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Deaths Mistress Cover Picture

Death’s Mistress

Karen Chance

Published 2010          422 pages

Summary (from the book jacket)

Dorina Basarab is a dhampir - half-human, half-vampire - and the only way she can stay sane is by unleashing her sometimes uncontrollable rage on demons and vampires that deserve killing.

After the fortunate demise of her insane uncle Dracula, Dory is back home in Brooklyn, hoping that life will calm down for a while. But then two visitors arrive: her friend Claire, asking for Dory's help in finding a magical Fey relic, and the gorgeous master vampire Louis-Cesare, desperate to find his former mistress, a vampire named Christine.

Dory and Louis-Cesare soon discover their problems may be connected: the same master vampire Christine is bound to is also rumoured to be in possession of the relic. But they soon realize there's more at stake when Christine's master turns up dead. Someone is killing vampire Senate members, and if Dory and Louis-Cesare can't stop the murderer, they may be next . . .

The Review

Death’s Mistress is the second book featuring Karen Chance’s vampire-slaying dhampir heroine Dory Basarab. The first book in this series, Midnight’s Daughter, introduced readers to dhampir Dory and set-up her relationship with her would-be vampire lover Louis-Cesare. Events in Death’s Mistress follow on from about a month after where Midnight’s Daughter left off and since the story has characters and a romance plotline that spans both books, I’d recommend reading Midnight’s Daughter before starting Death’s Mistress.

The Dory Basarab books are a spin-off series from Chance’s popular Cassie Palmer urban fantasy series and, like the original Cassie Palmer books, have the author’s trademark frantic fast-pacing and complex plotting. Death’s Mistress rockets along at a great pace and effortlessly pulls readers along for the ride, which sees Dory battling the Fey Prince who tried so hard to kill her in Midnight’s Daughter while she searches for a stolen Fey rune that promises invincibility in battle to its wearer.

The relic is so powerful that soon the entire vampire senate is after it too, all of the ancient vampires having their own political or personal reasons for wanting the rune. Louis-Cesare comes back into Dory’s life as he too searches for the rune - which he needs to pay the ransom on Christine, his vampire mistress who was kidnapped over a hundred years ago. Unfortunately all the vampires connected with the relic keep turning up dead - while the rune itself remains nowhere to be found.

With a plot that spans the lay-line racing World Championship, illegal Fey artefact smuggling, mysterious murders, the machinations of the Fey royal court and the political manoeuvrings of the vampire senate, readers will need to be paying attention to all the twists and turns along the way or risk being left behind. My main criticism of Karen Chance’s later Cassie Palmer books has been that the frantic pacing combined with constant time-line jumps is hard to follow. Death’s Mistress has the fast pacing but the plot’s linear timeframe makes it easier to follow.

In addition to action packed plotlines Karen Chance is also well known for her imaginative use of fantasy mythology in building the diverse collection of humorous characters that populate her novels. Snappy dialogue is always a given and Death’s Mistress has no shortage on this front. Comedy value is provided by Ray, the headless vampire, who Dory was taking back to senate headquarters for questioning. Cutting off a master vampire’s head is a great way to get their attention since they don’t die straight away, can still speak and can even be put back together again at a later date if necessary.

Unfortunately, before Dory can deliver Ray’s head to her boss a whole host of other problems crop up and she is forced to take his body parts with her as she dodges dangerous vampires and Fey assassins. Considering she cut off his head Ray takes all the ensuing mayhem quite well, leading to some genuinely laugh-out-loud funny passages in the book.

Romantic interest is provided by Louis-Cesare, a studly master vampire who genuinely believes in honour and loyalty. When he is combined with Dory’s tough, yet vulnerable, lonely character the pair’s relationship gives the story an emotional depth that some urban fantasy novels lack. 

With its vamp-centric storyline Death’s Mistress is recommended reading for vampire fantasy fans and makes a great addition to the Dory Basarab series. Fans will be pleased to know that Karen Chance has been contracted to write a third book in this series. Personally I can hardly wait to see where the author takes these characters next!

LoveVampires Review Rating:

Review Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

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