July 27, 2014

Review: Dark Wolf

Dark Wolf
A Carpathian Novel, Book #25
Christine Feehan

Published: 2014

Piatkus, Hardcover, 358p.
ISBN: 978-0-349-40216-1

Skyler Daratrazanoff always recognised the miracle that was Mimitri Tirunul, a man beyond any dream that had ever engaged her nigths.  But she is human.  Vulnerable.  He is Carpathian.  Nearly immortal.  She is nineteen.  He is an ancient.  Yet she holds half of his soul, the light to his darkness.  Without her, he will not survive.  Caught between the two arring species, Dimitri has spent centuries fighting to keep his people free and humans safe.  He has survived honourably when others have chosen to give up their souls.  Now, marked for extermination by the Lycans, Dimitri finds himself alone, and fearing for his life.  But salvation is coming . . .

No Lycan would ever suspect someone like Skyler to mount a secret rescue operation.  A teenage girl.  A human of untested abilities.  But she has something no one else has.  She is predestined for Dimitri - as he is for her.  And there is nothing stronger for Skyler than her desire to see her life-dream come true.  However dangerous it might be . . .

I have been reading the Carpathian based books since the about 2003, and although I have loved - or at least enjoyed - most of them, the last few years have been only so-so.  However, it is this book that I'm sure that most followers of the series have been waiting for since Skyler was first introduced to us in Dark Legend as Gabriel and Francesca's adopted daughter.  It's hard to believe that the wait is finally over, but there I sat last night, book in hand as I cracked the cover open and proceeded to see what was in store for this pair.

I'm going to start with the negatives and get them out of the road so I can finish this review on all the elements I loved about Dark Wolf.  So here goes...

To say I was not overjoyed would not be too far from the truth.  I have not been collecting these books since Dark Slayer as there always seems to be some new Carpathian popping up after roaming for centuries, and you just know that they're going to end up with a book in the not too distant future.  It really irked me that a new character like Fenris - who I hadn't even heard of by Dark Slayer! - was getting his own book, yet we've been waiting nearly 10 years for Skyler's.  {ok... calm down.  That's now water under the bridge because I'm holding their story in my hand}

Apart from the usual grumblings about a book that I'm sure most people experience at one time or another, one point really stood out - and that was Skyler's seemingly overnight turn-around after years of systematic and horrific childhood abuse.  If you've read Dark Legend - and you should, it's amazing! - you'd know exactly how Skyler came to be amongst the Carpathians.  Her injuries were horrible, and her childhood was an existence of nightmares.  So how did she end up, just years later, being able to have a loving physical relationship with her lifemate?  This is the one part of the story that didn't compute.  Dimitri should not have been able to sit on the same bed as her, let alone get her naked.  But what's that compared to poetic license?  Just another inconsistency in the series.

Okay, what next?  I'm not too fussed on the ever evolving menace that seems to be forever plaguing the Carpathian people.  First it was the evil vampires, then the mastermind of a vampire that turned out to be the Malinov brothers who had recruited/turned some Jaguar men.  But no!  It was really the mage Xavier who was behind it all in his attempts to achieve immortality like the Carpathians... but he's now dead, so it must be the Lycans that are causing more difficulties and trying to assassinate the Prince. . . huh?  Make up your minds.  Wasn't there a master plan made by the author to have an overall arc that tied all the troubles together?  I'd rather have a shorter series that was fabulous, than a dragged out series where everyone ever mentioned just has to have their own book.  At the rate Christine Feehan is writing these books we'll be up to #50 before Josef or Paul get a story!

extra 60 pages of Dark Blood sneak peak and 2 appendices.

Then there is the ending.  As I neared the end of this book I was really enjoying the growth of Skyler and her leaving the shadows of her past behind.  That is until I turned the page and was greeted with a bonus chapter for Dark Blood.  What the... ?  Seriously.  The book just seemed to finish in the oddest place for me.  Another disappointment and sign that this series has just gone on waaaay too long.

So after the above you'd probably think that I really didn't like the book at all.  But it's Dimitri and Skyler's story, so I could never give it just 1 star ;-D   Here we go, in random order;

One pet peeve of mine (and I've blogged about it before Why do authors do this?) is the authors use of the Carpathian language - you know, once she'd created it - and the translation of each phrase or paragraph.  It drove me nuts!  Thankfully, in Dark Wolf Feehan, Feehan seems to have pulled in her overwhelming desire to have everything they say be in Carpathian (and translated).  A little bit is good, too much is not a good thing ;-P

The relationships in Dark Wolf are what holds the story together.  Razven and Skyler's tentative relationship is a wonderful thing to see.  I was wondering how this was going to be resolved, and I was pleasantly surprised to read that there were no real drama's or hysterics.  A nice touch - oh, and I loved the 'wedding' gift that Razven and Ivory give the newly mated couple.  Gabriel's animosity towards Dimitri, although partly understandable, is finally resolved as well.  It was not expected, especially since it was encouraged (if you could call it that) by Lucien, and it ties that loose plot thread up nice and tight.

The Lycan story was a bit out of left field for me and because I haven't read the past 4 books I can't say whether this is working or not {my bad I know}.  I will say that the Lycan characters in Dark Wolf are used to perfection, and their viciousness in dealing with not only Dimitri, but the rescuing parties (first and second) was a real eye-opener.  I'm so used to having the Carpathians as the apex predator, that it's a nice twist to have another species that can be an equal to them.

 In all, I enjoyed this book, but it was no Dark Legend/Guardian/Secret, etc.  I won't be buying the Australian cover as they are very boring and not at all representative of the story, but once I find a US cover copy I'll add this to my shelves.  If you've been following the series then Dark Wolf is a must, however I wouldn't recommend anyone reading it who hasn't read any of the other books as there is so much backstory you need to know.  While not her best, this is not the worst book in the Carpathian series.


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