Only the most recent posts pop up on the HOME page. For searchable lists of titles/series reviewed on this Blog, click on one of the Page Tabs above. On each Page, click on the series name to go directly to my review.

AUTHOR SEARCH lists all authors reviewed on this Blog. CREATURE SEARCH groups all of the titles/series by their creature types. The RATINGS page explains the violence, sensuality, and humor (V-S-H) ratings codes found at the beginning of each Blog review and groups all titles/series by their Ratings. The PLOT TYPES page explains the SMR-UF-CH-HIS codes found at the beginning of each Blog review and groups all titles/series by their plot types. On this Blog, when you see a title, an author's name, or a word or phrase in pink type, this is a link. Just click on the pink to go to more information about that topic.

Monday, December 2, 2013


Author:  Larissa Ione
Plot Type:  Soul-Mate Romance (SMR)     
Ratings:  Violence4; Sensuality4; Humor2-3 
Publisher and Titles:  Pocket
      1     Bound by Night (10/2013 )
      2     Chained by Night (9/2014) 
      2.5  "Forsaken by Night" (novella in Blood Red Kiss anthology, 10/2016) 

This post includes reviews of the first two novels and a link to my review of the 2.5 novella. Appearing first is an overview of the world-building, followed by my reviews of the two novels. Click HERE to read my review of the novella, "Forsaken by Night," which is one of three novellas in the anthology Blood Red Kiss.

      In this series, Ione has developed an inventive and nontraditional mythology for her vampires. This is a world in which vampires are treated much like the Africans who were enslaved by Europeans and Americans during the nineteenth century. Most vampires are slaves, owned by wealthy human families and controlled by threats, violence, collars and chains, microchips, torture, neutering, and defanging. Most are used as household servants, but some are used as subjects for all manner of diabolical "scientific" experiments. A small number of "wild" vampires (those who have escaped capture) live in various clans in isolated areas, but they are always being hunted by the Vampire Strike Force (VAST), an army of specialized vampire hunters who use weapons and ammunition that take advantage of the vampires' greatest weaknesses. VAST's mission is "to kill or capture every nonenslaved vampire on the planet." An additional threat comes from individual vampire hunters, who collect vampires' blood and fangs and sell them for huge profits to human buyers.

     Humans have known of the existence of vampires for 80 years and have been enslaving them for 60 years. Humans inoculate themselves against one of the two forms of the vampire virusthe one that is transmitted by saliva. That vaccination will keep a human from being turned by a vampire's bite. No vaccine has yet been developed that will defend against the second, more powerful, strain of vampire virusthe one carried in a vampire's blood. 

     Not all humans are trying to kill off the vamps. Groups like the Vampire Humane Society and Humans for the Advancement of Vampire Entities have formed in recent years to work towards more ethical treatment of enslaved vampires. These groups are not trying to stop enslavement, but they do want the vamps to be receive better treatment from their owners.

     Another nontraditional aspect of vampire life in this world is that twice a month vamps are overcome with sexual heat. At the full moon, male vampires have an overwhelming need to feed from and have sex with female vampires (not human women), and at the new moon, female vamps have the same urges for male vamps.

     The origin story for vampires in this world is rooted in Native American mythology. Many vamps believe in the myth of the crow and the raven. "Two Native American tribal chiefs kill each other, and then a crow and a raven fight over their bodies, spilling their blood into the men, who afterward rise that night as undead." Others believe that there is a more demonic aspect to their origins. What is known is that born vampires are Native Americans, that they are much more powerful than "made" vampires, and that the oldest, purest vampires have the most power of all.

     The series centers on the MoonBound clan of vampires, the second largest population of free vampires in the Pacific Northwest. Led by an ancient, born vampire named Hunter, the MoonBound vamps have created an attractive and comfortable underground home with full access to all of the usual conveniences: electricity, top of the line technical equipment, a huge library, and regular delivery of supplies from friendly human sources. Their rival clan is the ShadowSpawn, a larger and much more primitive group whose culture reminds me of the Vikings or the ancient Greek Spartans. In ShadowSpawn, males are in charge of all aspects of life, while females are completely subservient (although there are a few female warriors).

