It often happens that when a writer of a favorite series starts a new one, I feel a bit grumpy and reluctant to allow the new protagonist to worm her or his way into my affections. I felt a little bit like that when Karen Chance put her Cassie Palmer series on hold in order to focus on this new character, a resident of the same world, Dory Basarab. After a few chapters, though, Dory had firmly won me over, and with this, the second book in the series, I can honestly say that it would be tough for me to choose from between the two series. Chance's action-packed, convoluted and immensely entertaining plots, her very real and complex characters, her believable and well-constructed world, not to mention her fantastic sense of humor that has me laughing out loud in unexpected places - all of these elements combine in both series. So from here on out, I'll happily pick up whatever she decides to write.
This second installment in Dory's series builds very much on the previous one. I will try, as always to avoid spoilers, but those who are interested in reading this might want to take a look at my review of the first book, Midnight's Daughter, instead. Better yet, start with her Cassandra Palmer series (first book is Touch the Dark), which not only introduces readers to Chance's compelling urban fantasy world but also includes characters who appear in both series, which allows the reader to see them from entirely different points of view.
When I mention Chance's sense of humor, which tickles me to no end, I should probably say that my own sense of humor does tend toward the ghoulish at times. When, at the beginning of the book, Dory is sent to bring a vampire back to her father, the very powerful vampire Mircea, for questioning regarding some illegal activities he's been involved in, I found it immensely humorous when she ends up with his head in her duffel bag (vampires are quite resilient that way - if he cooperates, his head can be reattached to his body with little harm done). She doesn't expect to be involved in a bang-up action/adventure chase scene, so is stuck with the vamp's head, snarking at her the entire time, with his headless body lumbering around after them, as she is involved in progressively more dangerous situations. There were shades of Stephanie Plum that had me rolling on the floor. Don't get me wrong - there is much more here than a bit of slapstick humor - Dory has some serious emotional issues to deal with, and her own personal demons to fight.
Dorina's best friend Claire returns unexpectedly to their shared house - time passes differently in faerie, and she has some surprising news for Dory. She's also in a precarious situation, and Dorina of course promises to help her. If only people wouldn't keep trying to kill her so she could get something done! I was very happy to have read Chance's short story "Buying Trouble" in the anthology On the Prowl, which describes the events that have happened in Dory's friend Claire's life, which added greatly to my enjoyment of her role in this book. If you are a fan of this series and haven't read that short story, I'd recommend reading it before you start this book.
There is a also murder mystery to solve here, and it seems no one can be trusted - and Dory has yet to get her father to tell her the entire truth about things. She is furious because she ends up in hot water because she is kept in the dark, and she can't tell if he's trying to keep her safe or just doesn't trust her. She gains some surprising insight into his character in this book, and she learns a lot more about the devastatingly sexy vampire Louis-Cesare and his past, and things that happened centuries before Dorina was born. All in all, this is an excellent addition to this series, and as I said earlier, I'll be looking forward to whatever Chance decides to write next, with whatever protagonists she wants to include. Bring it on - and soon, please!
Books in the Dorina Basarab series:
1. Midnight's Daughter
2. Death's Mistress
Books in the Cassandra Palmer series:
1. Touch the Dark
2. Claimed by Shadow
3. Embrace the Night
4. Curse the Dawn
Death's Mistress (#2 in the Dorina Basarab series) by Karen Chance (Onyx, 2010)
Also reviewed at:
The Book Lush: "Death's Mistress is a must read for anyone looking for an urban fantasy story that's explosive, fast paced with wonderful characters and a plot that will keep you guessing until the very end! Really! I did not see it coming one bit."
Welcome to Larissa's Life: "The plot in this book was awesome and it was so action packed that I could not put it down for a second. The balance between romance and action is spot on and leaves nothing to be desired."