Review request from the author. Thank you to M. R. Noble for the digital copy of Karolina Dalca, Dark Eyes in exchange for a review.
|Series: The Dark Eyes||Genre: Urban Fantasy/Thriller/Romance|
|Date of Publishing: December 16th 2020||Trigger Warnings: Vampires / Werewolves (blood, gore), syndicate crimes (human trafficking, drugs etc),|
|Page count: 201||Publisher: Wild Rose|
Blindsided by an attack that destroys her home and blamed for murder, Karolina Dalca, a half-vampire, escapes, only to plunge into the magical societies from which she was sheltered.
Betrayed by those around her, she abandons her dreams of becoming an investigator and flees, trusting only herself. Her police internship would never prove more useful. Hoofing it through the wilderness, she makes it to her university dorm, disheveled but delightfully deflowered.
Enter a full vampire: one wielding dark magic and a ride out of Canada. A fugitive from the law, Karo complies with his demands to escape, unsure whether his requests are bewitched. She vows to clear her name and avenge her mother’s death, but Karo’s family secrets aren’t so easily left behind.
“We were surrounded.
Andre swooped to a low crouch with his arms spread wide in front of me. His lips stripped back in a feral hiss. A crackling ball of violet lightning soared outward from him and immersed us in a large circular shield.
Our attackers each called up their own forms of magic. Black lightning crackled to life in the hands of some. Others swirled dark smoke back and forth in their palms. One man’s face twisted as he morphed the dirt into gleaming chunks of dark metal. A threatening mace formed between his hands. It floated in front of him in a fluid motion.”
I Am The Fire by Halestorm
I don’t read a lot in the vampire section of the genre but when M. R. Noble offered a copy of Karolina Dalca, Dark Eyes for review, I thought why not? This sounds fun, the cover was eye-catching (wink, wink) and I needed the change of pace this story promised.
Karolina Dalca dreams of being an investigator and is set to finish up her schooling when all hell breaks loose. While at home visiting, her mother is killed before her eyes when they are caught up in the crossfire of a Dryad hunt.
Her mother’s death catapults the story into high gear as Karolina is on the run out of fear of being blamed.
Help comes to her in the form of two men.
The first is her childhood friend and werewolf, Roman. Their families are close and even immigrated together. That connection between Karo and Roman gives them a closeness that Roman would like to build more upon.
And the second is the mysterious vampire Andre. He was sent by her dad’s side of the family to bring her home to Romania. Andre helps Karo out of a difficult situation, giving him an opportunity with her that he may not have had otherwise.
Karolina’s emotions are pulled towards each of the men for different reasons, but don’t let that potential love triangle scare you – there is very little time spent on sex or her pining over these men. The few scenes that did occur were quick, and incredibly tame, considering how sensuous they felt. Which sounds like an oxymoron but you’d have to read them to understand what I mean.
The story has a contemporary thriller feel; fast-paced action, twisty plot and foreign locales. The book sets-up and introduces us to Karolina’s world which is populated with the typical UF population; humans, vampires and werewolves, and Dyads (so far), and made me think of fun movies like Diesel’s XXX with those big organized crime families that have a global reach.
It’s pretty obvious to us, that Karolina’s father’s side of the family is embroiled in the underworld but just how deep-reaching they go, isn’t clear until later when she travels to Romania.
There is a lot of the vampire kind of horror – blood, big overpowered fights, and some pretty dark themes with the equivalent of human feed lots etc. but it’s balanced well with humorous exchanges and some really fun moments, like the body switch, which was so out of the left field and unexpected, that if I hadn’t enjoyed it for what it was, I would have loved it, just for surprising me with something different.
The magic is a blend of superpowered traits that are associated with vampires: strength and speed etc. but also “gypsy” magic of healing and earth magics. And then there is some fun stuff where they can bond, and I have to admit, I preferred this ‘born into the family’ brand of vampires and the bonding with the bites, or soul-sharing, over the traditional ‘turning everyone with a bite’. Especially when the races are a working part of the society, and not just the normal vampires and werewolves are monsters.
Karolina Dalca, Dark Eyes was a hard one to choose a final score for (books like this are why I hate ratings), it pushes that line a little in the believability (I know we are talking vampires/werewolves here) especially at the beginning with the police stuff etc. And Karo’s emotionally charged, and occasionally whiplash-inducing choices, were enough to rattle your brain at times.
But the story does a lot of things right, and has fun doing them…. I mean c’mon there was a body-switch. That fun, doesn’t-take-itself-too-seriously style, is what allowed me to sit back and really enjoy the ride.
Settle in somewhere because the relentless pace will make it hard for you to put Karolina Dalca, Dark Eyes down.