Book Review: Midnight’s Daughter, by Karen Chance

373 pp.

Midnight's Daughter (Dorina Basarab, Dhampir, Book 1)This book is the beginning of a side-series to Karen Chance’s Cassie Palmer books. (Which I only started reading because of having read Midnight’s Daughter, and wanting the back story.) The main character of this series is Dorina Basarab, the dhampir daughter of Cassie Palmer’s vampire Significant Other Mircea. The series takes place in a “hidden magic underworld” universe that occasionally stretched my suspension of disbelief given some of the events within both series.)

In this particular fantasy series, being a dhampir is very, very far from the best of both worlds. Not only are dhampir hated and feared by both vampires and humans, they are also subject to blind fits of homicidal rage. (Which explains why they’re also feared by humans, since dhampir are very good at killing vampires, and seem to have an instinctive desire to do so, which would normally make them a very useful ally.) Dorina is unusual for a dhampir in that she’s more or less under the protection of her father Mircea, which is one of the reason why she’s managed to survive as long as she has. (The other reason being she’s unusually good at finding ways to work around her condition.)

Midnight’s Daughter opens up with Dorina attempting to investigate the disappearance of her roommate Claire a half-Dark Fey who is a powerful “null” from a mage family that specializes in healing. (A “null” is someone who is able to negate magic. Dorina suspects that someone wants to drain her power to create a “null bomb,” a process that is fatal for the null involved.) So far she hasn’t been able to find any good leads, and the most recent one is fairly disturbing for her; Claire might be pregnant with a dhampir child.

During her investigation she’s contacted by her father Mircea Basarab. Dorina is extremely reluctant to do anything for her father, though she’s managed to work with him in the past. She’s even more reluctant to help when she discovers exactly why he wants her help; apparently her uncle Dracula (yes, that Dracula) has escaped from his prison and Mircea needs her help to capture him. Uncle Drac is even crazier than she is, and almost killed her the last time she encountered him. If that weren’t bad enough, Mircea wants her to work with another member of her “family,” Louis-Cesare, a French vamp created by her other uncle, Radu. Louis-Cesare has some severe attitude problems (the primary one being he has a problem with Dorina’s attitude problem) and daddy issues. There’s also the part where he doesn’t want to work with a dhampir, any more than she want’s to work with a vampire.

Yes, Louis-Cesare and Dorina end up becoming an item despite the entire “dhampir hate vampire on sight and the feeling is very mutual.” They also manage to corner Drac, find and rescue Claire, and get embroiled in fairy politics. There’s also a lot of trolls, Clair turns out to be involved with fairy royalty, and Dorina sort-of adopts a half Duerger/half brownie she promptly dubs “Stinky.” It’s also discovered that “fey wine” has the unusual side benefit of completely controlling a dhampir’s berserker rage. (The down side of fey wine is that it tends to drive humans insane, while increasing their magical abilities. In Dorina’s case, fey wine also gives her very vivid flash backs of her own and other’s memories.

I enjoyed this book, but felt the side plot of “oh no, I might have to talk Claire into having an abortion because there’s no way she could raise a dhampir,” to be uncomfortably ableist. Even with the understanding that being a dhampir has some extreme difficulties attached to it, and Dorina has some severe trauma connected to her condition, I didn’t like the apparent authorial agreement. (I could be wrong about the tone, since it’s first person however. Mircea for instance seems to implicitly disagree with Dorina’s perceptions and opinions by the way he chooses to interact with her.)

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Filed under book, fantasy, Karen Chance, Review: Book, romance, urban, vampires

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