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Book Critique - Dark Illusion (The Carpathian Novels #33)

For reviews of other books in this series: Go here

Stars: 3 / 5

Recommendation: If you like paranormal plots with shades 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. A bit droning bits here and there, but still a good read.

Dark Illusion is the thirty third book in the longest series, Dark Series, by Christine Feehan which was originally published in September of 2019. The primary plot is around Isai Florea - an ancient who was living in the monastery, but now resides in CA aiding Tariq Asenguard - and Julija Brennan - a Mage on the run. 

Carpathians are an ancient race who are near-immortals living for thousands of years with powers and gifts. Despite that they are at the edge of extinction as fewer and fewer children are born with far lesser of females. Without their "lifemates" the male Carpathians lose the ability to feel emotions leaving them to either become vampire or "greet the dawn". Now with their Prince, Mikhail Dubrinsky, finding 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 series now ventures into other  species - Jaguar (with the 10th book Dark Symphony), Dragonseekers (with the 16th book Dark Demon), Lycans (with the 18th book Dark Possession) and Mages with this book.

We met Isai Florea first in Dark Promises, and we see that he and his brethren from the monastery settle in Tariq's compound in CA. We met Julija Brennan first in Dark Legacy. She was a prisoner of Sergey Malinov and had played key role in rescuing Elisabetta  Trigovise. But she leaves Tariq's compound on a mission of her own. This plot begins with her mission but immediately after the events in Dark Sentinel.

Julija Brennan defies her family and tries to reach the Prince of Carpathians, Mikhail Dubrinsky to warn him about the evil plans being conceived behind him. Despite the little detour she faces in rescuing Elisabetta, she still follows her course. But she gets into another detour that puts her smack in the path of Isai Florea, an ancient Carpathian from the monastery. Isai is on the search for his younger brother, Iulian, and save the Florea name. Now Isai and Julija's goals converge making them work together. But plethora of enemies fall into their path making their response fight over flight.

With this book, Christine Feehan answers a lot of questions from previous books that went unanswered or sub-plots that were left untouched. We had heard and seen the Book of Spells conceived by Xavier, the high mage, first in Dark Demon that Natalya and  Vikirnoff Von Shreider finding it and hand it to the Prince. Finally Christine explores that thoroughly in this.

Also knowing the cruel intentions of Xavier, Xaviero and Xavyon, one would guess that they would have more offsprings of their own and not just stop with Razvan and Natalya. More of that also we see in this plot.

Finally she leads the readers to the true purpose of the Shadow Cats that we had elusively seen in a few books in the past. Sad though how they were made, but glad that Christine found a positive purpose for at least a few of them.

A while ago when I had a chance to meet Christine Feehan in-person I had voiced that if she would take her books into India and its heritage and history, my birth country. She had mentioned that she doesn’t have anyone who could send her the materials she need and may be in future she will set a plot around that country. I have been waiting for that to happen. Although she hadnt really set the plot in India or around it, in this book, she did use two Sanskrit words in the spells that she wrote for her characters - Vishuddha and Akasha. Hopefully we will see a plot from her soon set in and around India.

Thankfully Christine had less use of words like "allow", "gifting as in orgasms", "rewarded", "earned" this time around. However she had tinges of "serve me", "obey me" coloring the sexual plot. Again she created a hero who is the exact replica of the antagonist, except has shades of goodness, with an impeccable honor that doesn’t sway him to the dark side.

Although I felt the plot ended abruptly, with the main characters she introduced bound to come back again. I did see however that Christine has corrected the Carpathian Family chart to reflect all the pairs so far appeared in the series, including this one. 

She continues to have a lot of repeat paraphrasing, this time it was more like chapters repeating.

I feel a lot of empathy for the heroine, considering what she went through in her life, and am definitely happy that Christine has given her a very fitting mate. As I already mentioned Isai understands Julija perfectly in every way.

Yet, I felt something missing from the plot this time. It felt a bit droning and I wanted to see more of the other characters we have seen in the previous books as well. But again it is Christine's style to write a story totally focusing on her primary protagonists for that plot and their nemesis.

Again, the plot Christine weaves keeps us hooked and immersed into the world of Carpathians, Lycans, Mages and Jaguars along-side humans. As always the fight scenes are excellent and love scenes are very erotic. Christine certainly left the readers with so many minute details that they would be craving to read those details becoming important in future plots, despite a bit of droning this time around.

