Author: Jocelynn Drake
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Stand Alone/ Series: Book one of the Dark Days series.
Summary: For centuries Mira has been a nightwalker—an unstoppable enforcer for a mysterious organization that manipulates earth-shaking events from the darkest shadows. But elemental mastery over fire sets her apart from others of her night-prowling breed . . . and may be all that prevents her doom.
The foe she now faces is human: the vampire hunter called Danaus, who has already destroyed so many undead. For Mira, the time has come to hunt . . . or be hunted.
Why Did I Read the Book: I saw some shout outs to the book at Ramblings on Romance and Urban Fantasy Land and got so stocked about it, I decided to create the courage to ask my contact at the publishers for a copy. She was kind enough to send it to me and I was not wrong about how good it would be! This book lived up to my expectations.
I am a newbie when it comes to Urban Fantasy as I am only now starting to delve into the genre but if the books tend to be as good as Nightwalker, I am prepared to go on a binge.
Nightwalker is an introduction to the world that Jocelynn Drake has created and as an introduction it sets the stage for the future novels. In this world, when the human race was born , two more races came into existence alongside them : the naturi and the bori. The naturi are the keepers of the earth and of what it’s nature related. They are separated in 5 clans: light, water, earth, wind, and animal. The bori are the guardians of the soul and we know very little about them. But about the naturi we know a lot (or so it seems): they are what humans have come to think of as fairies, elves, pixies but in this world they are as far from the benevolent representation of fairytales as possible. In fact, the naturi take their job so seriously, they wish to wipe out of the earth the corrupting presence of humans and of the nightwalkers (aka vampires), therefore they are a threat to everybody and absolutely TERRIFYING. In the 16th century, The Triad composed by three of the most powerful Nightwalkers managed to somehow (this is part of the secret of the novel, I shall not spoil) open a door to another dimension and seal most (“most” being the relevant word here) of the naturi , including their queen Aurora, out of the earth.
Enter Mira, our heroine and narrator of the book. Mira is a 603 year old vampire who likes to keep to herself, as far away as possible from the Ancients (nightwalkers more than 1000 years old) and the politics of the Coven (the rulers of the nightwalkers, headed by the Liege and seated in Venice). She has made a life for herself in the New World, as one of the oldest nightwalkers in the land and a Keeper of the Savannah Domain. As a Keeper her job is to keep the peace, to take care of her people and to avoid at all costs that humans find out that vampires are real. She is also known as the Fire Starter: she has the unique power to control and create fire that sets her apart from any other Nightwalkers and that is a powerful weapon for The Coven should they wish to use it.
At the beginning of the book Mira is preparing herself to fight a threat that is killing Nightwalkers in her Domain. There is a hunter on the lose and his name is Danaus. She has been following and observing him for a couple of weeks and it is now finally the time to meet and destroy him. They have a fight and Mira learns that 1) Danaus has more power and more strength than a normal human and 2) he is not out to kill her, quite the contrary, he wants her help. Danaus works for an organization called Themis that observes and study (and eventually destroy) the Nightwalkers and other fantastical beings. In their observations they have found out that the naturi are back and they are preparing sacrificing rituals with the goal of breaking the seal that keep them away. Should they succeed, no one is safe.
That is Mira’s number one nightmare. Right before the naturi were purged from the earth, she was kidnapped by them and tortured for two weeks until the triad came to liberate her and to finish them off. She is therefore, in a position to help Danaus since she knows who the members of the triad are. Danaus and Mira decide on a temporary truce so that they go in search of the people that can help. Their first stop is Egypt where they must meet the Ancient Jabari , Mira’s former lover and mentor and one of the most powerful Nightwalkers; but things don’t turn out as they hoped with Jabari furious with Mira for bringing Danaus to him (cue to a fantastic fight scene with Mira and Danaus protecting each other) . Still he has no choice but to help and decides the best course is to send Mira to England in search for the other two members of the triad – one of them being Mira’s own Sire, Sadira, whom she is sent to protect. Many complications ensue as they fight against time, against powerful beings that may not have Mira’s well-being and freedom at their hearts whilst Mira struggles to understand what exactly is her role in all of that. Plus, for Mira and Danaus there is still the fact they have sworn to kill each other.
