Saturday, 3 January 2015

Playing With Fire

It's no secret that I love vampires. I love their history and mythology, what they can be when they're true monsters. But I also know that they're not really the best creatures to approach or think of as agreeable, as Twilight tried to teach us not too long ago. Wait For Dusk by Jocelynn Drake on the other hand, is filled with more bloodshed than even I expected. Not that I'm complaining. When it comes to walkers of the night, I want them to be as ruthless as possible, and I can't remember reading about a vampire more tenacious and ferocious as Mira. The fifth novel in the Dark Days series was as fast paced and thrilling as I hoped, not to mention filled with twists and surprises and passion. Some minor spoilers to follow.

One of the sexier covers I own, but it definitely suits the story.
Feared even by her own kind for her mastery of fire, the nightwalker Mira is summoned by the coven to take her rightful place as Elder. But with this honor comes grave responsibility—a commitment to the annihilation of the unleashed naturi. For now the foul creatures walk the earth—and neither vampire nor human will survive their horrific onslaught.

A tide of blood is sweeping relentlessly across the European continent, as Mira is dispatched to Budapest for the most devastating test yet of her astonishing powers—and falls into a well-laid trap. With the dark secrets that haunt her growing darker by the hour, she must confront the terrible truth of her past and protect her fragile sanity in the face of unanticipated treachery—a betrayal by her trusted ally, her beloved enemy, the vampire slayer Danaus.

The story was as complex and in depth as I expected it to be, perhaps even more so. Main nightwalker Mira was faced with more enemies than I could count, some old and some new. Dispatching her hated enemy, the mystical naturi, was her main goal, but it soon became clear that her old adversaries weren't really the major danger. Everything else was, including Danaus, the one person she thought would never abandon her in time of need. In this book we're also introduced to Mira's true origins, and the enormous amount of trouble it will bring her. I really enjoyed all the detail and elements that brought the plot around, but more than that I enjoyed learning how Mira was going to exact her vengeance.

I hinted before that the Dark Days series is violent. Allow me to clarify– it's utterly ruthless. The amount of bloodshed the vampires in this series can take and wield is a little terrifying, even for someone like me, who's fascinated by them. Characters are beaten, stabbed, burned, ripped apart, bitten, thrown around, hearts are ripped out, and heads are torn off. Hell, the opening of the book starts with Mira lying in a heap looking like she'd been run over by a car and thrown down a hill for good measure. If you're not into stories with this level of violence, I can't really suggest this books/series to you. Having said that, if you like your monsters with bloody hands, this is definitely the series for you. The action is intense and very exciting, exactly what I've come to hope for with Dark Days.

All the characters are dimensional and unique, but the two strongest players are of course Mira and Danaus. Mira is one of the most interesting characters I've ever read. I like reading about her, but I can't exactly say I would like her as a person. She's stubborn and dedicated to her nature, not to mention wild and savage. She doesn't exactly think highly of humans, but is willing to defend them. She kills nightwalkers like her, but makes deal with her enemies to get revenge. I wouldn't want to be her friend, but I can't deny that I have enormous respect and a healthy fear for her. She is a powerful creature, but Mira also has a fierce protectiveness for those close to her heart.

One of those close to her heart is the brooding and even more stubborn vampire hunter Danaus. Usually I like him– he's deep and complicated, torn between two worlds. His views on vampires changed when he met Mira, who challenged all his beliefs and filled him with a desire he couldn't control. However, Danaus can still be drawn into the trappings of his old life, thinking that humans need to be protected above all costs and that Mira has an obligation to protect them just because they get mixed up with the wrong crowd. His stubbornness made me a little insane during Wait For Dusk, but watching his transition has been a fantastic thrill ride, and I look forward to seeing what will happen in the final novel, Burn The Night (which I'm reading now).

Acclaimed bestseller Kim Harrison has labelled the Dark Days series as a must for all urban fantasy fans, and I have to say that I agree with her. While I sometimes question the motives of the characters (hey, I'm human here!), I can't deny that the series has been a wicked ride from start to finish. I've read Drake's work before, and it's awesome to listen to Mira's old school voice as she fights for her New World against enemies we couldn't possibly comprehend. Drake has written a complex environment with politics I'm actually interested in reading about, and given her characters conflicts and trials that would make other characters in the urban fantasy world cringe. I absolutely recommend all these novels to urban fantasy fans, and to anyone that might still be holding a grudge against the Twilight vampires fairies. Trust me– those pretty boys and girls wouldn't last one second in Mira's world. She's certainly lived up to her name, and I know she'd have a few choice words and actions for them. I'd pay to see that show, though I'd make sure to stand in the shadows a hundred feet away with a fire extinguisher in hand.


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