Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Dory Basarab's debut

I discovered Karen Chance's books last year and have very much enjoyed her unusual blend of action, contemporary fantasy and horror - with a dash of romance. I love the sense of wonder her settings invoke, and the way she weaves historical events with modern times, mythology and legends and combines them with tough, independent, likable heroines. There is a glut of this kind of book in the marketplace these days, so much that I am often reluctant to take the plunge with a new author, but Chance's books stand out from the rest, with their well-developed, unusual characters, plots that are anything but predictable, and her skillful storytelling style.

This book is set in the same time and place as the Cassandra Palmer series, and while it features some of the same characters, our heroine is someone new: Dory (Dorina) Basarab, who is an unusual kind of vampire assassin. Born of a human mother and a newly turned vampire father (someone readers of other books will recognize), Dory is a Dhampir. She is human, mostly, but with sensitive, heightened senses and preternatural strength, unusual longevity - and she lives constantly on the brink of insanity, cursed with a berserker kind of rage in which she blanks out, remembers nothing later, but when she comes to is generally covered with blood (other people's) and surrounded by bodies (mostly dead). Vampires fear and hate her - and humans do, too. She lives a solitary life, neither fish nor fowl, and is occasionally called in to "deal with" rogue vampires when needed.

Her roomate, Claire, is the one thing she cherishes about her life. Claire (featured in "Buying Trouble," a short story in the collection On the Prowl, which I'd recommend reading before this novel, if possible) is a "psychic null" - her presence nullifies the effect of magic anywhere near her. Aside from being a dear friend, Claire's presence enables Dory to control her rages, to be more human, to be the sort of person she aspires to become.

As the novel opens, Dory finds out that Claire has been abducted, might be killed at any moment, and Dory is frantic to find her. But suddenly she is called out to take care of the most psychopathic and demented vampire ever, and if she is to obtain the kind of help she needs to rescue Claire, she must locate and kill the vampire first. Not only that, but she's partnered with the most irritataing, high-handed, nasty-attitude-bearing man she's ever met (another familiar character from the Cassie Palmer books). Dory is tugged back into a world she's been trying to distance herself from, facing creepy, powerful adversaries as well as monsters from her own forgotten past, her loyalties tugged in every direction, on an action-packed roller coaster ride to a wonderfuly explosive conclusion. Along the way she enlists the help of a group of unlikely companions (my favorite of whom is the redoubtable Olga).

This was an enjoying whirlwind of a read, exciting, funny, and touching at times, and while I'm excited about the forthcoming publication of Curse the Dawn, the fourth book in the Casandra Palmer series, I'll be looking forward to more books about Claire and Dory.

Click here to read Karen Chance's thoughts on Midnight's Daughter.

Books in the Dorina Basarab series:
1. Midnight's Daughter
2. Death's Mistress

Midnight's Daughter (#1 in the Dorina Basarab series) by Karen Chance (Onyx, 2008)

Also reviewed at:
Cherie's Blog: "I obviously adored this first installment into this new series. It not only introduces us to yet another amazing storyline in this supernatural world we have all come to love, but also allows us the opportunity to view the world and its characters in a new light."
My Favourite Books: "Karen Chance knows how to spin a pretty involved story with an amusing, wry and flamboyant main character."
Reading Angel: "I absolutely love the world that these books are written in. There are lots of fun magical creatures to meet. Dory is one kick=a$$ chick!!!"

B&OT reviews of Karen Chance's Cassandra Palmer series:
1. Touch the Dark
2. Claimed by Shadow
3. Embrace the Night


  1. I'm going to have to check this one out. I was on the fence about the Cassandra Palmer series, but it was entertaining enough to keep me reading the three books. I didn't know this one was in the same setting. Very interesting!

    Thanks for always having such interesting books on here!

  2. This sounds like a great series of books. Thanks for turning me onto these. Another great review.

  3. Cat - I thought each of the Cassandra Palmers got better as they went along. I'll be curious to hear what you think if you end up reading this one, too. As you can tell, I enjoyed it!

    Serena - my pleasure! I hope you like this one if you give it a try.

  4. Hmmmm....I just read Touch the Dark. And I have the next in line to read when I get the chance. I guess I'll have to read this series when I finish up the other!!

    Nice review!

  5. Hello Darla,
    I was reading the area of your blog which talked about book stores and thought that maybe you could help. I own a literary T-shirt website and am looking to contact some cool book stores to see if they would like to carry them. But this is new to me. I've always used the web to sell them, but recently a book store opened up here, and when I stopped in I was chatting with the owner and she was excited about the shirts and bought a bunch and they were a big hit -- so I was thinking that maybe other book stores might be interested?
    When you were writing about cool book stores did you happen to find out locations?
    I know you don't know me from a can of paint, but I just thought I'd give it a try.
    My website is:
    Great blog, btw!
    David Richardson

  6. I liked her story in On the Prowl and I've been meaning to read something else by her ever since but haven't gotten around to it. There are just so many books I need and want to read!!!

  7. Stephanie - I bet when you finish the Cassandra Palmer series you'll be delighted there's this one to read, too! :-)

    Litrags - I am a librarian, but I used to work at a book store. It was a chain, and we couldn't take anyone's merchandise without clearing it through the powers that be, so to speak. My advice to you would be to look at independent book stores. You may be familiar with this site, but just in case, look at Indie Store Finder to find stores in a particular zip code. Good luck!

    Ladytink - believe me, I know how you feel! There are SO many books on my list these days, but what can you do?! :-)

  8. Oh, wow, I had no idea Chance had a new series going! You're right, there are so many of this ilk out there. It's had to cut through the clutter.

  9. I love this genre, and have the first two books in the Casandra Palmer series but have yet to read them :)

    This book sounds very interesting! I will definitely have to pick it up. Thanks for the great review.

  10. Carolyn Jean - isn't it fun to discover a new one you didn't know about? I love when that happens!

    Stephanie - thanks! You are in for a treat. I'd advise you to read all the Cassie Palmers, then the short story, and then this one. But I'm admittedly a bit retentive about reading things in order! :-)

  11. Hi Darla

    Thanks so much for linking my review I did for Midnight's Daughter! I was hesitant about reading it at first, feeling that Urban Fantasy / Paranormal Romance has exploded so much and that there is so little new and fresh ideas out I was thrilled to discover that I was wrong and that I should pack my preconceptions in my pocket and just read!

    Good book by a talented author.

    Liz @

  12. Liz - My pleasure - I enjoyed reading your review, and reading through your excellent blog, too. I'm glad you enjoyed this one as much as I did!

  13. I liked Touch the Dark and will be reading more of Chance next year. I have On The Prowl at the top of my list for next year too so I can read Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs straight afterwards! It looks like it will also help before reading more Karen Chance (I have this book at home too).

  14. Rhinoa - sounds like my kind of reading list! I'm looking forward to hearing you thoughts when you get to these. I think you'll like them!

  15. Right now I'm so glad I found your blog. Were else would I hear about these great books. Loved the story of Dory like I love the one of Cassie.
    Just one problem: Now I have to wait for two books! (if there is a fifth in the Cassie Palmer series, that is)

    I hope you had a great time in New York :-)

  16. Yay, Denise! I'm so glad you liked it. She had better write a fifth one in the Cassie Palmer series!

    We had a blast in NY, thanks. I hadn't been in ages, and we crammed a lot of fun in while we were there. We were all museum'd out by the end of our stay. :-)


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