Book Critique - Dark Celebration (The Carpathian Novels #17)

For reviews of other books in this series: 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 Celebration is the seventeenth book in the longest series, Dark Series, by Christine Feehan which was published in August of 2006. The book centers on a Christmas Celebration that Mikhail and Raven Dubrinsky host for all of their Carpathian families, human families, rescued women and the lone Carpathians still holding out. The plot is set right after the Dark Demon plot and in the Carpathian mountains.

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". Now that Prince Mikhail Dubrinsky finds a lifemate in a human female with 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. The series now ventures into other  species - Jaguar Species (with the 10th book Dark Symphony) and Dragonseekers (with 16th book Dark Demon).

In her 31st book, Dark Legacy released in September of 2017, Christine had introduced a new Carpathian female, Elisabeta Trigovise - an ancient and sister to Traian Trigovise and thought lost to them. Christine tends to bring back her characters and tie all the inconsequential details that she leaves around in her plots. The mention of Traian Trigovise made me want to re-read the series again since quite a few facts she had brought back in Dark Legacy were lost on me.

When I met with Christine Feehan in 2016, she had mentioned then that her editor and publisher didn’t want to have a Dark Celebration book, especially when the book didn’t have a pair being formed or an antagonist being killed. And so it was published in limited editions only (I fail to remember but may be only 500 copies or so I guess). Then it became a hit with the readers and everyone were asking for more, so later they ended up publishing 30000+ copies of this book and still counting.

I must say it is one of the best written, humorous and shows a completely different world of Carpathians filled with love and happiness. Of course it is another reunion sort of plot, a true reunion with more festivities around. Christine shows us how all the couples so far we met are faring well in their lives, the inner workings of their society in this book. Of course they still deal with the vampires, society of human vampire hunters and mages in parallel.

These are all larger-than-life characters and they certainly have a strong presence. So to see all of them getting equal focus, showcasing their strengths without diminishing each other, that must have been a massive feat for Christine to put together. After the battle they had with the vampires and powerful mage, Xavier, in the previous book, a close-call to their prince's life, this seemed a fitting book in the series, a reprieve for all the characters too.

I was pleased to see a lot more of Skyler Rose whom we had seen briefly in Dark Legend. And nice to see more of Dmitri in here. Skyler and Dmitri certainly are growing to become prominent characters in the Carpathian life. I certainly loved the entire chapter written for Barack and Syndil exclusively - two of the characters that I have come to be fond of and craved for more. We see more of Gabrielle, Gary and the Sanders family, and the plot around them keeps getting thicker and thicker.

The way Christine progressed the plot, made me think of age-old practice by Indian kings who would dress as commoners, mingle amongst their people to find what makes them happy and identify the problems and potential solutions. Although Mikhail doesn’t do that way, but his interaction with every single Carpathian - couple and single - made me feel that. And in the process he finds more abilities of his people that he thought were lost or unheard of, aiding him in making a stronger Carpathian race. Flipside the Carpathian couples and families learn a lot about each other too. 

Christine mentions that Traian Trigovise's vampire who had a hold on him was dead, Traian returns to Carpathian mountains with his lifemate Joie Sanders and her siblings Jubal and Gabrielle. But I don’t remember reading about any of that in any of the books following Traian's story, Dark Descent, and this plot. Perhaps this mention in itself is the closure. 

Another long-pressing question in my brain gets touched upon partially in this plot. What happens if a human who was in love with another human gets converted to a Carpathian? Will their human lover still be their lifemate or will they be a lifemate to another Carpathian and still be in love with the human? Ooh the plots are getting thicker, deeper and very complicated.

At the end of the book, Christine adds a whole section on desserts, aptly titled "Dark Desserts" - each and every recipe submitted by the readers. The appendix sections continues to stay and come in two parts - Appendix I listing out Carpathian Healing Chants; Appendix II listing out Carpathian Language

A few tidbits: This book misses the hard card inserts that gives reader an opportunity to either join a book club and win books, or buy a book and get a few free. Christine also shows the Carpathian Mountain ranges where these people primarily reside. And the family chart appears again, this time with the mistakes seen in the previous book corrected. There is an advertisement for dorchester publishing at the end of the book enticing readers to join their club and buy books. Although we know now that in 2012 this publishing was acquired by Amazon Publishing and it shut down as dorcehsterpub.

Another powerful paranormal 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, not yet erotic. Christine has certainly left the readers with so many minute details that they would be craving to read those details becoming important in future plots. Watch this space for more reviews of the next books in the series.

