Darkling (Sisters of the Moon, Book 3)
by Yasmine Galenorn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Darkling / 978-0-425-21893-8
The third in the Sisters of the Moon series, "Darkling" carries on the point-of-view cycle by moving to the third sister in the family - the ill-fated Menolly. Half-human and half-Fae like her sisters, her particular cross to bear is her hated vampirism. In the second book of the series, "Changeling", we learned that the sisters' old enemies were joining forces with the vampire group that tortured and turned Menolly, and "Darkling" follows that plot thread as a chance for Menolly to face her past demons and vanquish her old sire.
If I may get minor criticism out of the way first: "Darkling" carries on the proud Fantasy Kitchen Sink themes of this series, but via taking a minor left turn on "Fourth and Bananas", as it were - Loki the Trickster makes a special cameo appearance here, as does Morgaine and her Arturian crew in their quest for the Merlin - a plot point that will presumably become relevant later but does little to clear the air here and now. There's also the sudden and jarring introduction of a vampiric taboo against severing the magical lifeline between vampiric sire and child, as well as a similar taboo against murdering one's own sire - a strange plot point, given that (a) one would suspect that at least some vampiric children are sired unwillingly, and (b) if the D'Artigo sisters have cared about social niceties prior to now, that hasn't come through the narrative. Overall, it feels like a cheap shot to easily inject some quick angst (OMG! Now even the vampires will shun Menolly!) into an otherwise excellent setup of redemption and revenge.
These small criticisms aside, the novel readily redeems itself by maintaining this series' high aversion to angst levels - a particularly tricky thing to pull off in a novel that is largely about Menolly's torturous history and her working through the issues arising from the same. It's gratifying to see a rape victim portrayed with so much depth and sensitivity - Menolly has recovered from her torture through her strength and determination, but in order to truly be free from the magical ties that bind her to her sire, she must go through a sort of magical counseling session to work through her inner demons. Along the way, her sister Camille is able to see and relive Menolly's memories, and Menolly realizes that protecting her sisters from the knowledge of what happened to her will only drive a wedge between them in the long run, and she comes to trust that her sisters can handle the truth - a surprisingly deep philosophical conclusion from a "fluffy" fantasy series.
Although I enjoyed "Darkling" immensely and recommend it to fans of the series, it is important to note that this is a much darker novel than the first two entrants, as the plot focuses solidly on Menolly's torturous history, so be forewarned.
~ Ana Mardoll
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