Review: The Darkyn Series by Lynn Viehl

I recently finished reading the Darkyn series by Lynn Viehl (if you want a more in-depth and specific review, you can read what I thought of book one, If Angels Burn, here). I didn’t take in-depth notes, because I’ve been re-reading the series to destress while I move. I’ve decided that I will share my thoughts, but in a fairly informal way like I did last week, and I’ve split the bulk reviews into two sections both to keep the length down, and because I think it makes sense.

If Angels Burn stands alone, setting up the world and the main characters. Books two through four then follow fairly similar narrative arcs while progressing the overall storyline, and books five through seven break the mould in various ways. I was considering writing a short piece about vampires in fiction (very horny, usually problematic, often sexist but come around), or maybe strong female protagonists in vampire novels (usually short, often smart-mouthed, usually make their love interest come around) but I’m too tired for that. So instead, here are my brief thoughts on books 2, 3 and 4.

The covers are cohesive, if a bit uninspired. But considering how downright embarrassing romance novel covers can be, especially supernatural romance covers, I guess I should be happy there’s no fanged, shirtless male models or heaving bosoms

Book two is Private Demon, a book I like for several reasons. First, I like the way Alexandra’s character is explored in this book. Her relationship with Michael is tested, but with character-revealing moments, not pointless romantic angst. I also like the way she interacts with Valentin and Phillipe, and even Jema. I loved John’s storyline in this book, and really liked Hurley as a supporting character.  I wish Jamys had gotten more page-time, because I think the father-son dynamic could have really helped bring Thierry to life.

 I liked the way Jema was allowed to be unsympathetic at times, and I liked the way that women in this series are not presented as a monolith, with the same values, desires and reactions to things. I liked the way Jema’s illness impacted her life, but did not define her as a person, and while I personally don’t identify much with the way she navigates the world, I appreciated the way she was allowed to make her own decisions, and her romantic interest wasn’t treated as a prize to be given out as a reward for good behaviour. I was glad that the story didn’t follow the path you might expect it to at first, even if I thought some of the twists were a little far-fetched. I wish Thierry was fleshed out a little more as a character, because it would have made his relationship with Jema seem more natural.

Dark Need follows Lucan and Samantha, probably my favourite couple in the series. I think Sam’s plot line is vivid and compelling, and Lucan likewise is sympathetic, while still playing a magnificent villain at times. I must say though, I forgot how he acted in book one, and I do wish his problematic behaviour wasn’t glossed over quite so easily. This book really starts to add to the sci-fi aspect of the series, beyond the obvious (vampires). It introduces both seemingly unexplained abilities, and the idea of changelings; both of which are important for the overall plot, as well as working seamlessly within this book to add interest without seeming convenient or straining belief.

Once again, I found the twists at the end of this book took away from the enjoyment a little rather than adding, and Sam’s resemblance of Francis is never explained. Still, I love the way Sam interacts with Chris, Lucan, Raphael and Alexandra; and I thought Lucan was fleshed out well, with ample motivation for his actions and choices.

Night Lost is up next and even though I said the three books I’m reviewing today follow similar structures, Night Lost probably is the beginning of the change. Both Nicola and Gabriel are a little more weakly motivated than I’d prefer, but I think the plot of this book is interesting and I liked the sub-plot following Alexandra. I think Richard is a compelling character, and I enjoyed the exploration of John and Alexandra’s troubled sibling relationship.

I think Alexandra as a continued protagonist is a great choice, and the scientific and irreverent way she approaches century old traditions/people is consistently funny and entertaining. The Darkyn series definitely has problematic aspects that I didn’t really remember, chiefly l’attrait and the effect it has on consent, though that aspect is consistently pointed out by Alexandra and the other human women in the novels. I also think the commentary on racism, prejudice, greed, and the problem with blindly following orders (amongst the darkyn and the Brethren alike) are timeless themes that make the books resonate in a way that more straightforward paranormal romance might not.

Overall, I think the Darkyn series will appeal to fans of classic paranormal romance as I mentioned in my first review. Fans of Larissa Ione, Laurell K Hamilton, Sherrilyn Kenyon or Meljean Brooks will find plenty to enjoy in Lynn Viehl’s books.

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