Berkley, Jun 7 2011, $15.00
In the middle of the twenty-first century, the first power grid failed in Eastern Europe; soon others followed as the east coast of America went dark while the wave continued to cross the broken country. Some claimed the End of Days Rapture had begun; while others insisted nuclear meltdowns and WMDs as the causes.
Her late dad predicted the end of days as the demise of technology followed by the Change, but Jenna Barclay thought her father was a survivalist lunatic. In Oregon the grid still works, but for how much longer? Former Marine John Mason owes a life debt to Jenna’s late father and pays the first installment by kidnapping his deceased guru’s daughter to take her to safety in the remote wild just before the magical change begins. Jenna thinks her abductor is as crazy as her dad was until mutant dogs attack them followed by meeting three adults and two children fleeing violent inhuman predators. Neither Jenna nor John is prepared for the Change that comes to them.
The first Dark Age Dawning thriller starts off as a science fiction collapse of civilization but deftly switches into a post-apocalyptic survivor fantasy reminiscent of Sterling E. Lanier’s Hiero’s Journey. The story line is fast-paced from the moment John takes Jenna to the cabin her father prepared for her. Aptly titled as Nightfall has fallen putting out the lights of civilization though pockets of packs change yet retain the essence of what is human in the new lethal world. Harriet Klausner
The Vampire Narcise
Mira, May 24 2011, $14.95
Lucifer supplicant Cezar Moldavi knows his strongest weapon in his war against other Dracule elements is his seductive sister Narcise who he once gave to his Master. Cezar takes pleasure watching her out-duel men in sword play while keeping her imprisoned. Only one male meant anything to Narcise, but a decade ago mercenary Giordan Cale betrayed her by selling out to her odious sibling rather then keep his promise to free her.
In 1803 in Paris, vampire hunter Chas Woodmore helps Narcise escape from her brother’s house of torture. He takes her to London where she encounters Giordan, who owns a club. Giordan never forgot the woman he cherishes and surrendered all to her brother to take her with him, but received nothing except a broken heart. They still want each other, but she never forgets so she uses the enthralled vampire hunter as her tool to get at her only beloved. At the same time an outraged Cezar and his horde invade London.
The third Regency Draculia romantic fantasy (See The Vampire Voss and The Vampire Dmitri) is a terrific thriller in which betrayal is the key element as once burned by something worse than the sun leaves no one trusting anyone else. Fast-paced, fans anticipate the war of the Dracule as blood may be thicker than water, but will hatred prove stronger than love. Harriet Klausner
The Last Werewolf
Knopf, Jul 12 2011, $25.95
Two centuries old Jake Marlowe is depressed in spite of the fact his physical health is good, he gets all the sex he craves and his high red meat diet is perfect for his metabolism as human fresh flesh is a delight. His despondency is caused by learning from his only friend Harley, who hacked into the World Organization for the Control of Occult Phenomena (WOCOP) database that the other remaining werewolf was just killed.
Jake considers suicide though that would make his species extinct. Meanwhile the vampires hunt him for a purpose that only a bloodsucker would comprehend; while a high ranking WOCOP official stalks him seeking vengeance for Jake dining on his father. Being hunted is not new to The Last Werewolf, but when backed to a cage wall the predator takes over as Jake hunts the hunters.
Jake is a fantastic intelligent and witty protagonist obsessed with the duo needs of sex and eat as he rarely psychologically moves above the Physiological lowest level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs; except when his life is at stake he climbs to the next level of personal Safety. The biographical fiction story line is driven by the title character who turns beastly when he hungers for sex or food; preferably together. Harriet Klausner
Deeper Than Midnight
Dell, Jun 28 2011, $7.99
The vampire myth began when eight ancient outworlders came to earth and mated with those females who wore a Breed mark because they are capable of baring a Breed male offspring. In time, the sons turned against their evil and cruel sires, but one escaped their wrath and hid in hibernation.
In the present, Dragos imprisoned him and forced him to copulate with Breedmates. The Children of that union were Gen X warriors, who were more powerful than most of the breed. Dragos puts a slave collar on these children as he trains them to be amoral ruthless killers. Dragos’ enemy The Order liberates one of his killers Hunter who vows to kill his vicious jailer and his psychopathic brothers. The Order raid a compound and free Corrine Bishop held prisoner by their evil adversary for decades. When she and Hunter meet, there is an instant attraction, but neither can accept the soft feelings; he never knew love only hate and she had love tortured out of her. While fleeing from Dragos’ henchmen, Corrine resolutely wants to find her son Nathan, but conceals this from her escort until they make love. Hunter believes Corrine is setting herself up for heartbreak and perhaps death because like him her son is a trained ruthless killer. She persuades him they should try.
The ninth Midnight Breed romantic fantasy is a fantastic entry that is as great as its predecessors (see Taken by Midnight). The story is told from multiple viewpoints; readers will find especially refreshing and fascinating understanding how a breed feels when he enters the Bloodlust stage before he turns into a mindless Rogue who cares only about drinking human blood. The Adrian vampire mythos expands as series fans will appreciate the meaning of Home. Harriet Klausner