Book Critique - Dark Curse (The Carpathian Novels #19)

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 Curse is the nineteenth book in the longest series, Dark Series, by Christine Feehan which was published in September of 2008. The primary plot centers on Nicolas De La Cruz - the fourth brother of the De La Cruzes - and Lara Calladine - part Carpathian, part Dragonseeker, part psychic human, who has a deep urge to go to the Carpathian mountains. The plot is set right after the events from Dark Possession. This book also is listed on some of the bestseller lists, and has been Number 1 on New York Times Bestseller List.

This also forms the fourth 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 the 16th book Dark Demon and Werewolves (with the 18th book Dark Possession).

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 Possession plot, we see that Nicolas De La Cruz is sent back to the Carpathian Mountains to make the Prince be aware of the dangers from the Malinov brothers and the Mage Xavier. He takes up this as one last task before he seeks the dawn and commit suicide. After living for so long in the grey world, saving the world from the vampires, Nicolas has become very close to turning. Only a miracle can save him if he doesn’t seek dawn. Just when he fails to feel hope, he comes across Lara Calladine, all in full gear, set to fight the vampires. 

But she has not come back to Carpathian Mountains to fight vampires, but instead to go up the mountains and rescue her two aunts from the ice caves that she was able to escape. Now teaming with Nicolas she finds him as an asset on her side in her and hopes that she could free her aunts. But the mage Xavier has other plans for her. Will it be a curse for them or a blessing to be side by side and fight the mage is what the rest of the plot ends up being.

Their introduction is very amusing and at the same time nerve-wrecking since they fight to the vampires while keeping the Prince safe along with the villagers and friends of Lara. So much is put into just that one incident and so much more it carries the reader forward. Again in this book as well it was a bit confusing at first to understand that memory journeys that Lara took and the way Nicolas accompanied. Yet very intriguing to come up with such a novel idea. 

As much as damaged Lara feels herself, Nicolas treasures her more than she expected someone to provide that for her. Nicolas even though powerful and dominant, stays exactly the way Lara want him to be. Such a balance is shown between both Lara and Nicolas. 

With this plot, Christine brings quite a few breadcrumbs to a closure - about the twin dragons (red and blue colored) that Natalya Shonski and her lifemate Vikirnoff Von Shreider and Traiain Trigovie and his lifemate Joise Sanders find in the ice caves; about the fate of the little girl with bright copper curls who had been food source for Razvan Dragonseeker in the ice caves; about why Gregori has silver eyes; 

Christine also gives us reasons as to why Carpathian women cannot breastfeed their children and why they couldn’t carry their babies. In the process she shows a lot of Carpathian ceremonies to the readers. I can't imagine how Christine comes up with the different ideas of showing evil, good and everything in between. Some of them are mind boggling for the reader. 

In Dark Celebration, we did see a lot of Carpathian males in close quarters with energy surges all around. We see a similar situation in this plot, and I must say Christine has made her Carpathian males behave much better than how they were in Dark Celebration with regards to energy surges and holding power. 

The book kind of forms a central point for the entire series with new doors opening, taking the readers into realms that Christine has yet to explore more. And more of what the evil Xavier had in store for Carpathians is revealed. I was especially pleased to see Razvan in a different light. He has taken a soft spot in my heart and can't wait to read his story soon.

The book that I have also contains three deleted scenes that were not part of the original publication. The appendix sections continues to stay but this time it is only of the 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. And the family chart appears again with more details incorporated. 

Christine provides a jigsaw puzzle of the book cover on her website. It is quite interesting. You too can solve it here. And she has the Carpathian lullabies and the chants also in MP3 format on her site.

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.  Raven is pregnant with a boy in this plot. 

b. Lara being mage could detect the microbes that Xavier has created specifically so they would inject the males and through them to their lifemates and through them to the kids. These microbes make the babies in the womb suffer and resort to suicide. If she converts she may be unable to detect the microbes. At the end of this book, her conversion doesn’t happen. Both Nicolas and Lara suffer not being fully bonded to each other, for the greater good of the Carpathians. 

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? 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 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. Gabrielle is turned to Carpathian in Dark Demon 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 all of them had dormant Jaguar blood in them.

ii. As of Dark Celebration plot, Traian Trigovise resides in the Carpathian Mountains. So we assume that the threat to him by the vampire is removed. And now I am curious to see how she shapes Elisabeta Trigovise, Traian's sister whom we saw first in the 31st book, Dark Legacy's plot. I still have to read the additional 100 pages she added to Dark Descent plot later on.

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

i. 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).

ii. The plot 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.

iii. 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.

d. In Dark Possession, it is revealed that MaryAnn Delany, lifemate to Manolito De La Cruz, is a werewolf and now a carpathian with werewolf capabilities hidden beneath.

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. The other two boys names yet to be known.

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 is 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. 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. Children born rarely survive their first year, and with female born very rarely. Shea Dubrinsky along with Gregori Daratrazanoff are working hard towards a solution.

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; doing a hypnotic dances and holding spells; 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 hunters in their molecular form; 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), ingest parasites so their blood can recognize between vampires and carpathian males.

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 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 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. He is lifemate to Skyler Rose.

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. As of this plot, Dominic ingests the parasitic vampire blood and leaves the Carpathian mountains to the heart of the Morrison Center for Psychic Research.

c. Remaining De La Cruz Brothers - Nicolas and Zacarias - living in South America are introduced in Dark Hunger plot along with Riordan. Riordan, Rafael, and Manolito find lifemates in Dark Hunger, Dark Secret and Dark Possession respectively.

d. Razvan Dragonseeker - Introduced first in Dark Secret, Natalya's brother, shown to have joined forces with Xavier, the powerful mage working against Carpathians. He has three children with three different women - Colby Jansen who lived in CA before she became lifemate to Rafael De La Cruz and moved to South America; Skyler Rose could also be his daughter and Lara Calladine, lifemate to Nicolas De La Cruz.

e. Tiberiu Bercovitz - an ancient mentioned in Dark Celebration plot. He was known to be amazing with weapons. 

f. Luiz, a Jaguar converted to Carpathian by Manolito De La Cruz in Dark Possession. 

g. Andre - an ancient Carpathian who keeps mostly to himself, introduced first in this plot. 

h. Tariq Asenguard - an ancient Carpathian, who was sent to North America by Vlad, introduced first in this plot.

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, a natural healer. Her story is in Dark Desire and has given birth to a boy as 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. 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 and Razvan are descendents of that son.

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

h. 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. 

i. Lara Calladine - lifemate to Nicolas De La Cruz. She is part human, part Carpathian and part Dragonseeker; and a daughter of Razvan Dragonseeker.

j. Branislava "Bronnie" Dragonseeker and Tatijana Dragonseeker - Twin Dragons (Green and Red respectively), great aunts to Lara Calladine, aunts to Natalya and Razvan, who had been in capture in the ice caves in the form of dragons by Xavier and finally freed by Lara and Nicolas in this plot. 

8. Next Generation Carpathian male and female kids:

a. Tamara - daughter of Gabriel Daratrazanoff and Francesca Del Pounce, born after the Dark Legend plot.

b. Josef  and Benjamin "Ben" Belandrake - Carpathian male kids, first introduced in Dark Symphony. Nephews to Byron Justicano.

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

d. Stefan Kane Dubrinsky - Shea and jacques Dubrinsky's son born in Dark Celebration plot.

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