Book Critique - Dark Possession (The Carpathian Novels #18)

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 Possession is the eighteenth book in the longest series, Dark Series, by Christine Feehan which was published in August of 2007. The primary plot centers on Manuel "Manolito" De La Cruz - the third brother of the De La Cruzes - and MaryAnn Delany - psychic human female whom we first met in the thirteenth book Dark Secret and who helps battered and tortured women to safe haven. 

This also forms the third book in the five-book series within the Dark Series about the South American brothers - who had been sent away by Prince Vladimer Dubrinsky (Prince Mikhail's father) centuries ago to fight Vampires. They settled in South America with trusted humans who take care of their cattle ranch during the day time. This book has made it into several best seller lists.

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), Dragonseekers (with 16th book Dark Demon) and Werewolves (with this plot)).

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.

In Dark Celebration we had seen that Manolito De La Cruz had been severely injured in the battle with the vampire turned Carpathian Maxim Malinov. He is taken back to South America by his family to be healed. However he wakes up early which causes him to be half in the real world and half in the nether world. He believes he has sinned to his lifemate and that is why he is partial in both worlds. But has he really? Or is there an ulterior motive of the vampires and mages?

We first met with MaryAnn Delany in Dark Destiny, a female with strong psychic powers and also one who works with the battered women and children. Now she is also in South America to help Jasmine Sangria who had been brutally assaulted by Jaguar men while in capture which we had read about in the Dark Hunger plot.

Now while she is bent on helping Jasmine cope, she is also pulled towards Manolito. While Manolito is trying to woo her into the Carpathian world, she has something inside her that wants to come out. And the evil that is lurking close behind them both Is not helping either of them to form a bond and life. How they fight these lurks and survive is what the rest of the plot is about. 

All of the Carpathian males are larger than life characters and law unto themselves. But Manolito goes a step ahead with his penchant to pit himself against other Carpathains and Vampires alike. He also has a very high sense of honor that is quite contrast to his love for challenges. And all his life he has been living in the wilderness, be it Carpathian mountains or the South American jungles. 

That is why it was a surprise mix I felt when Christine paired him with MaryAnn who is a complete city girl and the closest she ever went to a jungle was the zoo that turned out to be a disaster. It was a funny ride to see how she coped with the jungle life, with the bug sprays and pepper sprays included, while Manolito struggled to make peace with the sin he has done towards her.

However showing Manolito in both worlds (half in the living and half in the dead) was a bit confusing in the beginning, a bit hard to imagine. I had to read the first few chapters a second time for it to click in my brain. I can't even imagine how Christine put that together without getting lost in the two worlds herself.

Christine expands the Jaguar race perils in this plot along with a new species and with more of the mages thrown at the Carpathians. Another of my question Christine answers in this book. I always wondered if any males were converted Carpathians or if there would be a case, and we see it in this book. The Malinov family history is also expanded in this plot, leaving several breadcrumbs for future plots.

Another of the breadcrumb that Christine threw in one of her books, about Mikhail Dubrinsky having an older brother who had gone crazy and was killed by Gregori Daratrazanoff.  Draven Dubrinsky is revealed finally connecting oh so many dots for the readers. And also more of Vlad Dubrinsky and Sarantha is shown in this book thus making them more tangible than just off-hand conversations. 

The appendix sections continues to stay and come in two parts - Appendix I listing out Carpathian Healing Chants; Appendix II listing out Carpathian Language. In the acknowledgements of the book, Christine thanks her friend Cheryl Wilson. If I am not wrong, she is the same C. L. Wilson who has written the Weathermages of Mystral series. And I had an opportunity to meet her as well when I met Christine Feehan in 2016.

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. Luiz, a Jaguar is saved from the vampire taint by Manolito De La Cruz and is tied to him forever by blood bond. Manolito converts him to a Carpathian male in the middle of the plot. I don’t remember Luiz in another book during my first read of the series. But knowing Christine she wouldn’t just bring a character to waste them. 

b. It is revealed that MaryAnn Delany is a werewolf.

c. Christine shows a different perspective on the werewolves as opposed to common notions and myths everyone has regarding them.

d. Christine also included three deleted scenes from the original print in this version of the book that I have. The scenes were cute and I totally get why they were deleted. The entire plot can easily survive without them.

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. In Dark Celebration it is revealed that Joie Sanders and her siblings and parents are from pure Jaguar blood-line. And that Jubal is a Jaguar male. 

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.

d. In Dark Celebration, quite a few Carpathian women are shown pregnant - 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. Dark Celebration also reveals a possibility of another powerful Carpathian lineage who had ability to heal earth, water, plants, ability to regrow plants with rich nutritious soil all around, aiding in the birth of Carpathians. Syndil is last surviving descendent.

f. Dark Celebration also shows a few more developments for the Jansen and Chevez offsprings - Perhaps a budding romance between Josef - Byron's nephew - and Ginny - Colby's step-sister; that Paul and Ginny have Jaguar blood in them by way of their mother. Although Paul is tied to Nicholas De La Cruz by blood bond since Dark Secret plot.

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. In Dark Celebration, it is revealed that he is Colby and her step siblings uncle - their mother's brother- and that he has Jaguar blood in him albeit dormant.

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.  In Dark Celebration it is revealed that she lifemate to Dimitri Tirunul. And that she could have been fathered by Razvan Dragonseeker making her part human part dragonseeker.

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. 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. As of this book's plot, Jasmine is pregnant. And Solange is targeted for the Jaguar men and the vampires / mages for her royal blood.

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 and jaguar females, documenting about them to kill them in the end. 

e. Malinov Brothers are introduced in 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 Dark Celebration 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. It is revealed that Skyler Rose is lifemate to Dmitri Tirunul in Dark Celebration plot. Now all the references to wolves and Dmitri and Skyler makes a lot more sense. 

c. 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.

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

e. Remaining De La Cruz Brothers - Nicolas and Zacarias - living in South America are introduced in Dark Hunger plot along with Riordan. Nicolas is sent back to the Carpathian Mountains to give note to the Prince of the dangers from the Malinov brothers and the Mage Xavier. Riordan, Rafael, and Manolito find lifemates in Dark Hunger, Dark Secret and Dark Possession respectively.

f. 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.

g. Tiberiu Bercovitz - an ancient mentioned in Dark Celebration 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 gives birth to a boy at the end of Dark Celebration 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.

i. Ivory Malinov - youngest and only sister of the Malinov brothers and to De La Cruzes as well. Thought to have been killed by a vampire with no trace left. 

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