Saturday, August 23, 2008

“Nightwalker” by Jocelynn Drake

For centuries Mira has been a nightwalker—an unstoppable enforcer for a mysterious organization that manipulates earth-shaking events from the darkest shadows. But elemental mastery over fire sets her apart from others of her night-prowling breed . . . and may be all that prevents her doom.

The foe she now faces is human: the vampire hunter called Danaus, who has already destroyed so many undead. For Mira, the time has come to hunt . . . or be hunted.
Nightwalker is the debut novel from author Jocelynn Drake and the beginning of the Dark Days series. This dark urban fantasy is a polished action adventure. While Drake’s world building includes the usual supernatural elements encompassing vampires, weres, sorcerers and fae, she very much adds her own unique twists and interpretations. In her world the fae are known as the naturi and are a relentless blood thirsty enemy of vampires and mankind. They were locked away from the world by the vampires after an epic battle five centuries previously.

Mira is nightwalker (vampire) whose territory is Savannah Georgia. She confronts a vampire hunter, Danaus, who has been killing in her domain. She quickly learns he is not just an ordinary human hunter but something more, and has been drawing her out deliberately. He reveals to her that the few surviving naturi, are planning to unlock the portal and unleash the entire naturi forces on the world.

Danaus and Mira form an uneasy alliance, to track and eliminate the naturi threat. Their search takes them to Egypt and ultimately to England where they must also locate members of the original vampire Triad that created the portal seal.

We learn that Mira is unique—a firestarter; an ability she had when human and retained even after she was turned. This makes her feared in the vampire community and a powerful fighter. But Mira also displays a surprising degree of vulnerability for a 603 year old vampire. She calls her daytime human bodyguards her angels (perhaps not so ironically called Michael and Gabriel). She is compassionate about those she sees as her responsibility and is unafraid to show emotion in stressful situations.

As a result of their close proximity with one another, many of Danaus’ assumptions about the evil nature of vampires are challenged. Mira gains insight into her own origins that shake the foundations of many of her beliefs. Together we see the two characters evolve and we begin to anticipate that something more may come of their relationship. This character growth is a satisfying counterpoint to the action and intrigue. Their unusual relationship is perhaps typified by the following quote where Danaus and Mira are discussing their long-term chances of survival –
Mira: “We’ll find a way” I whispered. “I always do.”
Danuas leaned forward and brushed a kiss against my temple, sending a wave of peace deep into the marrow of my bones, helping to ease some of the pain.
Danaus: “And then we’ll kill each other as God intended.”
There is no shortage of scenes for action junkies. Numerous skirmishes with the naturi provide sufficient chills and thrills with a high BVR (bloody violence rating). Mira is often injured and the healing is not always easy and at times life threatening. It is refreshing to see a vampire nature that is not seemingly invulnerable, but at risk from lesser injuries.

The story concludes at a satisfying juncture but clearly it is the jumping off point for the sequel to come called Daywalker. Plenty of mystery remains around the character of Danaus and Mira’s new circumstances create anticipation for her next moves. Strong action and likeable characters make Nightwalker a pleasant find from a new writer.

Read the first seven chapters.


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