Book Critique - Dark Dream (The Carpathian Novels #7)

For reviews of other books in this series: Go here

For reviews of other books in this anthology: Go here

Stars: 3.5 / 5

Recommendation: If you like paranormal plots with hint of romance, eroticism and the other world abilities involving immortals and vampires along-side humans with super-abilities, then this is a series to go for.

Dark Dream is the seventh book in the longest series, Dark Series, by Christine Feehan which was published in September of 2001. The book was released as a novella as part of the anthology After Twilight along with novellas from two other authors - Amanda Ashley and Ronda Thompson. I might perhaps write a review of those two novellas too later but for now the review is restricted to Dark Demon.

Just like her previous books in the series, this novella also won the 2001 PEARL Award for Best Anthology and for Best Novella / Short Story: Dark Dream. The plot tells the story of Falcon - an ancient Carpathian - and Sara Marten - a human psychic and rescuer of street children. The story plot in this book is set a few months after the sixth book Dark Fire. 

The previous two books Dark Challenge and Dark Fire are part of a trilogy within the series. However Christine hadn't set this novella as part of the trilogy instead has taken it in a complete different direction. I wondered why she had done so until I came across her note about this novella on her website. She had mentioned that she came across an article in a magazine about "sewer children" living in the sewers of Romania and how a woman from United States went to rescue them. Christine mentioned that she had this woman in her mind while she was writing about her heroine Sara Marten for this novella.

That little note from Christine did shed a light for my question. I am guessing finding that little article made her to write this novella and deviate from her trilogy. Now I would have to read the remaining books after this to see when she would finish this first trilogy within the series.

Carpathians are a powerful and ancient race who are near-immortals living for thousands of years with powers and gifts that no man can fathom. Despite their gifts and extended lifespans, they are at the age of extinction as fewer and fewer children are being borne and far lesser of females. Without their female counterpart aka "lifemates" the male Carpathians lose the ability to feel emotions leaving the males with hard choice: either become vampire or "greet the dawn" (i.e. commit suicide). Now that Prince Mikhail Dubrinsky finds a lifemate in a human female who has immense psychic abilities and is capable of converting, there is hope for all the other Carpathian males who have been holding off from turning into vampires – the very creature that they hunt and kill to save the humans and Carpathians alike.

Sara Marten, a rich benefactor, who wants to spend her time and money in rescuing the children from sewers. Her ambition takes her to Romania, close to Carpathian Mountains, where she is on the verge to adopt seven kids - three girls and four boys - all psychic in nature. Her venture puts her in the sights of Falcon - an ancient Carpathian - who has come back to Carpathian Mountains centuries after he had left, on the verge of his existence. And Falcon finds his mate in Sara. But Sara is not coming just with her wish to adopt these seven kids but also much more sinister background. Will she be Falcon's true savior? Or will her past be his disaster? That is what is told in the rest of the plot.

For a novella, Christine had given quite a bit of story about Carpathians all along weaving a plot around Falcon and Sara. We get to see why these ancient Carpathians whom we have been meeting lately, have left the Carpathian Mountains in the first place. We also get to meet Vladimir Dubrinsky, Mikhail Dubrinsky's father, albeit briefly. We get a bit more glimpse of Gabriel Daratrazanoff and Lucian Daratrazanoff making me wonder if Christine would steer her pen towards them in her next novel. 

Christine also introduces about Jaguar species - powerful people with great psychic talents but living solitary lives. Vladimir warns the ancients not to meddle or tangle with the Jaguar Species although their species is dwindling. So it's another obvious segue that she would be including the Jaguar Species in her future books.

Again it is amazing that Christine finds the perfect woman for her Carpathian hunters. Falcon who had always lived in dark and was coming closer to his darkness is understood exactly as is by Sara. For she had lived in shadows and learned to understand the darkness. 

