REVIEW: The Calling – M.D. Neu

The Calling - M.D. Neu

Genre: Paranormal, Romance

LGBTQ+ Category: Gay

Reviewer: Ulysses, Paranormal Romance Guild

NineStar Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords | Goodreads

About The Book

Being a nobody isn’t Duncan Alexander’s life goal, but it’s worked for him. He has a nondescript job, a few good friends, and overall he’s content. That’s until one fateful trip to San Jose, California, where he is “Called” to meet the mysterious Juliet de Exter. Juliet is a beautiful, wealthy, powerful Immortal who is undertaking The Calling-a search for a human to join her world of Immortals. Inexplicably, Duncan’s calling is more dangerous than any of the Immortals, even Juliet, ever thought it would be.

There is more to this nobody, this only child of long-deceased parents, than anyone thought. When Duncan experiences uncontrollable dreams of people he doesn’t know and places he hasn’t been, Juliet and the other Immortals worry. Soon, his visions point to a coven of long-dead witches. The dreams also lead Duncan to his one true love. How will Duncan navigate a forbidden romance with an outcast Immortal? How will he and the others keep the balance between the Light and Dark, survive vicious attacks, and keep the humans from learning who they truly are? More importantly, who is this implacable foe Duncan keeps seeing in his dreams?

The Review

Nothing like a good riff on the vampire tradition, adding twists and turns along the way to keep you guessing until the very end. 

Duncan is just a regular guy who finds himself mysteriously vacationing in San Jose, California. Mysteriously, because he doesn’t have any friends or particular reason to want to go to San Jose. I confess that Duncan seems a little dim to me at times; which is to say that he’s sort of ordinary. And I guess that’s the point. 

Oh, and his name won’t be Duncan by the end, but that’s one of the surprises. 

Who is the beautiful Juliet de Exter, living in her vast mansion on a sprawling estate in Los Altos? Why does Duncan, a young man somewhat bored with his life, feel compelled to pay a visit to her, along with a group of other perfectly ordinary strangers? 

For all the quirky setting and even quirkier set-up, this is a familiar paranormal plot involving politics, history, and an average Joe who finds out he’s not so average after all. Neu has conjured up an action-filled plot with a complicated back-story that manages to keep surprising the reader at each reveal. He’s also filled the book with intriguing characters that add to the texture of the hidden world into which Duncan has stumbled. Victor and Kirtus are special favorites of mine, each of them important in revealing something special about Duncan. 

I wish M.D. Neu’s writing was a little more elegant, because he’s got a great imagination as far as the narrative goes. I totally bought into the mystique of Madame de Exter, in spite of moments when Neu’s description of her world makes her sounds like a cast member of “Real Housewives of Los Altos,” or maybe Krystal Carrington in the original “Dynasty” TV series. I really want Juliet to be like Cora Grantham in “Downton Abbey.” 

What I was particularly grateful for was that, after an explosive ending, the author manages to slip in a cliffhanger without making it annoying. In fact, the finale is a great set up for the second book in the series, “The Called,” which is the reason I bought this book in the first place. 

The Reviewer

Ulysses Grant Dietz grew up in Syracuse, New York, where his Leave It to Beaver life was enlivened by his fascination with vampires, from Bela Lugosi to Barnabas Collins. He studied French at Yale, and was trained to be a museum curator at the University of Delaware. A curator since 1980, Ulysses has never stopped writing fiction for the sheer pleasure of it. He created the character of Desmond Beckwith in 1988 as his personal response to Anne Rice’s landmark novels. Alyson Books released his first novel, Desmond, in 1998. Vampire in Suburbia, the sequel to Desmond, is his second novel.

Ulysses lives in suburban New Jersey with his husband of over 41 years and their two almost-grown children.

By the way, the name Ulysses was not his parents’ idea of a joke: he is a great-great grandson of Ulysses S. Grant, and his mother was the President’s last living great-grandchild. Every year on April 27 he gives a speech at Grant’s Tomb in New York City.

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