The Mark of Cain by A.D. Seely. Her blog
Warning: Spoilers ahead. If you haven’t read this book, you have been warned so don’t come crying to me when you read it and get pissed off all over again.
First let me say that I love a tale that takes a biblical story and turns it on its head in an entertaining and enlightening way. I’m not religious, so I don’t have a proper perspective on the wonders in the Bible; it’s all fresh and new to me. A modern-day re-hash of the story of history’s first murderer seemed like a good premise for an entertaining story.
From the Amazon blurb:
History as we know it is a lie. An intricate web of half-truths and falsifications spun by the most infamous murderer in history: the immortal, Cain, son of Adam and Eve. All so the truth of him and his power can stay in the shadows, with every oblivious mortal his pawn. The Mark of Cain, a paranormal romantic suspense novel, reveals the truth.
After murdering his brother, Abel, Cain was unjustly cursed by God. When the curse becomes too unbearable for him and he faces immortality alone, Cain puts his energy into claiming the Earth as his own. Now, after thousands of years living his life as some of history’s greatest conquerors, the ruthless first son of Adam finally has a controlling interest in the world with the strongest governments secretly answering to him.
Tired of the bloodshed and manipulation that has brought him to this point, Cain is ready to relax. But God has sent someone to challenge his interests: a young woman named Hara, whose very life was foretold centuries ago.
To keep God from victory, Cain sets out to woo and corrupt Hara, planning to kill her once she is no longer God’s Chosen One. At first, as she edges off the path leading toward the fulfillment of the prophecy, Cain can’t help but feel smug. However, the closer he gets to her, the more he finds that Hara’s charitable presence causes him to feel shame for the first time in his long life, and soon he finds that he no longer wishes her harm. But the prophecy is clear on this; she has to die for him to win. When it comes to her end, will he be as selfish as he has always been, or will he sacrifice himself for the love of his very long life?
Ah-hem. The first problem I have with this tale is that Anahara, raised in a Catholic orphanage after the murder of her parents (Cain is responsible,) is a twenty-three-year-old virgin working at a night club in LA where the dress code is basically a black slip who is so naive that she even spells S-E-X in her private thoughts. Oh, sure, she’s kissed a few boys, but she never felt anything but friendship for them and it never went any further. It goes without saying she’s saving herself for marriage.
Also, she has gorgeous blue eyes, blond hair that shimmers in moonlight down to her ass and a body that makes every man’s head turn and dick hard. Of course.
Anahara is going through her life, earning a living, waiting for adventure and her Prince Charming. She doesn’t drink or do drugs (EVER) act promiscuous, curse and she’s charming and kind to everyone she meets, making frequent trips Back East to visit the orphanage and bring gifts and hope to the children living there.
She’s a fucking saint. Uncorrupted and pure in every way.
Enter Cain, only he doesn’t tell her his real name, occupation, financial status, beliefs, opinions, or anything, really. He has searched for her for 500 years because of a prophesy – Anahara (chosen for her name alone – that’s all anyone knows about her identity) is to be Cain’s downfall, according to the prophesy. Cain decides to corrupt and kill Anahara in order to piss God off enough that he will finally end Cain’s misery.
In this story, Cain’s “mark” is a tattoo that extends from his neck down his right arm and side, kinda like a cool tribal tattoo, nothing at all weird about that, right? Naturally Cain is drop-dead gorgeous and irresistible to all women. Even Hara, who has never felt arousal before (really? At 23 she doesn’t have a clue? In 2012?) is suddenly overwhelmed with physical feelings for Cain, which she hides because they don’t even know each other.
Gah! So Cain begins his assault on all that is good in Hara, winning his way into her life with a staged robbery where he gets shot, cajoling her into drinking (he drugs her so she forgets) and sex (but he promises to marry her and convinces her that it’s HER idea in the first place.) He lies about what he does all day (plays puppet-master with world leaders, starting and preventing wars according to his own Master Plan) and how he feels about everything until she thinks he’s the Perfect Man and refuses to listen to her room mate and friends who think something is a bit off about Cain.
She invites him home to the orphanage to meet the people who made her what she is today. Cain has a confrontation with the priest, who is forbidden to reveal to Hara what her role in Cain’s life is. Seems no one can say anything to the victim because “god has a plan” and Cain must be allowed to run free until god chooses to stop him.
On and on it goes. Cain is despicable in his manipulations of Hara, turning her into a different person, but she always clings to her perception that there’s good in him if he would only give himself to his better side. She dreams constantly about her upcoming wedding and how it will make her life (and Cain’s) perfect at last. Puke.
Finally, when Cain has decided he’s corrupted Hara enough, it’s time to kill her. He feels guilty and doesn’t want to do it himself, so he hires one of his thugs to do the deed.
BUT at the last minute he changes his mind! He can’t lose her – she’s the person who makes his whole history have meaning! She completes him!
The hired thug is very good at his job and Hara is shot as ordered. Cain runs to her side, tears falling on her face, and declares his love for her. He raises his face to the sky and begs god’s forgiveness, tells him to take him instead, only let Hara live!
And, lo, a miracle happens. The clouds part, a beam of light flashes down, illuminating Hara’s beautiful hair, and she breathes again. Her first words to Cain are about his eyes – they were black when she met him, but now they’re a soft gray. His tattoo is gone, too. Seems god has decided that this is Cain’s last life – he will at last be able to age and die like a normal mortal, presumably wrapped in the arms (and long, blond hair) of his One True Love.
Whew! The writing overall is good, the story moves right along, the characters exchange some good dialogue, but it falls apart for me there. What we have is yet another story where the man behaves abominably, consciously corrupting an innocent and that idiot innocent falls for him hook, line and sinker, even to dying at his whim, for his agenda.
I can’t tell you how much these stories piss me off. We’ve all read them, or watched the movie – lovable rogue turns good because of the love of a virtuous woman. No matter what he does, she loves him and stands by him, even dying if necessary to prove her love.
Srsly? Stories like these are one reason young women get sucked into the clutches of sociopaths/psychopaths/narcissists – we want the romantic happy ending. We’ve been exposed to it over and over and if it can work in fiction, it can work for us, right? I mean, every story has a germ of reality in it, right? If we love hard enough the sun will shine and we’ll get our fairy tale.
This myth is everywhere and the monsters use it to their advantage. What we don’t need is more versions of it disguised as modern fiction. I don’t want a happy ending; I want Cain to get his ass kicked and Hara to go on to live a full life without a sociopath dictating her every move. Actually, had I written this book Hara would not have been so fucking stupid at 23, fercryin’outloud!
Who writes the stories where the sociopath gets what he deserves in the end?