Posted by Harry Markov
Urban fantasy has been the vault to host all the vampire lore in the world. Novels in the genre always rotate around the gravitational centre called vampires. Even though people complain to have reached a saturation point with vampire trivia, I can’t help myself but indulge in new titles. For me every author adds a new nuance to the infinite mythos and play a completely new chess game. I find that “Nightwalker” by Jocelynn Drake has something going on as a first installment in the Dark Days series. But before I delve into the more analytical aspects regarding the review, shell we start with a small synopsis from the cover blub.
“For centuries Mira has been a nightwalker–an unstoppable enforcer for a mysterious organization that manipulates earth-shaking events from the darkest shadows. But elemental mastery over fire sets her apart from others of her night-prowling breed…and may be all that prevents her doom.
The foe she now faces is human: the vampire hunter called Danaus, who has already destroyed so many undead. For Mira, the time has come to hunt…or be hunted.
But in a dimension just beyond the world’s boundaries, a banished race stirs dangerously, hungry for power, for domination, for vengeance.
Already a protective seal has been breached: already blood flows like a river through the world’s great cities.
And only the collaboration of two sworn enemies can save humankind…and its feral brethren.”
Considering the fact not many readers enjoy their reviews to be filled with spoilers I will try to refrain from too many details. What separate “Nightwalker” from the majority of other vampire novels are the scope and the stage, upon which the story develops. As far as urban fantasy novels go the biggest area combed for an story has been some interstate traveling from what I have gathered, even if there have been trips to other dimensions. Drake knows that to have a world threatening situation, saving it should involve traveling around the world. Eventual scenery for fighting scenes becomes Savannah, US; Egypt and England, while flashbacks involve the island of Cyprus and Machu Pichu. The diversity and the constant motion create a different brand of excitement that enhances the suspense the story brings to the table, not to mention that is a breath of fresh air in the genre.
To move down the positive checklist, we have a controversial main character in sense of vampire biology. As it turns out Mira has the ability to manipulate fire, which is one of the fastest ways to erase a vampire from the face of the Earth. In terms of behavior, Mira can be tough and physically primal, but relies on intelligence. Due to her nightmarish past suffers from a very powerful state of psychosis, which leaves her vulnerable to certain enemies.
Unlike other heroines she doesn’t desire to be the center of attention, take matters into her own hands and let pride take her body’s steering wheel. Such a calculative aspect rooted into her characters makes her easier to be identified with and much more likeable, because she has obvious fears that she is quite aware of, much like most people in their common lives.
While we are still in the character department it is worth mentioning the hunter Danaus, who is a magical being unlike any other in Mira’s world. Abiding the urban fantasy formula for novel writing Danaus is the mortal enemy number one from the human world and Mira shares with him a mutual I-want-to-kill-you relationship, even that seems to change over the course as both explore each others’ worlds. Proficient at hand to hand combat and with the ability to boil a victim’s blood, while it is in the veins, he is a mysterious figure and another reasons to stay tuned with future installments in the series.
To continue with other successful bull’s eyes Miss Drake has hit, probably the best would be the existence of the naturi and the bori. These two new races give a new dimension to the human world and add new shades of mythology. The naturi is a race divided in five clans: the Animal, the Light, the Earth, the Water and the Wind, and despite its closeness to nature, they are everything else but peaceful. Sole purpose in “Nightwalker” is to obliterate the existing world and wish away humanity like it never existed along with the vampires. Something that Mira doesn’t want to come to fruition.
I personally enjoyed how the accent falls on the relationships in vampire society to masters and subordinates. Vampires can be cruel to their “children” and a fight for survival inside their numbers and the desperate battle for independence are top priorities on the daily agenda. As the story progresses, the reader is well assured that even if a certain moral code exists in the vampire society, there can hardly exist trace of real connection to one another as it is demonstrated with treacherous back stabbing, while what seemed a sadistic dominance was meant to protect. These ripples in behavior pattern turn vampires into more complex predators. Something I thoroughly enjoyed.
However not everything was executed perfectly. I compliment Miss Drake for not turning Mira and Danaus into love birds in the first book, but the overall hints point to that direction, even though all those two want to do is to save the world so that they could each other in peace. A statement made too many times to not elude me as repetitive. The element of him actually changing his opinion about vampires at this stage of human history, considering that he is a bit immortal and present since the Roman Empire is also unbelievable. He has lived more than most First Bloods and yet he has to encounter vampires as more complex right now. Maybe vampires have evolved since then in their feeding manners, but it’s not mentioned with great detail either. As far as I get it one of the timeless principles in vampire etiquette is to leave the donor living, so this is another controversial point for me.
And even though the idea for the naturi is quite captivating, I wished they would be more involved in the story as enemies wielding the elements at a higher state. The novel creates a controversial imagery of them. First they are the amazing spell casters that can free their queen using dangerous magic and can eradicate vampires and vampires really fear them, but yet when it comes down to it they die pretty easily. Maybe they aren’t spirits that can control the elements. Maybe they only exist thanks to the elements. Whatever the explanation the first book doesn’t do them justice enough.
However one must note that this is a first installment and aims to set the stage for a promising bloodshed. Jocelynn Drake has arrived and she has brought the whole Apocalypse on a leash.
What Others Are Saying:
1) Darque Reviews [instituation for Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance]
2) Dear Author [the sensitive towards all literary romance novels Janes]
3) Musings of a Bookish Kitty [friend and reviewer Wendy R. and her broad tastes]
4) Blog Critics Magazine [the eloquent opinion in the field]
5) Love Vampires [the new discovery in love with vampire fiction]