             BOOK 1:  Bound by Night             
     The book opens with a Prologue that takes place 20 years earlier at the time of a vampire uprising against the rich and powerful Martin familya family whose wealth comes directly from the enslavement of vampires. During that outbreak of violence, most of the members of the Martin family were murdered, except for two half-siblings: Charles, the bastard son of the head of the Martin family, and Nicole, the daughter, who is the heroine of this book. Eight-year-old Nicole was attacked and badly injured during the uprising, and she has been told many lies about vampires and about what actually occurred during various events in her childhood. As a result, she despises and fears all vampires. After her family was destroyed, Nicole grew up in Paris, where she became a vampire physiologist and eventually became the head of the family's laboratories, specializing in working toward the development of a vaccine that would protect humans against the blood-borne vampire virus. She sees no problem with experimenting on vampires because she views them as vicious animalsbased on her personal experience and the stories she has been told.

     In the present day (chapter 1), Nicolenow 28 years oldhas returned to Seattle to take over as head of the Martin family's Daedalus Corporation, a position that her half-brother, Charles, has held until now. Daedalus specializes in "acquiring, training, and selling vampire servants…and all the accessories that go with them." Nicole's medical technology division represents a minor percentage of the corporation's profits, so no one is happy when Nicole suggests that they sell off the vampire enslavement divisions and expand their medical technology efforts. 

     Meanwhile, the MoonBound vamps have a major problem: Not long ago, they had borrowed Neriya, a midwife from the ShadowSpawn clan, but she was kidnapped by Daedalus and is now being held in an unknown location. ShadowSpawn has threatened to murder every last member of MoonBound if Neriya isn't returned immediately. Hunter's top warrior is Riker, a renegade whose wife once belonged to the Martin family. When Riker realizes that Nicole Martin is back in Seattle, he comes up with the idea of kidnapping her and then setting up a trade for Neriya. Riker hates Nicole because she is a member of the family that enslaved his wife and caused her death 20 years ago, just before the rebellion.

     Both Nicole and Riker have major tragedies in their pasts and neither has been able to fully deal with the emotional baggage that has crippled their lives. Each despises the other for reasons they soon find to be either untrue or at least not fully true. When Riker kidnaps Nicole and brings her to the MoonBound compound, both begin to realize that "facts" that they accepted as certainties must be re-examined.

     The romance plot is just as angst-filled and rocky as you would expect, with lots of anguished interior monologues and many misunderstandings. The action plot has two branches: the drama surrounding the retrieval of Neriya and the antagonism between MoonBound and ShadowSpawn, which progresses from threats into violence.

    Ione always does a great job with character development, and she shows off those writing talents again in this book. Nicole and Riker have well-developed back stories with deep emotional trauma, but their gradual move toward mutual forgiveness is quite believable. It's not one of those insta-matic romances. Although physical attraction between them is there from the beginning, they don't fall into deeply committed love immediately—far from it. Even though the action plot is a somewhat familiar one (the "scientists" who experiment on supernaturals), it has enough twists and turns that I was intrigued. I like the inventive vampire mythology and the fact that the vampires are not all highly cultured, human-like beings. Ione's vamps are just nontraditional enough to make them interesting and unpredictable. I'm definitely looking forward to the second book, which (I assume) will tell Hunter's story and will probably provide more information about the vamps' origin story. 

     Click HERE to read an excerpt from Bound by Night (scroll down a bit to find itjust below the video box).

             NOVEL 2:  Chained by Night             
Warning: This review contains spoilers for Bound by Night. 

     Near the end of the first novel, Hunter (leader of the MoonBound Clan) rescued Nicole (heroine of book 1) from the ShadowSpawn clan by agreeing to mate with Rasha, one of the twin daughters of Kars, the ShadowSpawn leader. Hunter despises Rasha because she is a cold, sarcastic, power-hungry woman who wants to be his mate only because she believes that she will be in a position to spy on the MoonBound Clan and to influence Hunter in future decision-making. Rasha and her sister, Aylin, are identical in appearance, but completely different in personality. Back in book 1 when Nicole was a ShadowSpawn captive, Rasha made life miserable for Nicole, while Aylin helped keep Nicole alive. 

