the hero, and his coming to terms with what he became. The romance takes a backseat to that.

Ian and Beth meet on a ship bound for England. The voyage to England means different, if not opposite things to Ian and Beth: Ian hopes to get his life back there, whereas Beth looses her life with this voyage to England. I liked this opposition quite a lot.

Ian is a dark and troubled character. He suffers (and suffered through) a lot until he can reconcile himself with his fate. Beth on the other hand is a standard “I’m-ugly-no-man-will-want-me” heroine. She does (of course) something (stupid) early on and then blames other people for the results. I found this a bit charring because Beth is described as intelligent and level-headed. She even acts this way, too. So this point made her character inconsistent for me, but as the novel progressed this feeling faded. Overall, she’s a rather static character. Her only development, apart from something that is a spoiler, is her realization that she is beautiful (in her own way). Naturally, this comes with the help of the hero.

The emphasis in this novel is clearly on the development of Ian’s character, and because of this it is not a action-packed novel. This changes in the end, after Ian has accepted his fate, and then the novel reminded me sometimes of the Indiana-Jones movies. Before that, there is angst coupled with many flashbacks into Ian’s past. These flashbacks tell how Ian came to be what he is and they are dark and graphic.

Susan Squires’s The Companion is not for the squeamish. It really is more a novel about vampirism than it is a romance. I especially liked Squires’s explanation for vampires – it has an interesting twist that alludes to another esoteric myth. Very nice.

Would I recommend this novel? Yes.

Would I read this novel again? Probably yes.

Grade: 4 / 5


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