Dark Curse came to me by way of Open Book Society, where I won a contest. Thanks, OBS! This review will be posted there, as well.
A fair warning to those familiar with the series: I’m new to it. I’ll be reviewing from that perspective. Dark Curse is the nineteenth book in Christine Feehan’s Dark Series. Fortunately for me as a newbie to the series, it seems each is written so that a new person can pick any one of them up and start reading. It was nice not to have the previous eighteen novels as required reading to understand what was going on here; I would never have been able to review this in a timely manner.
As you would expect with such a long-established series, the world of Dark Curse is richly realized, with character and societal history oozing throughout the narrative. This is our modern world, populated by mythological beings such as lycanthropes, vampires, mages, and those who hunt the vampires–the Carpathians. The Carpathians are the focus of this story, and are a culture and species of ancient and powerful beings on the brink of extinction, with very few children being born, and few surviving their earliest years. Only the very long lives they have keep them going as a society.
Enter the heroine, Lara Calladine. Lara was born into a place where she, like her aunts, was a prisoner used as a food source for the evil mage–her great-grandfather–Xavier. Periodically and painfully bled to feed her father and Xavier, she knows only paralyzing fear and pain as a child, before her aunts help her escape out into the world. The novel takes place some twenty years later, when Lara meets Nicolas De La Cruz.
This is where I mention that though I enjoyed the story over all, I started rolling my eyes at the romance cliches. Lara and Nicolas are mysteriously drawn to each other. Both characters note that though they’ve never felt an attraction for another person, they pretty much burn at the sight of each other, inexplicably attracted. There were a few too many “womanly” and “feminine” curves and “masculine beauty” used in the descriptions, but I knew I was reading a romance novel from the get go, so I wasn’t surprised. The romance and sexual parts of the novel seem pretty standard for what I’m used to reading in the genre. By the time the two main characters got around to consummating their love, I was much, much more interested in the larger world that Feehan has created, so I skimmed through the sex scenes to get to the good stuff.
As it turns out, Lara’s unique heritage–Carpathian, mage, and Dragonseeker–and her familiarity with Xavier’s magic allow her to see what has been carefully hidden from the Carpathians: Xavier’s centuries-long plan to wipe out their species. The question then becomes: can Lara help these people, and still reclaim her past?
Dark Curse was an easy read, a novel I started and finished in one evening. Not earth-shaking, but solidly entertaining. Exactly the kind of easy summer reading that I needed as I give my brain a break from some of the heavier fiction and non-fiction I’ve been taking in.
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