Review: King of Darkness by Elisabeth Staab

Format read: ebook purchased from Amazon
Formats available: mass market paperback, ebook
Genre: paranormal romance
Series: Chronicles of Yavn, #1
Length: 343 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date Released: February 7, 2012
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Eternal commitment is not on her agenda…

Scorned by the vampire community for her lack of power, Isabel Anthony lives a carefree existence masquerading as human—although, drifting among the debauched human nightlife, she prefers the patrons’ blood to other indulgences. But when she meets the king of vampires this party girl’s life turns dark and dangerous.

But time’s running out for the king of vampires…

Dead-set on finding the prophesied mate who will unlock his fiery powers, Thad Morgan must find his queen before their race is destroyed. Their enemies are gaining ground, and Thad needs his powers to unite his subjects. But when his search leads him to the defiant Isabel, he wonders if fate has gotten it seriously wrong…

At first I thought it was more than a bit derivative that the vampires in Elisabeth Staab’s King of Darkness referred to themselves as “males” and “females” instead of men and women. It sounded way too Black Dagger Brotherhood to me.

Then I thought about it. They aren’t actually men, or women. Are they? In Staab’s series (and BDB) the vampires are a distinct species from birth, not humans turned vamp. Man is a word for a human male. We don’t have a generally accepted term for vampire male. And let’s not think about vampirella. Please.

After I got that through my head, I was just grateful not to see any of the tortured spelling BDB uses in its naming.

About the story of King of Darkness, well, there are some elements that have been around the vampire block before. The new, untried king needs to find his fated mate.

Not all vamps have one. He’s special. (I was not looking forward to the rest of the series using this trope. Seriously.)

And just because they are destined, doesn’t mean that new king Thad and his mate Isabel fall into instant love. They don’t. Isabel has an instant panic attack. Seems like a sensible reaction to me.

There is a certain amount of instant lust, once Isabel gets coaxed out of her retreat to the bathroom. But instant understanding, not at all.

Then the feces hits the oscillating device, and the pace never lets up.

They’re attacked by wizards. While wizards may seem overused as a concept, I’d rather see power attached to something I understand than evil smelling like baby powder. Evil acts evil, looks evil and smells evil.

The wizards want to wipe out the vampires, one heart at a time. Eating the heart of their enemies (literally) is how they gain power. Neat, has a real mythological basis, and totally sick.

The wizards are after Thad’s sister, Tyra, for nefarious reasons of their own.

Thad’s destiny requires that he find his mate before he comes into his power, whatever that might be.

Isabel doesn’t believe that she is good enough to be Queen.

Thad learns that he has to “vampire up” to be King, to be who Isabel needs, and to take of his people. His father has been dead for months, and his people need him.

Can he do it soon enough and well enough (finally!) to save everyone he holds dear? And should he let Isabel go?

Escape Rating B+: I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this. Thad is young and shows a lot of insecurities, but he keeps going. At the same time, he’s finally figured out that he has to suck it up and deal with being the king, whether he thinks he’s adequate or not.

Isabel has always lived outside vampire society. She has no belief in herself. Now she’s in the middle, and isn’t sure she should try to be Queen. Watching the two of them misunderstand their own needs is hurtful, but real.

And the collateral damage effects are fascinating. The most interesting character is Alexia, Isabel’s human friend. Her heart is always on her sleeve. She’s been sucked into the vampire court unwillingly, but she’s more flexible than Isabel. She’ll make a place for herself, and she grounds Isabel in what matters most. I hope Alexia gets her own story later!

Meanwhile, if you’re interested how things work out for Thad’s sister Tyra, her story makes up the central plot of Prince of Power, and it’s not only out now, but it’s even better than King of Darkness. Check out my review of Prince of Power over at Book Lovers Inc. later today for all the details!

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