Review: “Death’s Mistress,” Karen Chance

Pros: Engrossing story, snarky characters, and plenty of action
Cons: Needs some context; plot twist stretched believability; main character doesn’t seem 500 years old
Rating: 3 out of 5

Review book courtesy of Penguin Group

 

Karen Chance’s Death’s Mistress is the sequel to her novel Midnight’s Daughter. My series book rant explains why I think series books should at least marginally be able to stand alone (and why it can be useful to review series books out of order), and this one doesn’t. I sort of managed to hold on, but needed the context.

 

From the back of the book:

Dorina Basarab is a dhampir—half human, half vampire. …

… A friend wants Dory’s help in finding a magical Fey relic, and the gorgeous vampire Louis-Cesare is desperate to find his former mistress, Christine.

Dory and Louis-Cesare quickly discover that the same master vampire Christine is bound to is also rumored to be in possession of the relic. But when the master vampire turns up dead, they realize that there’s more at stake than a missing mistress. Someone is killing vampire Senate members, and if Dory and Louis-Cesare can’t stop the murderer, they might be next.

At first I found the book to be on the cartoonish side, which put me off and almost made me stop reading. I’m glad I didn’t. There’s a lot of silliness, but most of it blended well with the rest of the material and added to the fun of the book. Some material in the book does get dark, however, so keep that in mind when deciding whether it’s for you.

There was a little too much sexual assault for my taste. Which is to say, authors are starting to rely on threats with a sexual overtone as a cheap way to make the reader worry for the fate of the female lead. Instead of horrifying, this instead cheapens sexual assault as a plot element and makes it ordinary—which, in my opinion, it should never be.

Part of the story revolves around an artifact which is supposed to render its wearer incapable of being killed, and the characters spend the entire book trying to hunt it down. While I’ll admit that the ultimate disposition of the relic was clever, it felt… cheap. It required complex gyrations and an improbable chain of events to accomplish, and when it was finally revealed, the ease with which the characters reconstructed that chain of events stretched credibility.

I must also note that while I enjoyed Dory’s snarky personality, she in no way came across as a 500-year-old character.

Lest all of these complaints leave you with the impression that I didn’t like the book, let me assure you that I found it quite fun. Once I got into it I enjoyed the action, explosive fights, quirky relationships and characters, and wacky plot twists. It isn’t my favorite book, but I am glad I read it.

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