Pros: Fascinating world, characters, and take on vampirism; intricate arc-plot; sizzling sex scenes
Cons: Quite complex if you’re coming into the series fresh
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Confession time: I try to avoid most vampire stories, particularly series about complex societies of immortal vampires living among humans. It isn’t that this concept can’t be done well—it’s that it’s been done so much that even just reading the reviews of all the series out there that are doing it makes me feel tired of the genre. So it was with some surprise that I found Lynn Viehl’s take on her ‘Darkyn’ to be fresh enough, original enough, and interesting enough to captivate me.
Liling is a landscaper at a medical facility. She brings flowers to the patients, and some of them say that her touch takes their pain away. She’s developed a particularly deep friendship with another girl there, and this has brought her to the attention of the facility’s patron, a mesmerizing man named Valentin Jaus.
Valentin is one of the immortal Darkyn, a group of men transformed some centuries back into vrykolaka, creatures who require human blood to survive. Ordinarily their blood is poisonous to mortals, but recently several humans have successfully made the transition from human to Darkyn, and no one knows why. Alexandra, a Darkyn who was a surgeon before she made the transition, is studying Darkyn blood in an attempt to unravel the mystery.
A chance photograph of Liling that makes it into the newspaper sends her on the run, fleeing from a group Valentin is all too familiar with: the Brethren, priests dedicated to destroying the Darkyn. Soon she & Valentin are on the run from the Brethren, from a man Liling fears more than anyone, and from their own tempestuous feelings for each other.
Valentin and Liling are fascinating characters, as are so many of the others that put in an appearance. Even the force of nature chasing Liling down, as well as the flirtatious teen he picks up to help translate for him, develop an unexpected depth. Liling is not only a fascinating enigma, but a part of the mystery surrounding the Darkyn, the Brethren, and the Darkyn’s newest inductees such as Alexandra. While it’s clear this mystery began in earlier books and will be furthered in later ones (this is the first Darkyn novel I’ve personally read), there’s enough contained in this volume to fascinate and satisfy the reader for the moment, yet leave us wanting more.
Viehl’s Darkyn world is a complex one, with enough characters that I sometimes floundered a bit in keeping up. If you’ve read the other books I’m betting that won’t be a problem for you. As it was, it was only a minor difficulty. The characters were brought alive well enough (even those with limited, brief scenes) that they seemed fully-fleshed despite my lack of background, and brief ‘reminders’ of past events seemed enough to fill me in on the necessary details without taking on the air of info-dumps. And really, when you’re talking about a world this complex, with this kind of ongoing arc-plot, that’s pretty impressive.
As for the romantic & erotic content, well, Valentin and Liling absolutely sizzle together! They seem so utterly different, and yet they fit together extremely well. The adult content is quite adult, make no mistake—graphic and definitely not plain vanilla in nature. On the other hand, if you’re reading vampire erotica, ‘vanilla’ probably isn’t what you’re looking for anyway!