Thursday, 11 February 2010

Review: Midnight's Daughter by Karen Chance

Midnight’s Daughter by Karen ChanceMidnight’s Daughter by Karen Chance – WARNING! I cannot review this book without spoiling Chance’s first series, the Cassandra Palmer series. Do not read any further if you haven’t read up to at least book two, Claimed by Shadows, if you plan on reading the series and don't want to be spoiled.

Dorina Basarab is a dhampir, the daughter of a vampire and a human woman. Subject to uncontrollable rages, most dhampirs are born barking mad and live very short, very violent lives. So for five hundred years, Dory has been fighting to maintain her sanity by unleashing her homicidal tendencies on those demons and vampires who deserve killing. But now Dory’s vampire father has come back into her life. Her uncle Dracula, notorious even among vampires for his cruelty and murderous ways, has escaped from prison, and her father wants Dory to work with the gorgeous vampire dueling champion Louis-Cesare to put him back there. Vampires and dhampirs are mortal enemies, and Dory prefers to work alone. But Dracula is the only thing on earth that truly scares her, and when Dory has to go up against him, she’ll take all the help she can get... From Amazon UK

Most of my regular readers will know by now just how much of a fan I am of Karen Chance’s Cassandra Palmer series. For those of you who don’t, a hell of a lot. So when I assumed recently, from a comment someone left on my review of Curse the Dawn – the fourth in the Cassie Palmer series – that the Dorina Basarab series is set in the same world, but following a different character, I was eager to get reading. I’ve just finished it, and I cannot begin to tell you just how incredibly amazing this book was!

Midnight’s Daughter has everything you would expect from a Karen Chance novel; action at every turn, mythical creatures by the bucket load, and some characters that you can’t help but love. The action in the book isn’t necessarily always fighting. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of that going on, but some of the events, the tasks I consider to be part of the action to; some things have to be done, and if they’re not done quick, there could be a lot of trouble. Some of these tasks are great for the plot of the story and learning about Dory as we go along, as well as keeping us keen to reading. As with all of Karen’s books, there’s action a plenty, and it keeps the book extremely fast paced.

Dory was a superb protagonist, though very different from Cassie; though Cassie is independant, like Dory, she has the misfortune of being the cause – or her station being the cause – of a lot of the trouble that comes her way, and she struggles, but Dory is one tough cookie, having skills of a warrior and the knowledge of, and sometimes use of, a magical arsenal that had be grinning like the cat had got the cream. She’s angry, she’s spunky, she’s funny, and she’s just amazing! I may just prefer her as a protagonist to Cassie, though I feel like I’m cheating to admit that.

We also come across some other characters we’ve come to know and love, and revisit some we haven’t met properly yet! Midnight’s Daughter can be read without having read the Cassie Palmer series, but I feel that having read them all I’m at a bit of an advantage as I know the world, and some of the characters, pretty well. So having read all of the books currently available in the Cassie Palmer series, I believe this book is set between Claimed by Shadows, book two, and Embrace the Night, book three. I have often wondered about two characters from the first two novels; in the first book, Touch the Dark, we meet Louis-Cesare, French senate member, master vampire, and duelling champion, and after that book, we hear nothing more of him. In Claimed by Shadow, towards the end of the book, we find out Cassie accidentally helped a very famous, very evil vampire escape from imprisonment, and then hear nothing more of it. Well, in this book, Louis-Cesare is back, and we get to actually meet Dracula! Oh, I can’t tell you just how awesome it was to have Louis-Cesare back, and get to know him better! Once he gets over his prejudices, he is just the most charming and gentlemanly guy ever, and I could quite easily fall in love with him. He is just one of the coolest male characters I have ever read! And Dracula – or Vlad – is just crazy scary. Midnight’s Daughter isn’t a horror, it’s still urban fantasy, but Drac is just terrifying in that what we learn about him through actual history.

One thing I love about Karen’s novels is how she is able to take people from history or legend and slip them into a novel and make it seamless! We’ve come across Jack the Ripper, Kit Marlow, Cleopatra, and the artist Raphael in the first series, and now we have Dracula. Of course, there have been a lot of books and films released about the legendary vampire, but there is so much history in this book, it’s hard to believe Vlad Tepes, or Vlad the Impaler as he’s more famously known, wasn’t actually a vampire. Mircea, Drac’s brother and Dory’s “Daddy”, is back in this book too, as well as Radu the Handsome, their youngest brother. We get in depth history about all these characters that, when I had a little bit of a look online myself for my own interest, seems pretty close to the truth. All these guys actually existed, the history of these guys told in this book is pretty close to the truth if not spot on – I’m no expert so I can’t say. Vlad the Impaler was an incredibly scary and disturbing person, and brought to life as Drac in this book, it’s just phenomenal.

Not only do we get a great amount of history, but we get into the head of the Mircea we know from the first series a whole lot more, and get to see him from a completely different perspective. He’s just fantastic! And Radu is just adorable! I know that may sound odd considering he’s Drac’s brother and all, but he is! There was talk about him in the Touch the Dark, but we actually get to meet him in this book, and he reminds me a bit of Myrnin from Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampire series, but not as freaky. The things that bother him at the worst times, and the way he expresses it, he’s just hilarious! I love him!

Finally, I want to talk about Fey; we’ve never really got much of a look in when it came to the Fey in the previous books, we had some in Claimed by Shadows, but not a huge deal. However, in Midnight’s Daughter, we get up close and personal with them, and the mythology for them is just brilliant! It comes very close to what I’ve read in various other faerie novels, but without bogging you down on info that’s going to make the book overly long, when they don’t play a massive part in the book in the great scheme of things. But you’ve got to love Olga, one of the trolls in the novel, she’s seriously funny with her abrupt ways. And Stinky is just adorable!

I really can’t tell you how amazing this book is! I think I much just prefer this one book to the whole of the Cassie Palmer series – though of course, I will continue to read them. If desire to read another book could be felt as something physical, it’s clawing through my veins right now for Death’s Mistress, the next in the series, which came out this January. I so can’t wait to read it! You really need to read this book, it’s brilliant!

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Published: 2nd October 2008
Publisher: Penguin
Karen Chance’s Website

My other reviews the Cassandra Palmer series:
Touch the Dark (Cassie Palmer Book 1)
Claimed by Shadow (Cassie Palmer Book 2)
Embrace the Night (Cassie Palmer Book 3)
Curse the Dawn (Cassie Palmer Book 4)

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