I am completely impressed with this book. This is a hard review to write as there is so much to be said about the world building, the intricate politics of the Nightwalkers and the dynamics of the relationships between all characters – between Mira and Jabari and Sadira, between Mira and Danaus, Mira and her human companions and bodyguards and Mira and the local pack of werewolves.
Mira is a fantastic protagonist. She is not abrasive or smart-mouthed but she is strong and resilient and prepared to do what she must in order to save herself. It is also hinted that Mira was fire starter even before becoming a Nightwalker and that it may have been the reason why she was chosen by Sadira to become a vampire in the first place– perhaps as a tool and as weapon destined to obey the ones that created her. But Mira even though bound by these rules, fights for her independence with everything that she has.
She is a vampire well settled in her ways whilst at the same time maintaining a hint of humanity – it is interesting to observe her interactions with her two human bodyguards, for example who she call her “angels”. She has feelings of protectiveness for both of them, Gabriel and Michael. With Michael she also has an on and off sexual relationship and he also provides some of the blood that she needs. It is in this relationship that we can perceive the main struggle of Mira’s life – at some level she loves Michael, she admires and respects him but she also needs him – for comfort, for blood, for sex, for companionship and the warmth that is denied to her as a Nightwalker; but at the same she is who she is, and she will not go very far with him because there is a toll for humans that stay near vampires for a long time and that toll is much more than she can bear. Other vampires do not care about that though, another trait that sets her apart from some of her kind. She is no saint but she certainly is no evil.
And this confuses and Danaus, our other protagonist who has always been taught, who has always believed that Nightwalkers are the absolute Evil and must be destroyed at all costs. The fact that not all of them are the same, that they are just like humans – some good, some bad – is a complete wake up call.
Danaus is a mysterious character and we know very little about him especially as we do not share his point of view. But what we know, it’s enough for me to already be halfway in love with him. I loved Danaus and Mira’s interactions and I so want to read more– there is an undeniable attraction between them but also the promise that they one day, will fight to death – “as God intended” says Danaus in the end. For the time being, they are allies, on the way to becoming friends and perhaps even (please Jocelynn Drake) lovers. But all is up for grabs at the moment. (But I do have a Grand Theory of who Danaus really is and it has to do with the power that he has. It all spells B-O-R-I to me – but I may be wrong).
The end is open and nothing has been settled. Some mysteries, especially of who or what Mira is and what was her role that day when the naturi were defeated have been clarified. The naturi are still a threat, the seal is about to the broken and Danaus and Mira must go to Venice to meet with the Coven.
Nightwalker is a prologue to the Dark Days series: it sets things in motion, introduces us to the players and to the world and it is the launching of the war that is to come between Nightwalkers and naturi. As far as debuts go, this one has kept me guessing, kept me entertained, and kept me enthralled. I could not ask for more.
If any of the aforementioned hasn’t spelled for you: get thee to a bookshop NOW.
Notable quotes/Parts: My poor deluded romantic heart could not help but to love all the interactions between Mira and Danaus – be it when they are fighting each other, teasing each other or uniting against a common threat and combining their powers. I can feel that there is the potential for a love story there but to be honest, it could go in any direction – they can end up being friends, lovers or enemies. I am rooting for lovers of course, but that is just silly old me.
Additional Thoughts: COME BACK TOMORROW FOR AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH JOCELYNN DRAKE AND A CHANCE TO WIN ONE OF THE TWO COPIES OF NIGHTWALKER THAT WE HAVE TO GIVE AWAY!
Verdict: I believe this is the beginning of a fantastic series and anyone who likes reading Urban Fantasy should run, not walk, to a book shop.
Rating: 7 VERY GOOD. Missing on a higher grade because crazy that I am , I am saving it for the other books in the series.
Reading next: Before the Scandal by Suzanne Enoch