Christine also hadn't made this a complete plot of just Falcon and Sara. Like before she includes other Carpathians seamlessly in there. We meet the Dubrinskys - Mikhail and his lifemate Raven, Jacques and his lifemate Shea (both of their stories we had read in the first book Dark Prince and the second book Dark Desire) - and Gary Jansen - the human who tied himself to the Carpathians in helping them in every way humanely possible, who come to the aid of Falcon and Sara when in need.

 On a side note, I see card inserts for free books in this book as well. I don’t think anyone uses this format anymore. Oh I wish one would, it is so nostalgic. Also at the end of the book there is a page highlighting about Dorchester Publishing Company and how to reach them online as well as via phone. Although their website dorchesterpub.com doesn’t seem to be existing anymore, apparently the company also doesn’t exist anymore per Wiki. More about that company here. I tried the 1-800 number and it rings but no one answers it and their mail box is filled too. I guess they are closed for good.

Another powerful erotic plot woven by Christine Feehan keeping us thoroughly entertained and immersed into the world of Carpathians. As always the fight scenes are excellent and love scenes are very romantic. For a novella, Christine brought a load of sub-plots that are exciting, intriguing and interesting for a reader to look forward to. I know I am. Are you too, my friend? Watch this space for more reviews of the next books in the series.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) Plot reveals:

a. Vladimir Dubrinsky sends the efficient hunters of his race out into the world to protect humans and Carpathians alike from the Vampires - Carpathians who turned and sold their soul to their darkness. 

b. Gabriel Daratrazanoff and Lucian Daratrazanoff are twins and children of Vladimir's own second-in-command. A clear segue linking Gregori, Darius and Desari Daratrazanoff as their siblings. Although we did know that from Julian Savage's tale that he gives to Desari about her lineage in Dark Challenge.

c. The protagonist Falcon had been sent to Italy while the antagonist had been sent to Egypt then.

d. Christine introduces the Jaguar Species with this plot albeit only as a conversation by Vladimir Dubrinsky. However, we as readers all know that this is an obvious segue with regards to her upcoming books and what we could see. In this case, we will see plots around Jaguar pretty soon.

e. Sara Marten adopts seven sewer children - three girls and four boys - all with psychic abilities. Raven muses that perhaps the three girls could grow up to become lifemates for the Carpathians who are waiting and holding on. 

f. The antagonist Vampire who was after Sara Marten as he needed her help to track the tomb of the master wizard and book of knowledge that will give anyone who holds that book untold power. Another insight into what Christine would bring to the reader in her Carpathian books.

2) Sub-Plots:

a. Christine reveals the possibility of more Carpathians being settled in South America as part of a discussion between Julian and Darius in the fifth book Dark Challenge. Another segue into future plots that could be set in South America.

b. Cullen Tucker, a human, joins the singing troupe Dark Troubadours, in the sixth book Dark Fire (Review here), when he braves the Society, goes against them and comes to the troupe to warn them of the evil plans. I don’t remember him much in the first time I read these books, only that Gary Jansen had been a constant through the series. May be this time around I will find more about him.

c. Gary Jansen is for the first time introduced in the fourth book, Dark Magic (Review here). Having already read the remaining books I totally forgot when Gary's character was introduced. It has been 18 years that his character has surfaced and I still didn’t see a story for him. Not sure what is Christine waiting for but would love to see his story soon.

d. I still would love to ask Christine Feehan when I meet as to why she didn’t have Barack claim Syndil early on, why make him wait till after Darius makes his clam on Tempest in the sixth book Dark Fire? Also why not a separate book or a novella for Barack and Syndil instead of spreading their story within two books - fifth book Dark Challenge and sixth book Dark Fire?

e. Perils that the Carpathians face:

i. In the second book, Dark Desire (Review here), Rand mixes some kind of poison in his blood and infects Jacques and Byron which causes them to severe the mental path the Carpathians share. I have to see if in future books Christine elaborates on this and finds a remedy for the Carpathians.

