Eternal Kiss of Darkness
Eternal Kiss of Darkness – Jeaniene Frost
An immortal war has been brewing in the darkness . . .
And now one woman has stumbled into the shadows.
Chicago private investigator Kira Graceling should have just kept on walking. But her sense of duty refused to let her ignore the moans of pain coming from inside a warehouse just before dawn. Suddenly she finds herself in a world she’s only imagined in her worst nightmares.
At the center is Mencheres, a breathtaking Master vampire who thought he’d seen it all. Then Kira appears—this fearless, beautiful . . . human who braved death to rescue him. Though he burns for her, keeping Kira in his world means risking her life. Yet sending her away is unthinkable.
But with danger closing in, Mencheres must choose either the woman he craves, or embracing the darkest magic to defeat an enemy bent on his eternal destruction.
The second novel in Jeaniene Frost’s popular Night Huntress World series focuses on Mencheres, a powerful Master vampire who up until now has been only a secondary character in the main Night Huntress series. While this novel begins a little slower paced then previous novel within the series, it is still no less endearing or wonderfully written. Instead, this novel plays on the evolution of the characters and their bond rather then depending on the action to carry it through. However, it does evolve into a plot with lots of action, suspense, and all the things we have come to expect from Jeaniene Frost.
The novel starts off on a rather odd foot, with Mencheres allowing himself to be captured and tortured by Ghouls. It is only after Kira, a human Good Samaritan, risks her life rescuing him that he lashes out against his captors, killing them almost instantly, but not before Kira is mortally wounded. Feeling a debt to the woman, he heals her but is unable to mesmerize her and remove the memories of what transpired so he is forced to take her with him.
It is from there that my problems with the novel stem. As we first begin to get to know Mencheres, he is extremely apathetic. He is world weary, with his ability to see the future gone; leaving only a looming darkness in its stead which he interprets to mean that his time on this earth is growing shorter. He has appointed Bones the co-ruler of his line and imparted a great deal of his powers over to him in his effort to tidy up his affairs. But, with the appearance of Kira into his life we find that he is also charming, generous and still quite powerful with an uncanny control of both himself and his powers. In other words, there is nothing old about him. In actuality I would say that he greatly values life (human and vampire), but because of his recent history he is weighed down and in desperate need of a beacon in the looming darkness to give him a reason to carry on. However, in sad fact, we come to see that instead of the comforts of friends, he distrusts the motivations of those around him. He feels that they are only drawn to his power, wealth and protection he can offer, but not actually him. It’s these insecurities that truly grated on my nerves as he pines for Kira, opting to stalk her rather then get close to her and give her a chance to like the man that he is.
Kira is likewise maddening. She is instantly attracted to Mencheres, but due to her captivity she feels she can’t trust that feeling. Instead she believes it might be a reaction of Stockholm syndrome, a syndrome where the captive falls in love with her captor. But, after Mencheres lets her go free with only a promise from her to not tell the human world about his kind, she comes to realize that she truly does want him in her life. In fact, that she may love the vampire. Needless to say, she almost recklessly goes looking into any supernatural lead she can find searching out Mencheres or someone that can lead her to him. Instead she finds a human girl that has been missing for several years being held by a vampire as his property. Foolishly she tries to extricate the woman, but is captured and tortured by the vampire until she finally reveals that she knows Mencheres.
It isn’t until this point that the pace begins to finally pick up and we become steeped in the action of a centuries old feud and the romance between Kira and Mencheres as they finally begin to accept that they have feelings for each other. Mencheres also begins to opening up, revealing why it is he feels that he is not deserving of her love, or anyone’s for that matter. It’s at this point that I began to feel true affection for the character and the dark complexity of his nature. That while fiercely loyal, he also feels a great sense of responsibility for the actions of others, actions that are not within his control.
The characterization of this novel I feel is also much deeper then in previous ones. Instead of playing on what we expect to see (i.e. the wit and instant action) we are alternately led on a journey with these characters. After coming to realizing this, the action of the novel became secondary to the evolution of these characters and from there I enjoyed the book immensely. Not to mention the secondary characters involved – the villain Radjedef with his centuries old animosity and Vlad Tepish…yep, that’s right, even Dracula himself makes an appearance…and his strength and loyalty towards Mencheres are highly developed and big as life.
The world this series takes place in is likewise well built. The mythos of the vampire and ghoul culture is nicely explained and explored as is the varying histories of the characters. The only thing I would have liked to have seen a bit more of in this particular novel was the Egyptian lore tying back to Mencheres. While we do get a few tidbits about the Egyptian gods, the magic and a brief look at his stint as a Pharaoh in the 4th Dynasty I was still left a little lacking about his past.
Overall, this novel was a great read with interesting and strong characters, even if they did start off a little lost. The journey back to finding their strength was wonderful to watch unfold as was the romance that sparked between Mencheres and Kira. This is definitely another wonderful installment into the Night Huntress World that I suggest you shouldn’t miss. I rate Eternal Kiss of Darkness 4 out of 5 Bites.
Reviewer: Wenj http://blacklagoon.left-unspoken.net
October 28th, 2010 at 9:34 am