Book Critique - Dark Wolf (The Carpathian Novels # 25)

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. But for one thing, the plot all in all is a good read.

Dark Wolf is the twenty fifth book in the longest series, Dark Series, by Christine Feehan which was originally published in January of 2014. The primary plot centers on Dimitri Tirunul - an ancient Carpathian male and predatory hunter - and Skyler Rose Thompson - psychinc female, part human, part Dragonseeker. The plot continues from where the previous book Dark Lycan left off.

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 children are being borne and far lesser females. Without their lifemates the male Carpathians lose the ability to feel emotions leaving the males with hard choice: either become vampire or "greet the dawn". After Prince Mikhail Dubrinsky finds a lifemate in a human female with psychic abilities, 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 all species. The series now ventures into other  species - Jaguar (with the 10th book Dark Symphony), Dragonseekers (with the 16th book Dark Demon), and Lycans (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.

This also forms the second book in the second trilogy within the series. The first book being Dark Lycan. And the first trilogy in the series included the 5th book Dark Challenge, 6th book Dark Fire and the 12th book Dark Melody. The much awaited story of Dimitri and Skyler finally comes to light in this book.

At the end of Dark Lycan, Dimitri Tirunul was captured by two elite Lycan hunters from Zev Hunter's pack. Over the centuries constant exchange with his brother - Fenris Dalka - had made him exactly like Fen, part Lycan part Carpathian - Guardians of All. However, the Lycans see such mixed blood as Lycan/Vampires - Sange rau - as opposed to Lycan/Carpathian. Now Dimitri has been targeted. The plot begins with the rescue attempts of Dimitri.

Christine had made the readers wait for almost 15 years (for Dimitri) and 12 years (for Skyler) before she penned down a story for them. When I had met her in 2016, Christine mentioned that Skyler was based on her then 14 year old grand-daughter when Skyler's role first appeared. And she didn’t want to pen down an erotic paranormal tale based on her until she was of age that she could read about that kind of plot. Hence she had waited this long. Fittingly enough, she dedicates the book to her Skyler. 

Well, whatever the reasons, she had certainly built the anticipation to all us readers about them for quite a long time.

Dimitri was introduced to the readers in the second book, Dark Desire, almost 20 years ago to date. He also has evolved over the course of the series into a very strong predator Carpathian with Lycan abilities now that he has mixed blood.

Skyler Rose Thompson was first introduced as a 14 year old battered and abused teenager in the eighth book, Dark Legend. She has since then been adopted by Gabriel and Francesca Daratrazanoff, becoming Skyler Daratrazanoff, also been identified as part human, part mage, part Dragonseeker with Razvan Dragonseeker being her biological father. She has evolved over the course of the series into a strong 19 year old far more experienced woman than any Carpathian female and enhanced powers courtesy of her Dragonseeker lineage which she has just started to tap into.

Unlike human years, Carpathian years are long, so no one would have suspected her to make a huge move in rescuing Dimitri, since she was practically a child in their eyes. But that was the advantage she had and plus her trusted friends who always came to her aid. While all Carpathians were converging for a summit meet with the Lycans, these young adults make a bold rescue attempt. It was going to be a coup, but then nothing goes as planned, and all hell breaks loose for Dimitri, Skyler and her friends.

Josef (Byron's nephew) and Paul Chevez (Colby De La Cruz's step-brother) have a prominent role in this plot. They are projected more than as mere teenagers or young adults in this plot which as a reader I liked since the scope of the plot extends to the next generation as well. It was a pleasure to see more to Razvan and Ivory Dragonseeker - my favorite couple of all the couples so far in this series. 

The entire Carpathian series felt, as it proceeded, it formed waves rising to a crescendo so high around the 8th and 9th books Dark Legend and Dark Guardian respectively, then around 20th book Dark Slayer and now with this 25th book Dark Wolf. Perhaps the way Christine built her characters up in the plots preceding these books that the anticipation always doubled and tripled for the reader.

Naturally many readers might have had second thoughts about Dimitri and Skyler's tale since the plot although begins with rescue of Dimitri by Skyler, it ventures into summit meeting between two powerful predator species, and saving an honorable hunter. The story seems to have taken over from their limelight, which perhaps everyone were waiting to be focused on.

However, I do feel that no matter what other elements Christine had put in her plot, she did center the story around Dimitri and Skyler, either in their rescuing operation, fighting to keep each other alive, or the other hunters, standing shoulder to shoulder with other warriors in a battle to fight the rogues and even in the way they find their relationship together. All the other elements are just fringe benefits, the main attractions still remained Dimitri and Skyler.