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot reveals:

a. Christine shows the map of Carpathian region where the Carpathians occupy in this book.

b. Eileen Fitzpatrick, a human claims that Shea could be actually Maggie's granddaughter as opposed to her daughter.

c. It is revealed that Skyler Rose is lifemate to Dmitri Tirunul. Now all the references to wolves and Dmitri and Skyler makes a lot more sense. And that Skyler could be a Dragonseeker and fathered by Razvan. 

d. Quite a few Carpathian women are pregnant in this episode - Tempest (lifemate to Darius Daratrazanoff), Savannah Dubrinsky (lifemate to Gregori Daratrazanoff, perhaps with two twin girls thus confirming the forecast that Julian and Savannah had in Dark Melody), Sara Marten (lifemate to Falcon)

e. Talk about a woman who had come from a much respected lineage who had ability to heal earth, water, plants, ability to regrow plants with rich nutritious soil all around. She aided highly in the birth of Carpathians. Syndil is her direct descendent.

f. Perhaps a budding romance between Josef - Byron's nephew - and Ginny - Colby's step-sister. Paul and Ginny have Jaguar blood in them by way of their mother. It is revealed that Gary Jansen is also a Jaguar male although he doesn’t know of it. He is also related to Colby and her siblings - their mother was his sister.  Finally the question of if Colby is related to Gary or not is answered. Paul is tied to Nicholas De La Cruz by blood bond.

g. Joie Sanders and her siblings and parents are from pure Jaguar blood-line. And that Jubal is a Jaguar male although now Gabrielle is a Carpathian. 

2. Sub-Plots:

a. Would love to ask Christine Feehan 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?

b. In Dark Descent, we see quite a few sub-plots, more meat for future books. 

i. Gabrielle Sanders and Jubal Sanders are introduced - siblings to Joie Sanders.  As of Dark Demon plot they reside in Carpathian Mountains taking care of the kids during the day, whom Sarah Marten and Falcon have adopted. The owners of the inn in the village, Slavica Ostojic, her husband Mirko Ostojic and their daughter Angelina, help them too. Gabrielle is turned to Carpathian in this plot and tied to Vikirnoff for all time. 

ii. While being tortured, one of the master vampire takes Traian's blood giving the vampire ability to control Traian - although Traian beats him at that control. However, not knowing who that vampire was and where he was, Traian decides to be away from his people. However, I don’t remember this tidbit being explored by Christine in any of the future books. Perhaps that is why she brought Elisabeta Trigovise in the 31st book, Dark Legacy's plot. Or I might have to read the additional 100 pages that Christine included in a later version to know the truth.

c. Dark Demon Plot also comes with quite a few sub-plots that could potentially form more meat for future books:

i. Natalya and Vikirnoff find two dragons encased in ice - red and blue colored. The same dragons that Traian Trigovise and his lifemate Joie Sanders find in Dark Descent, except that they assumed it was one, but instead there are two of them in that ice case.

ii. Razvan Dragonseeker was shown to take blood from a small child with bright copper curls. Wonder who that girl would be.

3. Unique / Repeat Characters who are not Carpathians but with the possibility of them being expanded by Christine Feehan in future books:

a. Gary Jansen first time introduced in Dark Magic, doesn’t have a story of him yet - 18 years since his character had first been mentioned. Recently Christine announced in her blog on Goodreads that Gary's story has to wait as his lifemate is a child now. I wonder who that child was and if she had already introduced that child in any of the recent books. And if she is basing her on one of her granddaughters' - just like Skyler - and she would wait till the grand daughter would grow in real life before penning a story between her and Gary.

b. In Dark Dream, Sara Marten adopts seven sewer children - three girls (Emma, Chrissy, Blythe) and four boys (Travis, Jase,) - all with psychic abilities. 

c. Skyler Rose Thompson is first introduced in Dark Legend, as a 14 year old girl psychic human female who is battered and injured in every way. We are going to see more of her.  

d. In Dark Legend, Francesca muses if her child would be one of those rare females since she had perfected the art of living like a human and walking in the sun. Wonder what would the fate of this child would be in Christine's hands.

e. Barry Woods, a reporter in the Dark Legend plot doesn’t have a closure like other reporters in other plots. Perhaps a future character?

f. Corrine Wentworth (lifemate to Dayan) gives birth to a female psychic child - Jennifer - in Dark Melody.

g. MaryAnn Delany is introduced in Dark Destiny, a female with strong psychic powers and also one who works with the battered women and children. She perhaps will be a lifemate to another Carpathian soon. She is identified as a lifemate to Manolito De La Cruz in this plot.

h. Jasmine Sangria - sister to Juliette - and Solange Sangria - their cousin - are introduced in Dark Hunger plot. Strong psychics from the Jaguar species who could potentially be lifemates to Carpathians just like how Juliette is for Riordan.