     Among the ShadowSpawn, twins are viewed as a curse, and the second-born twin is usually put to death. Rasha was the perfectly formed first-born twin and Aylin was the crippled second-born, but for some reason, their father kept them both alive. (We learn the story behind this decision late in this book.) All her life, Aylin has been treated like dirtstarved, beaten, spat upon, sneered at, and generally despised by all of the ShadowSpawn clan members, including her father. As soon as Rasha is mated to Hunter, Aylin will be forced to mate with Tseeveyo, the cruel, polygamous leader of the NightShade Clan.

     As the story opens, Rasha and Aylin and their guards are walking toward MoonBound in preparation for the mating ceremony when they are attacked by human vampire hunters (aka poachers). Hunter and his warriors rescue them, but Hunter rescues Aylin instead of Rasha and has a passionate moment with her in an isolated cabin before he realizes that he has the wrong woman. But it's too late to retreat from their mutual attraction, which steams to a boil as the story progresses. 

     The main plot follows Hunter and Aylin as they go off on a quest to save the life of Hunter and Rasha's not-yet-conceived child from being taken at birth by a demon named Samnult. At this point in the story, we get more information on the origin of vampires, and that information is quite different from the Native American myth that we read about in book 1. In three sub-plots, increased numbers of human hunters are swarming the woods within MoonBound's lands; someone within MoonBound is a traitor who is smuggling information to ShadowSpawn; and one of Hunter's clan members has a history of intimacy with Rasha. Here is Hunter's summary of his sad situation late in the book: "He was about to be mated to a female he hated. A high-ranking clan male had betrayed him. The forest was crawling with humans who wanted to slaughter or enslave vampires. He suspected that someone in the clan was a spy. And the female he wanted…he couldn't have." So even though the primary romance involves a triangle, Ione gives it a dramatically different twist from the usual love triangle: H loves A; A loves H; and R loves herself but wants H for his power. 

     The romance plot has plenty of simmering sensuality and lots of angst-filled interior monologues, but the lovers' unhappiness is not caused by misunderstandings or arguments (as it usually is). Instead, Hunter moans about having to mate with Rasha and worries about his inherited tendency to lose himself in rage, while Aylin grieves over her loss of Hunter, her crippled leg, and her dreaded future with Tseeveyo. Rasha doesn't grieve over anything; she just wants to run MoonBound her way, with or without Hunter. Hunter and Aylin try to keep their lust under control during the time they spend all alone on their quest, but they soon discover the pleasure to be found in prolonged foreplay. So…plenty of breathlessly erotic love scenes. 

     Once again, Larissa Ione does a fine job in building her main characters, Hunter and the two sisters. Along with their full back stories, we are privy to their inner hopes and fears as well as to the complexities of their familial relationships. Ione even allows us a brief glimpse of Rasha's seldom-seen soft side as she tries to protect Aylin from the human hunters. Unfortunately, the primary villainsKars and Tseeveyoare one-dimensional caricatures with no depth at all. 

     This time around, there is no major cliff-hanger, but there are some loose plot threads. Future books will no doubt feature Samnult and his minions, who play a brief role in the requisite showdown battle at the end of the book. Additionally, I'm sure that we'll be getting the full story on Myne and Rasha, whose mysterious relationship helps to drive Hunter and Rasha apart. And then there is the problem of the increasing numbers of human vampire hunters who are being sponsored by the U.S. government. And, oh yes, the Daedalus Corporation is still actively experimenting on vampires. I'm looking forward to the next installment to see where Ione will take this series next. Click HERE to go to this book's page where you can read an excerpt by clicking on the cover art. 

     One final note: Don't believe the title and the cover art; there are no chains in this storynone at all. The single time that the heroine is restrained, the villains use duct tape. I guess the publisher decided that Duct-Taped by Night wasn't a very catchy title

last update of this post: 11/19/2016

No comments:

Post a Comment