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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

'Black Dawn' Morganville Vampires #12 by Rachel Caine

 Received from the Publisher

From the BLURB:

Ever since the draug - mysterious creatures that prey on vampires - took over Morganville, the lives of student Claire Danvers and her friends have been thrown into turmoil. Using the city's water system to spread, the draug have rapidly multiplied and vampire Amelie - the town founder - has been infected by the master draug's bite.

Now, unless Claire and her friends figure out how to cure Amelie and defeat the draug, Morganville will become little more than a ghost town...

** Warning! This review contains spoilers of previous 'Morganville Vampires' books ** 

The town of Morganville is no stranger to danger; Bishop, homicidal super computer, rogue vampires and a near-deadly human uprising. All have tried, and failed, to bring Morganville and the town’s founder, Amelie, to its knees. Always, the vampires have come out on top, with their human donors agreeing to keep tremulous obedience. But now, all that has changed.

The draug are ancient water creatures who feed on vampires. Death by draug bite is long and painful . . .  even worse though, are the hallucinations that come with death. The draug have invaded Morganville with the intent to overthrow Amelie and reign supreme – and they seem to be succeeding. Amelie lies dying from draug bite, and her second-in-command, Oliver, is in charge.

What happens in Morganville when those who have always been at the top of the food chain, are now the ones being hunted?

‘Black Dawn’ is the twelfth book in Rachel Caine’s epic paranormal series, ‘Morganville Vampires’.

Twelve books in and travelling back to Morganville is still a helter-skelter thrill-ride of epic proportions. Book eleven, ‘Last Breath’, finished on a cliff-hanger with the invasion of Morganville, and the Scooby gang (Claire, Shane, Eve and Michael) learning of the vampires ancient enemy, the draug. As Morganville comes to ruin, vampires and humans alike are in hiding, avoiding bodies of water, and even Claire’s university has been shut down and evacuated. Even worse, the town’s founder, Amelie, lies dying by increments from a draug bite that will see her eventually turn into one of them. Morganville rests in Oliver’s hands, and as the Scooby Gang know, he has no love lost for humans.
‘So you are right,’ he finished, even more quietly. ‘In order to accomplish these things, I will need the help of humans, and of you and your friends. It galls me, but there is no possibility of success without mortal assistance. Vampires have battled the draug, fled from the draug, nd died. But the draug are not used to fighting mortals. You are . . . unpredictable. And as a general, I will use whatever weapons come to hand to win my battles. Do you understand me?’
She gave him a small, thin smile. It felt like a cut in her lips. ‘You’re saying we’re expendable.’
‘All soldiers are expendable, young or old, vampire or human, and ever have been.’

The town is crumbling, and so too are the Scooby Gang. In ‘Last Breath’, vampire Michael was captured and attacked by the draug. Upon being rescued by his friends, he inadvertently attacked Eve and nearly drained her dry. When ‘Black Dawn’ begins, the gang are fractured following Eve and Michael’s falling-out – she can’t help but flinch at his touch, and Michael starts to question the likelihood of a vampire and human staying together, let alone marrying as they had planned.

‘Black Dawn’ continues Rachel Caine’s recent trend of alternate points-of-view, something which stated in ‘Bite Club’ when she gave us Shane’s narrative. In ‘Black Dawn’, even more long-running characters are offering their perspectives. We get chapters from Oliver, Michael, Shane and Eve. As well as Claire’s usual input. Each of these POV’s are vital to the story – and often the narrative switch comes in scenes in which Claire is not physically present, and readers would have no ordinary way of knowing what transpired. This means we get some very interesting insight into Eve and Michael’s relationship hurdles, Oliver’s unusually tender feelings for Amelie and Shane’s true insecurities about Myrnin’s interest in Claire. . .

That’s right. ‘Black Dawn’ has a surprising focus on Shane’s jealous steak where Claire’s vampire boss, Myrnin, is concerned. Claire and Shane have been a pretty rock-solid couple for quite a few books now (the romantic tensions of ‘Bite Club’ being their first real trial in a long time). So fans are understandably keen for a little spice to be added to the mix – in the form of Claire’s boss, Myrnin, who many have speculated has a soft spot for his little human laboratory assistant. Now, I’m not saying that all fans want Claire to leave Shane for Myrnin. I'd say it’s a small minority who are Team Myrnin in the battle for Claire’s affections. But I think lots of fans want the tension and drama of Myrnin professing his interest in Claire (beyond just wanting her brain to power his super-computer that is). So far fans have been left to speculate and make mountains out of molehills where Myrnin and Claire are concerned. . . well, things get interesting in ‘Black Dawn’. Thanks to the alternate perspectives, we do get to read Shane’s true jealous feelings. We also get a glimpse at what Amelie and Oliver think of Myrnin’s interest in Claire. Hmmm. . . .interesting, interesting stuff. And, of course, all this speculation leads to some funny and classically snarky Shane scenes between him and Myrnin;
‘Wow,’ Shane said. ‘You really know how to drum up team spirit. Did you print up Team Total Fail jerseys, too?’

Any fans who are sceptical of Caine’s POV swap-up will be rest assured by ‘Black Dawn’. The alternate narratives pay-off ten-fold when we get new insight into Eve and Michael’s relationship – another couple who have been fairly stagnate for a few books now, but have a real change-up in this twelfth instalment. Shane also has a chapter of such heartbreak, which is so beautifully communicated by Caine, that fans will absolutely understand and accept the reasons behind her needing other characters to have a voice.

Now, as to the ending. . .  a lot happens in ‘Black Dawn’, and there are quite a few resolutions to be made (not least of all because of all the side-stories alternate narratives present). The ending is mind-blowing, to say the least. Quite a few times Caine comes close to the edge of changing the entire trajectory of the ‘Morganville Vampires’ series. But she doesn’t do it. She takes a step back and I, for one, was a wee bit disappointed. . .

[huge SPOILERS – highlight to read!] I actually wanted Amelie to make Claire a vampire. I know, I know – I can hear fans howling at the indignity of this opinion. But, honestly, I was rooting for it. For one thing, I would have really liked to read Shane’s reaction. A lot of ‘Black Dawn’ is about how far Claire and Shane have come in their relationship – and they are gorgeous together (their ‘not perfect’ speech was BEAUTIFUL!) But I kinda wanted to read a spanner thrown in their works – and I think a real test of Shane’s devotion, would be how he reacts to a vampire Claire. Would he still love her? Would he still want her? Remember his reaction to his best friend, Michael, being turned vampire – well what would happen if it was Claire? Furthermore, I was intrigued by Amelie saying Myrnin would appreciate Claire being turned. I think he would have. A lot. I wanted to read that. I don’t know, maybe I’m a sucker for a rock and a hard place, but I think Caine begged off of a genuinely good and complex curve-ball when she didn’t turn Claire vampire. [end SPOILERS]

‘Black Dawn’ is an incredible new instalment in Rachel Caine’s ‘Morganville Vampires’ series. Now I’m interested to know where we go from here – and with the thirteenth book title announced, ‘Bitter Blood’, what is in store for the Scooby Gang and the town of Morganville in the wake of disaster?


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this! :) Can't wait to read the book!


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