Podcast Review #119: Heku

Title: Heku
Author: T.M. Nielsen
Genre: vampire love story
Released: 28 July 2011
Located: Podiobooks, iTunes
Formats Available: podcast and free ebook available through all the regular channels
Rating: R for violence and adult content

Occasionally, I get a query on my Twitter stream from a friend asking if I’ve listened to a particular story they’re trying to decide whether to listen to or not. This is exactly the case with Heku. I was asked about it by Micahel Simpkins. I thought I would do him a favor and give it a listen.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: Chevalier has never been told no. For thousands of years he’s sat on the Equites Council, ruling body of his heku faction, and for thousands of years his every order has been followed immediately and without question, until now.

One of the most important rules of the heku, is that no one is to feed from unwilling donors. Following a tip that a young mortal woman is being brutally attacked by his own kind, he seeks her out and immediately begins to experience unnatural feelings for the woman.

Emily, a beautiful rancher from Montana, has spent her entire life being violently attacked by beings she assumed were vampires. It isn’t until she meets Chevalier that she learns of her startling family history, a history that immediately throws her into the volatile world of the heku.

In a bid to protect her, Chevalier moves Emily into his isolated coven, which marks her as a prime target for the Valle and the Encala, enemy factions of the heku. Emily fights to fit into the militaristic world of the heku as her head-strong personality and independent ways turn their perfectly balanced world on end. She immediately befriends Kyle, a heku from Chevalier’s coven, and together they find Emily a niche among the immortal.

Emily’s violent past interferes with Chevalier’s plans, and he must first undo what her abusive ex-husband did before he can convince her how much he cares about her, and how much she’s worth to his faction. Chevalier’s growing feelings for Emily are unnatural to his kind, and must be hidden from the rest of the Equites Faction if he’s to remain a formidable part of their Council.

His jealous tendencies rage as Emily gets closer to Kyle, and both heku struggle to make her realize how important she is to the faction and how endangered she now is. (Stolen from Podiobooks.com)

Production: The production of Heku is nothing special, but it isn’t terrible either. It is simply the story, without any layering or added effects. On the positive side, there are no environmental noises or repeated lines. Nothing to get in the way of, or add to the story. Each episode opens and closes with a sampling of a song that the author credits in each ep.

Grade: B/B-

Cast: Heku is a self read by the author. The author does an adequate job of voicing her characters. I have no idea of the age of the Ms. Nielsen, though she sounds relatively young. This is to her advantage as her heroine is in her early 20’s and all the rest of the characters are ageless.

Grade: B

Story: Emily is a young woman who has many wonderful qualities. She is breathtakingly beautiful with red hair and green eyes. She is slender and athletic and an accomplished equestrian and animal lover. She is also vampire bait. Her blood draws vampires. The sweetness of it is intoxicating. She believes this is normal and everyone experiences much the same. She believes her abusive husband can turn them to ash, when in reality she does this herself. Yes. She is indeed special.

Grade: F or a charitable D-

Verdict: If you’re a fan of Twilight (yes, Mae.. you ,^) ) you might as well download this now. Ms. Nielsen either met that perfect storm of ideas with Ms. Meyer in isolation, or she was greatly inspired by her. Seriously, Twilight fans, download this one now. If you don’t like Heku it will probably be because you feel Ms. Nielsen ripped off your favorite series. However, Twilight fans, you might as well quit reading this review now.

For everyone else, this is the most miserable story I’ve ever heard in podiobook form. The characters are derivative. They are ridiculously and unashamedly hedonistic to the extent that they manipulate and abuse the ones they reportedly love.

There are no werewolves here, but that didn’t stop Ms. Nielsen from throwing in an (entirely unneeded) third person into the romantic tension she tried to create. I say tried, because it didn’t work for me. I truly hated all the characters and found myself yelling at the audio in my ears “DIE YOU IDIOTS DIE”. Yes, to the heroes. Blessedly, the story is relatively short at only 16 episodes. That is 8 hours of my life (at least) that I would have rather spent at the dentist.

Emily is content to be manipulated and believes her abuse to be her fault. Wait. Maybe that isn’t her fault. Maybe her idiot of a husband Keith beat that belief into her. Well then, it would be the duty of the new love interest and boss Heku to help her discover her own worth. Well, he doesn’t. He commits further acts of abuse on her person in several situations where she displeases him. She is weak. She has no value except what he gives her. If Bella made you angry, Emily is going to piss you off.

And yes, I do realize the Heku aren’t truly vampires. They’re just immortals that were once human (well, most anyway), live on human blood, dislike sunlight, and possess super human speed (though they can’t outrun a horse). Obviously, not truly vampires at all. What was I thinking?

Heku is the first of eight (yes, really) books in the Heku series. All of them can be found on Amazon.com. I see the second is also released as a podiobook.

Mike, as penance you should listen to both of them. With your daughter. I expect an in depth character analysis of each.

The rest of you non-Twilight fans, remember to stay away from this one.

If you loved Heku tell me why. Warning though, I will debate this one on anything other than personal preference. And of course, that is primarily why I hated it.

Disclosure: I’ve never had any contact with Ms. Nielsen. Nothing was received in return for this review.

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