ii. Few children who have born are Males, most not surviving the first year of their life. No one knows why females are rarely born, although now they discover that paring a Carpathian male to a Human psychic female will give them female kids. However, no one knows why most kids don’t survive the first year.

iii. Vampires are congregating suddenly and attacking in coordinated methods as opposed to their solitary existence posing a tough battle for Carpathian hunters while hunting them.

iv. Vampires also learned a hypnotic dance that they try in hoping to transfix the Carpathian hunters during the battle. 

v. Society of Human Vampire Hunters who constantly hunt the Carpathians mistaking them to be Vampires.

vi. The undead have become enough powerful to create havoc using its minions even when they lie deep under the earth in the sleep of the Carpathian way.

vii. The undead's minion - human converted to ghouls by the Vampire - have learned the ability to attach themselves to a hunter like a shadow using a difficult spell obviously imprinted by the Vampire on to the hunter.

viii. The undead could use animals such as rats, birds and insects to pry into other's lives through their eyes.

3) Lifemate pairs introduced as the series progresses: Will Christine have a plot for these pairs sometime in future? Since I have read all the books already, I know for sure there isn’t one yet. But hoping she will have some kind of plot around them in future.

a. Eric and Celeste – Celeste is pregnant with child in Dark Prince, but no mention of who they would be in the later books so far.

b. Vlad and Eleanor - Eleanor is pregnant with child in Dark Prince, but no mention of who they would be in the later books so far.

c. Tienn and Diedre

d. Vladimir Dubrinsky and Sarantha - Mikhail and Jacques Dubrinsky's parents.

4) Other Carpathians who are waiting for their lifemates as of this book and we meet as the series progresses are:

a. Byron Justicano - Jacques’ best friend and would become his right hand if ever Mikhail succumbs. He was tortured and hurt by Rand in the second book, Dark Desire. Will his be the next story by Christine?

b. Dimitri Tirunul – another ancient Carpathian mentioned briefly for the first time in a conversation between Jacques and Shea in Dark Desire plot.

c. Gabriel Daratrazanoff and Lucian Daratrazanoff - two powerful ancient legendry Carpathians who had disappeared after the massive vampire hunting and cleanup dealt by the Carpathian warriors during the Middle Ages. Siblings to Gregori, Darius and Desari Daratrazanoff.

d. Dayan - part of Darius and Desari's family, also members of the singing troupe Dark Troubadours. Towards the end of Dark Fire, Dayan leaves to Canada with Cullen Tucker to ensure Cullen's safety and also travel a bit to get adjusted with all the males around him who have lifemates. This gives me a pause to think that Dayan's story will be set in Canada.

5) Being so many few Carpathian females born, a few females that Christine still manages sneak in her plots are:

a. Shea O’Halloran – lifemate to Jacques Dubrinsky, first female born after more than 500 years and a natural healer. Her story can be read in Dark Desire (Review here)

b. Savannah Dubrinsky - daughter of Prince Mikhail Dubrinsky and his lifemate Raven Dubrinsky; lifemate to Gregori; who is learning to find the depth of her powers. Her story can be read in the fourth book, Dark Magic (Review here)

c. Desari Daratrazanoff - lifemate to Julian Savage, sister to Gregori and Darius; has the power to sing that could bring peace between humans, animals, birds and Carpathians alike, a voice that could avoid battles if needed. Her story is told in Dark Challenge (Review here)

d. Syndil - lifemate to Barack, both part of the troupe Dark Troubadours, with tremendous healing powers and has an affinity to earth and talent to play any instrument. Her story is spread in two books - Dark Challenge and Dark Fire.

6) Grammatical / Geographical / Location / Character / Historical Errors:

a. On Pg. 129, Christine mentions the character's name "Nordov" - the leader of the gang that was targeting people in the sewers. However Christine never mentions his name until then, even though his character appears two pages prior to that. 

b.  On Pg. 195, line 19, it should be "..to be doing…"

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