Midnight's Daughter by Karen Chance
published by New American Library in October 2008
Dorina Basarab is a dhampir-half human, half vampire. Subject to uncontrollable rages, most dhampirs live very short, very violent lives. So far Dory has managed to maintain her sanity by unleashing her anger on those demons and vampires who deserve killing.Genre: Urban Fantasy
Now Dory's vampire father has come back into her life. Her Uncle Dracula (yes, the Dracula), infamous even among vampires for his cruelty and murderous ways, has escaped his prison. And her father wants Dory to work with gorgeous master vampire 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, so when Dory has to go up against him, she'll take all the help she can get ...
Series: Dorina Basarab series, Book #1
The Story: As it says in the blurb, Dorina is a dhampir, i.e. half-human, half vampire. Dhampirs usually live short lives given vampires' hatred for them and the berserker blackouts. Dory is a rare one, probably the only one, who has managed to survive 500 years... However, she knows her end - that one day, she'll go into a rage and won't come back either because she'll be killed or will have lost her mind. For now though, she is content with her life. She even has found a roommate, a null, who has a calming effect on her rages. Except that Claire has suddenly disappeared and Dory suspects foul play, especially when word on the street is that Claire is pregnant and the baby is a dhampir.
So Dory is busy and is less than happy when her father, the mighty Mircea, shows up and demands that she helps him with family business. Considering that family business is to capture Dracula - again - and she almost got killed the last time, plus uncle Drac hates her and is looking for payback, let just say that Dory is less than thrilled. However, as a bargaining chip, Mircea offers to find Claire and with the Senate resources at hand, he is most likely to achieve it faster than Dory is... and thus, Dory accepts to help. As a result, she is now saddled with Louis-Cesare, her uncle Radu's first-level master vampire offspring, who is determined to fight with her for control of the mission.
My Opinion: I was looking for something to read and came across Li's post for October new releases. On it, she had Fury's Kiss by Karen Chance. Li has been a fan of Ms Chance for years and she's always so excited when a book comes out and always seems to enjoy them so much. I tried reading Touch of Dark, the first book in the Cassie Palmer series, years ago and I don't know, just didn't get into it... and I'm not likely to try again given the love triangle. However, Fury's Kiss blurb sounded really interesting and Dorina seemed like my type of heroine :) Plus, this is a spin-off series, so I thought I'd give it a try from the beginning... and I'm really glad I did :)
As I suspected, Dory was indeed my type of heroine: kick-ass and a little crazy LOL. She was also very loyal, not only to her friend Claire, but to her family as well. I'm sure that given some time, she would have accepted to go after Dracula even if Mircea didn't offer the incentive. And I liked her attitude. Life is not perfect, but she rolls with it. She doesn't weight herself down thinking too much about the past or the future and it's not that she doesn't care, because she does... but mostly, she simply lives in the moment. Which is not a bad idea for someone who expects to die at any moment. In addition to her character, I also loved her family background - that she is the daughter of Mircea, a powerful vampire on the Senate, and the niece of Radu and the Dracula... Also that Ms Chance based it on a little on history with Mircea, Dracula and Radu... It was the perfect backdrop to this dysfunctional family because the conflicts were real and it definitively added a little something to the series.
Another pro to Midnight's Daughter is that I really enjoyed all the other characters and their dynamics with Dory. The relationship that Dory shares with Mircea is complex, but also very interesting. The way Dory talks about Mircea, it seems he doesn't care about her and is always manipulating her... but I'm sure Mircea loves Dory a lot. Perhaps it's being an outsider and therefore having a new perspective. Or else, it's always been there, but Dory just never wanted to believe, preferring to lie to herself. In any case, she talks a good game, but as I said earlier, she cares and she does love Mircea. I loved, loved, loved Radu!! He was soooo hilarious LOL. His interactions with Dory were fun and ridiculous. There's a solid bond between Radu and Mircea which I liked. I liked that family matters - to a certain extent - and that Dory, Mircea, Radu and Louis-Cesare have each other's back. As for Louis-Cesare, once again, I liked his interactions with Dory. LOL, that opening scene when Dory is rubbing Louis-Cesare's face in the rug... He also has a huge chip on his shoulder which makes him resent Dory a little, but despite that, he's still loyal to Radu and Mircea. I feel we haven't seen him enough, but from what we saw, I say he is intriguing and has potential.
Where it gets tricky in Midnight's Daughter is the plot. It was actually interesting and it got me hooked... at first. I mean, Dory and Louis-Cesare are going after Dracula! It should have been very exciting, with action non-stop... but it wasn't. There were quite a few down times and those felt incongruous with the storyline. I also need to mention that for some reasons, the storyline was difficult to follow. I read and re-read some parts and somehow, things were still jumbled up and I just could not untangle it :( Furthermore, there was the other storyline about Dory's missing friend Claire which intersected with the main plot several times... and it just added to the confusion ^_^; Perhaps some of it stemmed from not reading the original series and therefore, missing some information in the world building... but I don't think so. Plus, I actually liked the world Midnight's Daughter is taking place in, mostly because while it does focus on the vampires, it doesn't have all the vampires clichés and is therefore refreshing. Although I wouldn't mind reading a bit about the different levels of masters and their hierarchy and what is going on with the world besides the fact there is a war. Anyway, at the end of the day, Dracula was slayed, but I thought the showdown was anti-climatic.
My Grade: B-. I think that Midnight's Daughter does a good job at setting up this spin-off series. It introduces Dorina, the important players and their dynamics well... But as much as I loved that part of the book, I think the storyline was a bit disappointing. It had a lot of potential, but things never really happened... Or they did, but it was so confusing that I didn't get it ^_^; At the end of the day though, I enjoyed Midnight's Daughter enough to start the next book, Death's Mistress, right away :)