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