There is definite repeat paraphrasing here as well, but with so much going on in the plot, it wasn’t as obvious as in other plots.

A few tidbits: 

The family chart continues to appear in the beginning of the book. This paperback version has an abridged version of Carpathian Dictionary as appendix.

This is the fourth book that Christine Feehan thanks her friend Cheryl Wilson. Yes, the very same C. L. Wilson of the Weathermages of Mystral series. The other three books that she had done so far were the 18th book Dark Possession, 20th book Dark Slayer and the 23rd book Dark Storm.

This paperback version of the book has three deleted scenes which are available for readers to read at Christine Feehan's site as well here.

In this episode Christine does take the readers through the souls of Dimitri and Skyler, as their family ties are threatened, rogue assassins targeting them while two species struggling to find peace.

Another powerful paranormal romantic 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. Josef hums an old children's song "The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out". I had never heard that song so checked on google. It is a snippet from The Hearse Song, a popular WWI song about burial and decomposition, although it dates back into 1800s. More about it here. And here is a rendition of that song by Harley Poe. It gave me shivers listening and reading to it, and wonder how the kids felt back when they actually sang it. 

b. Zev gets hurt in a war against rogue Lycans and the Sange rau protecting Carpathians and Lycans alike. His spirit gets bounded to Bransilava.

c. Razvan and Ivory gift four wolf pups to Dimitri and Skyler as a gift, all four converted to Carpathians just like their wolf pack - Frost, Moonglow, Shadow and Sonnet.

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. Dark Celebration 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 descendant. As of this plot, it shows that Skyler and perhaps Syndil all were descendants of the Incas, the same people that Arabejila that we saw in Dark Storm was from .

i. Plot also shows that Paul and Ginny have Jaguar blood in them by way of their mother. Although Paul is tied to Nicholas De La Cruz since Dark Secret.

c. Ivory Malinov has a pack of wolves that she had converted them to Carpathian - Raja & Ayame, Blaez & Gynger, Farkas & Rikki.

d. The book of spells by Xavier was found in Dark Demon by Natalya and Vikirnoff Von Shreider. However, Christine hasn’t yet put together a plot to destroy it. 

e. I wonder if Christine would have a cross-over between her Leopard People Series and the Jaguar species in this Carpathian Series.

f. In Dark Peril, it is shown that Solange Sangria's royal jaguar blood gives Carpathians ability to walk in sun, albeit with some difficulties. Christine showed the continuity of this in Dark Predator and Dark Storm plots. 

g. In Dark Predator we saw budding romance between Julio Santos and Lea Eldridge. Will these and other human families supporting the De La Cruzes resurface somewhere in a future plot? We also saw that Dominic and Solange Dragonseeker head back to Carpathian mountains to deliver important news to their Prince.

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 if she had already introduced that child in any of the books so far. 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 shown that he is Colby and her step siblings uncle - their mother's brother - and that he has dormant Jaguar blood in him. In Dark Lycan plot, Gary is mortally injured, and Gregori is going to convert him if the healing process doesn’t work.

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

c. Gabrielle Sanders and Jubal Sanders, siblings to Joie Sanders are first introduced in Dark Descent.  As of Dark Demon they reside in Carpathian Mountains. Gabrielle is turned to Carpathian in Dark Demon and tied to Vikirnoff Von Shrieder. In Dark Celebration it is revealed that the Sanders family come from pure Jaguar blood-line. And that all of them have dormant Jaguar blood in them. In Dark Storm plot it is shown that Jubal has feelings for Jasmine Sangria, jaguar female.

d. Jasmine Sangria - sister to Juliette - is first introduced in Dark Hunger plot. A jaguar female and could be a lifemate to a Carpathian male. As of Dark Possession, Jasmine is pregnant. 

4. Perils that the Carpathians face:

a. Vampires congregating; injecting a fast acting poison impacting the nervous system; master vampires running together; a multigenerational poison that could attack the healers, fighting the master mage Xavier (introduced in Dark Demon).

b. 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. 

c. Malinov Brothers 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; Ruslan Manilov is the eldest of them and killed by Zacharias De La Cruz in Dark Predator; Sergey Malinov introduced in Dark Slayer; fifth brother yet to be introduced.

d. The Lycan/Vampires - Carpathians who deliberately mixed blood with Lycans and voluntarily converted to Vampires - also known as the Sange rau.

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 it is shown 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.

