Author: Rachel Caine
Publisher: Allison & Busby (UK)
Released: 2nd May 2013
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
I'm sure I don't need to tell you how I was feeling or what my expectations were when I started this - the fact that I'm still here reading this series, fourteen books in, speaks for itself. While Fall of Night didn't have that extra spark that some of the other books did, Rachel Caine, once again, did not let me down.
In this penultimate instalment of the Morganville Vampires, it's time for a change of scene. Claire is leaving Morganville and heading to MIT. Saying goodbye to her friends - not to mention Shane - is one of the most difficult things she's had to do, but she needs to do this. She needs to leave, for a number of reasons, and not for anyone else, but herself. At MIT she's enrolled in a special study programme where she'll be working with Professor Irene Anderson, also of Morganville. This is a chance for Claire to work on VLAD, her machine that should, in theory, eventually be able to cancel out vampiric abilities. But where anything even remotely relating to Morganville is concerned, trouble is never far behind. Claire thought the outside world would be safer than Morganville. Truth is, it might be even worse.
Taking the storyline outside of Morganville was, I thought, a nice change. And I also like the direction Caine has taken with this series. I liked the draug, I thought they were an intriguing twist, but I can see how they might be considered as nothing more than a tool to elongate the series. For me, this book brought a more natural turn of events, and it certainly sets the basis for what should hopefully be an amazing finale. It does take some time for the pace to pick up and the action to kick in, but once it did I was fully hooked. I think the first half to two thirds is more character-focused, especially with Claire getting acclimated to her new surroundings and being on her own. This book is split only into two POVs, that of Shane and Claire, which I actually thought was really nice.
Now. Speaking of characters. There is something of a mixed bunch in here. I loved Jesse, and when I found out who she actually was, the history geek in me was thrilled. Myrnin was amazing and sweet; I love that vampire so much. Claire is, of course, as kickass as ever, making the best of situations that are out of control. Actually I felt really bad for her, because some of the things she had to do to make it out alive - for them all to make it out alive - didn't necessarily warm her to other characters, and she had to make some difficult decisions. The two characters who grated on my nerves were Liz and Eve. Are you surprised at my mentioning Eve? I'll come to her in a minute. Liz is Claire's housemate and her old best friend from high school. Despite her bad experiences, I could only feel the barest of sympathy for her. I found her to be an exceptionally annoying character who didn't know how to stand up for herself or learn from her past mistakes, and the choices she made were far from wise. In truth, she grew to be quite a pathetic presence in the book. Now, Eve...I had already been somewhat irritated with her in Bitter Blood; for someone who sees Claire as a sister, she was incredibly quick to turn on her. And the same happened here. After all they have been through together, it seems she really does not trust Claire. And because of that, I actually found myself wishing that Claire had a better set of friends. Because - and it pains me to say this - at this point it doesn't seem as if any of them are worthy of her. And much as I love Shane, that does kind of include him.
In some ways, then, this instalment did bring disappointment; it wasn't as good as could be hoped, and my love of this set of four friends has somewhat diminished because of the way they've been starting to treat each other, particularly when it comes to Claire, who, let's not forget, was the newcomer to this group. I think Eve particularly has become something of a weak point. Nevertheless, there is something about Rachel Caine's writing that draws me in, and while I can see that this is not as strong as it could be, that did not stop me from enjoying it. Indeed, with how this one ended, I am left crying for that final book.
Thank you to the lovely Emma for joining me in a read-along!