October 27, 2010

Review: Eternal Kiss of Darkness by Jeaniene Frost

Eternal Kiss of Darkness
Author: Jeaniene Frost
Publisher: Avon
Series: Night Huntress World, Book 2
ISBN: 0061783161
Purchase Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Powells | The Book Depository

For more information please visit Jeaniene Frost’s website.

Chicago private investigator Kira Graceling should have just kept on walking. But her sense of duty refused to let her ignore the moans of pain coming from inside a warehouse just before dawn. Suddenly she finds herself in a world she’s only imagined in her worst nightmares.

At the center is Mencheres, a breathtaking Master Vampire who thought he’d seen it all. Then Kira appears—this fearless, beautiful…human who braved death to rescue him. Though he burns for her, keeping Kira in his world means risking her life, yet sending her away is unthinkable.

But with danger closing in, Mencheres must choose between the woman he craves, or embracing the darkest magic to defeat an enemy bent on his eternal destruction.


As an avid lover of Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series, including her new spin off series the Night Huntress World, I was a little disappointed at first blush when it came to Eternal Kiss of Darkness. It seemed to lack the traits that I’ve come to expect from Frost’s work-a certain amount of sass and sarcasm as well as full throttle action and steamy romance. However, while it may have started more slowly for me then her previous books it finished with her usual flair and became yet another wonderful installment that shouldn't be missed.

Mencheres has always been something of a secondary character in the Night Huntress series though he's always been quite interesting. Previously we were given only short glimpses at him and his powers, but have always been well aware of his Master status within the vampire world. So, because of this you can understand my reaction when in the first chapter he is allowing himself to be captured and tortured by Ghouls. It is only after Kira, a good Samaritan and human, risks her life rescuing him that he lashes out against his captors killing them almost instantly, but not before Kira is mortally wounded. Feeling a debt to the woman, he heals her but is unable to mesmerize her, a way to effectively remove the memories of what transpired from her memory. With only the option of killing her or waiting for a time when she may be more susceptible to him, he chooses to take her with him.

It is from there that my problems with the novel stem. As we first begin to get to know Mencheres, he is apathetic to say the least. He is world weary and with his visions of the future gone he is left with only a looming darkness in its stead which he takes to mean that his time on this Earth is ending. Because of this he has appointed Bones the co-ruler of his line and imparted a great deal of his powers to him in his effort to tidy up his affairs and leave his vampire line protected. But, with the appearance of Kira into his life we find that there is more beneath the apathy in his character. By contrast he is also charming, generous and still quite powerful with an uncanny control of both himself and his powers. In other words, there is nothing old about him. In fact I would say that he greatly values life (human and vampire), but because of his recent history he is weighed down and in desperate need of a beacon in the looming darkness to give him a reason to carry on. However, we come to see that instead of the comfort of friends he only feels distrust towards those around him, thinking that anyone who would want to get close to him is only interested in his power, wealth and protection, but not actually in him. It’s these insecurities that truly grated on my nerves as he pines for Kira, opting to stalk her rather then get close to her and give her a chance to like the man that he is. Which honestly, from where I sit, isn't bad at all.

Kira is likewise maddening, however. She is instantly attracted to Mencheres, but due to her captivity she feels she can’t trust that feeling. Instead she believes it might be a reaction of Stockholm syndrome, a syndrome where the captive falls in love with her captor. But, after Mencheres lets her go free with only a promise from her to not tell the human world about his kind, she comes to realize that she truly does want him in her life. In fact, that she may even love the vampire. Needless to say, she almost recklessly goes looking into any supernatural lead that she can find to help her search out Mencheres or someone that can lead her to him. Instead she finds a human girl that has been missing for several years being held prisoner by a vampire as his Property. Foolishly, she tries to extricate the woman, but is captured and tortured by the vampire until spilling Mencheres’s name.

It isn’t until this point that the pace begins to finally pick up and we become steeped in the action of a centuries old feud and the romance between Kira and Mencheres as they finally begin to accept that they have feelings towards each other. Mencheres also begins to open up, revealing why it is he feels that he is not deserving of her love, or anyone's for that matter which is where I truly began to feel affection towards the character and the dark complexity of his nature. While fiercely loyal he feels a great sense of responsibility for actions of others that are not within his control, thinking instead that if he had chosen to do something or intervene sooner that that particular fate could have been avoided.

Truly the characterization of this novel is much deeper then in previous ones. Both characters are in possession of great vulnerabilities yet each has their own inner strength. In the end they become a sort of yin-and-yang for each other, giving support and power to the other, be it physical or emotional. Also, instead of playing on what we expect to see (i.e. the wit and instant action) we are led on a journey with these characters. To me, after realizing this, the action of the novel became secondary to the evolution of the characters and from there I enjoyed the book immensely. Likewise, the secondary characters involved have a larger then life depth with multiple facets to their personalities. Most notably the villain of the story Radjedef who wields his centuries old animosity toward Mencheres displaying a patient conniving intelligence nurtured by a deep seeded feeling of being wronged. Where Mencheres often wants to take the blame for others, Radje feels that everyone but himself is to blame. And you can't forget Vlad Tepish…yep, that’s right, even Dracula himself makes an appearance, but he isn't the typical Draconian figure. Instead he's got a vitality and youth that gives him a charismatic magnetism that I really enjoyed reading. I can only hope that he will end up with his own tale in the Night Huntress World because I would truly enjoy seeing his story told, especially his tiff with Bones.

Like the characters the world this series takes place in is just as well built. The mythos of the vampire and ghoul cultures is nicely explained and explored as is the varying histories of the characters. The only thing I would have liked to have seen a bit more of in this particular novel was the Egyptian lore tying back to Mencheres. While we do get a few tidbits about the Egytpian gods, the magics and a very brief look at his stint as a Pharaoh in the 4th Dynasty, I was still left a little lacking about his past. There was just so much there that could have been explored instead of his stalking and skulking through the first half of the novel.

Overall, this was a great read with interesting and strong characters, even if they did start off a little lost. The journey back to finding their strength was wonderful to watch unfold as was the romance that sparked between Mencheres and Kira. This is definitely another wonderful installment into the Night Huntress World that I suggest you shouldn't miss.

My Rating: 4 out 5 Scars

Advisory: Some sexual content

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