4. Perils that the Carpathians face:

a. Few children who have born are Males, most not surviving the first year of their life, females are rarely born. Shea Dubrinsky along with Gregori Daratrazanoff are trying hard to find a way so children survive.

b. With Dark Symphony, Christine introduces a new concept while converting a psychic female with Jaguar blood - Antoninetta Scarletti's blind eyes seem to be giving sight back to her. 

c. Vampires are congregating; attacking in coordinated methods; doing a hypnotic dance to transfix the Carpathian hunters; ability to create a holding spell; able to inject a fast acting poison impacting the nervous system; can cause Carpathians to sever the mental path the Carpathians share; casting a silvery net to capture the hunter in their molecular form; two master vampires running the show together; use animals such as rats, birds and insects to pry on others; a multigenerational poison that could attack the healers, fighting the master mage Xavier (introduced in Dark Demon plot)

d. Society of Human Vampire Hunters who constantly hunt the Carpathians mistaking them to be Vampires. The Morrison Center for Psychic Research is targeting psychic humans, documenting about them to kill them in the end. 

e. Malinov Brothers are introduced in this Dark Secret plot; they were sent to Asia by Vladimir Dubrinsky to fight vampires, instead they become the very thing that they were sent to kill - Kirja Manilov killed by Rafael De La Cruz with aid from Vikirnoff Von Shrieder in Dark Secret; Maxim Malinov killed by Mikhail Dubrinsky in this plot; Ruslan Manilov is the eldest of them.

5. Lifemate pairs introduced as the series progresses: Will Christine have a plot for these pairs sometime in future? 

a. Eric and Celeste – Celeste is pregnant with child in Dark Prince, but no mention of them in the books after..

b. Vlad and Eleanor Belandrake - In Dark Symphony we see that she has given birth to Benjamin "Benj" and also adopts Josef - son of another Carpathian pair who are lying in ground now, Lucia and Rodaniver.

c. Tienn and Diedre - Diedre is sister of Vlad.

d. Vladimer Dubrinsky and Sarantha - Mikhail and Jacques Dubrinsky's parents - They are shown as dead as of Dark Guardian plot.

e. Soren - a half Carpathian and half mage - and Samantha, a human - Natalya and Razvan's parents and dead as of Dark Demon plot.

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

a. Dimitri Tirunul – another ancient Carpathian mentioned briefly for the first time in Dark Desire plot. First introduced almost 15 years ago, we as readers already know that his story would not be until the 25th book in the series. He is a renowned scientist; works for preservation of wolves and guards them in the reservations of Russia; and has a wolf foundation.

b. Dominic Dragonseeker - Introduced in Dark Symphony, with added little details about wizards / mages and a war between them and the Carpathians. He is looking for his sister - Rhiannon Dragonseeker - a powerful mage although just an apprentice, thought to be lost.

c. Josef  and Benjamin "Ben" - Carpathian male kids, first introduced in Dark Symphony.

d. Remaining De La Cruz Brothers - Manolito, Nicolas and Zacarias - living in South America are introduced in Dark Hunger plot along with Riordan. Manolito is in Carpathian Mountains with their Prince as of Dark Demon plot. Rafael and Riordan find lifemates in Dark Secret and Dark Hunger respectively.

e. Razvan Dragonseeker - Introduced first in Dark Secret, Natalya's brother and thought to have joined forces with Xavier, the powerful mage working against Carpathians. Although he has children with three different women - one in CA, TX and third one in France. He is father to Colby Jansen who lived in CA before she became lifemate to Rafael De La Cruz and moved to South America.

f. Tiberiu Bercovitz - an ancient mentioned in this plot. He was known to be amazing with weapons. 

7. 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 is in Dark Desire and is pregnant as of Dark Melody plot.

b. Savannah Dubrinsky - daughter of Prince Mikhail and Raven Dubrinsky; lifemate to Gregori Daratrazanoff. Her story is in Dark Magic

c. Desari Daratrazanoff - lifemate to Julian Savage, sister to Gregori and Darius; has the power to sing that could bring peace to all beings. Her story is in Dark Challenge

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

e. Francesca Del Ponce - lifemate to Gabriel Daratrazanoff. Her story is told in Dark Legend. She is a powerful healer; has ability to bring peace to anyone who is in her vicinity or by touch; makes stained glass patterns and quilts that are specific to one's need and bring healing to them..

f. Tamara - daughter of Gabriel Daratrazanoff and Francesca Del Pounce, born a few months before the Dark Guardian plot.

g. Rhiannon - a Dragonseeker who was kidnapped by the powerful mage, Xavier, eventually giving birth to triplets - two daughters and a son - with Xavier who had killed her lifemate. Natalya is the descendent of that son. And that Rhiannon caused the war between Carpathians and the Dragonseekers.

h. Natalya Shonski - lifemate to Vikirnoff Von Shrieder. She is part human, part mage and part dragonseeker. She also has the tigress inside her. She has ability to see the past of anything that she touches.

8. Geographical / Character / Grammatical / Historical Errors:

a. On Pg.68, Line 5, it should be "…now and then.."

b. On Pg. 112, Line 28, it should be "…did to his body as well as…"

c. On Pg. 149, Line 14, it should be "..In the midst of…."


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