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

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

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

c. Andre - an ancient Carpathian who keeps mostly to himself, introduced first in Dark Curse. 

d. Tariq Asenguard - an ancient Carpathian, who was sent to North America by Vlad, introduced first in Dark Curse.

e. Matias, Lojos and Tomas - ancient Carpathians and siblings, first introduced in Dark Slayer. 

f. Zev Hunter - Introduced first in Dark Lycan, he is an elite Lycan hunter hunting the rogue lycans and lycan/vampires, Sange rau. He is enamored by Bransilava. Possible pairing in a future plot, I guess. And also curious to see how Christine would weave it considering the lifemate ritual words are imprinted on a male Carpathian, and here Zev would be a Lycan.

g. The other elite Lycans introduced in Dark Lycan book - Daciana (female elite Lycan), Lykaon, Makoce, Arnou.

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.

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; power to sing that could bring peace to all beings. Her story is in Dark Challenge

d. Syndil - lifemate to Barack, 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. She is a powerful healer; makes stained glass patterns and quilts that are specific to one's need and bring healing to them. Her story is in Dark Legend. As of this plot, she is pregnant again. 

f. Natalya Shonski - lifemate to Vikirnoff Von Shrieder. She is part human, part mage and part Dragonseeker. Has ability to see the past of anything that she touches. Her story is in Dark Demon.

g. Ivory Malinov - Lifemate to Razvan Dragonseeker, sister to the Malinov and De La Cruz brothers, ability to weave counteracting spells to Xavier's. Her story is in Dark Slayer.

h. Lara Calladine - lifemate to Nicolas De La Cruz. She is part human, part Carpathian and part Dragonseeker; and daughter of Razvan Dragonseeker. Her story is in Dark Curse.

i. Branislava "Bronnie" Dragonseeker and Tatijana Dragonseeker (Lifemate to Fenris Dalka, her story told in Dark Lycan) - First introduced in Dark Descent, Twin Dragons (Red and Blue respectively), great aunts to Lara Calladine, aunts to Natalya and Razvan, rescued from Xavier's clutches finally in Dark Curse.

j. Skyler Daratrazanoff - lifemate to Dimitri Tirunul; adopted by Gabriel and Francesca Daratrazanoff, is Razvan's biological daughter; part mage, part human, part Dragonseeker, Daughter of the Earth.

8. Next Generation Carpathian male and female kids:

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

b. Josef  and Benjamin "Ben" Belandrake - Carpathian male kids, first introduced in Dark Symphony. Nephews to Byron Justicano. In Dark Celebration a budding romance was shown between Josef and Ginny - Colby's step-sister; while in this plot Skyler mentions that perhaps one or both of Gregori's daughters' may be his lifemate.

c. Jennifer - daughter of Dayan and Corrine Wentworth, born in Dark Melody.

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

e. Alexandru "Sandu" - Mikhail and Raven Dubrinsky's son, born sometime after Dark Curse.

f. Anastasia Daratrazanoff and Anya Daratrazanoff - twin girls of Gregori and Savannah Daratrazanoff, born in Dark Slayer. As of Dark Lycan, Anya and Anastasia are becoming strong protectors of Alexandru just like Gregori was to Mikhail; Anya more being Alexandru's second-in-command.

g. As of Dark Lycan plot, several babies have been born in the span of two years between Dark Storm and this - Darius and Tempest Daratrazanoff have twins (a boy and a girl), Gabriel and Francesca Daratrazanoff pregnant with a second girl, Falcon and Sara Amiras are going to have a child soon (Sara had miscarried the first pregnancy sometime after Dark Celebration), the wolves that Razvan and Ivory Dragonseeker raised also have given birth to cubs

9. Geographical / Character / Grammatical / Historical Errors:

a. On Pg. 33, Christine mentions that Razvan's father was the most powerful mage ever known and that her grandfather had rejected her because she didn’t have Carpathian traits. But in truth it was Razvan's grandfather, Xavier, who was the most evil and powerful mage and he was Skyler's great-grandfather. There is a remiss by Christine in mentioning the relations.

b. On Pg. 34, again Christine mentions Xavier as Skyler's grandfather as opposed to great-grandfather.

c. Christine constantly mentions Paul Chevez as the De La Cruz's nephew. But, he is step-brother to Colby De La Cruz, so technically he would be brother-in-law to them. So why call him nephew?

d. On Pg. 221, again Christine mentions that Paul will be guarding his father, uncle, Skyler and Dimitri. But Byron and Vlad are not Paul's relations but Josef's. So another remiss, perhaps.

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