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot reveals:

a. Julija Brennan is the grand-daughter of the high mage Xavier. Her family includes - father Anatolie, step-mother Crina, step-brothers Vasile and Avram

b. Julija and Isai end up with their own pack of Shadow Cats (panthers) who have been converted to Carpathians - Blue and Bell; Comet and Phaedra; Sable and Phantom. They ride on the back of Isai as tattoos.

c. Isai defends two humans - Mike and Josh - from the wrath of mages. 

d. The primary antagonist Barnabas is the son of Xaviero, who doesn’t die at the end of this plot. So we will see more of him again.

e. Julia is pregnant towards the end of the plot.

2. Sub-Plots:

a. Barack and Syndil's story is split between Dark Challenge and Dark Fire. I wondered why she had done so. But with the plethora of characters she has, she perhaps did that to reduce one book. Just a guess.

b. Ivory Malinov and Razvan Dragonseeker have a pack of converted Carpathian wolves in Dark Slayer that ride them as fur coats or tattoos - Raja & Ayame, Blaez & Gynger, Farkas & Rikki. Dimitri Tirunul and Skyler Daratrazanoff have a pack of their own converted Carpathian wolves in Dark Wolf - Frost & Misty, Moonglow, Shadow and Sonnet.

c. Starting Dark Peril, it is shown that Solange Sangria's royal jaguar blood gives Carpathians ability to walk in sun.

d. Per Dark Blood - Zev Tirunul gets 12 Lycan/Carpathians - Guardians of All - for his pack; he is from a powerful Carpathian lineage, Dark Blood.

e. At the end of Dark Promises, Andre and Teagan; Fane and Trixie, and Aleksei and Gabrielle plan to move to states and be closer to the Triplets, ancients Andre grew up with. Although no real scene of them since then to support that fact.

f. Carpathians when communicating broadly they use the common Carpathian path, which is heard by Vampires also (since they were originally Carpathians). Will Christine address this flaw?

g. In Dark Legacy, Christine mentions of a possible counselor coming from London to aid the kids and if she doesn’t work one more from South America would come.

h. In Dark Sentinel, Aidan Savage is being sent to east coast to create a stronghold similar to what Tariq has in CA. Will Christine make him equal par to Tariq? Or will he be bound to Tariq's orders?

i. Unique / Repeat Characters with possible sub-plots or main plots of their own:

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

ii. Jubal Sanders - first introduced in Dark Descent, comes from pure Jaguar blood-line, has feelings for Jasmine Sangria per Dark Storm.

iii. Dark Celebration reveals that Paul and Ginny Chevez have Jaguar blood. Paul is tied to Nicholas De La Cruz by blood bond since Dark Secret.

iv. Jasmine Sangria - first introduced in Dark Hunger, jaguar female, pregnant as of Dark Possession. 

v. In Dark Crime, four psychic kids are saved from Vladim Malinov - Danny (15 yrs old boy), Amelia (14 yr old girl), Liv (10 yr old girl converted to Carpathian in Dark Carousel), Bella (3 yr old girl). Lourdes - Charlotte's 3 yr old niece - joins them in Dark Carousel.

vi. In Dark Carousel - Genevieve "Vi" Marten who comes to CA with Charlotte after her grandmother was murdered in France, shows strong psychic powers and has a desire to go back to Paris; Grace Parducci - Charlotte's friend and nanny to Lourdes, with psychic abilities, does not stay in Tariq's compound.

j. Perils that the Carpathians face:

i. Xavier's splinters, two residing in Sergey Malinov per Dark Legacy; Xavyion, the surviving High Mage Triplets (Xavier killed in Dark Slayer, Xaviero killed in Dark Blood); male human psychics being converted by Vadim and Sergey.

ii. Society of Human Vampire Hunters hunting the Carpathians mistaking them to be Vampires. The Morrison Center for Psychic Research targeting psychic humans and jaguar females. 

iii. Surviving Malinov Brothers - converted to vampires; Sergey Malinov introduced in Dark Slayer; Vadim Malinov introduced in Dark Crime - injured severely in Dark Legacy.

iv. The Lycan/Vampires aka Sange Ru - Carpathians who deliberately mixed blood with Lycans and voluntarily covert to Vampires.

k. Other Carpathians, Lycans and Jaguars waiting for their mates:

i. Tiberiu Bercovitz - ancient first mentioned in Dark Celebration.

ii. Luiz De La Cruz - introduced as Luiz Silva, a Jaguar converted to Carpathian by Manolito De La Cruz in Dark Possession.

iii. Matias, Lojos and Tomas - ancient triplets, first introduced in Dark Slayer. Living in Tariq's compound since Dark Crime.

iv. Gary Daratrazanoff - Introduced as Gary Jansen in Dark Magic; has Jaguar blood and related to Colby De La Cruz per Dark Celebration; converted to Carpathian in Dark Blood; becomes a true ancient when Gabrielle is claimed by Alexei in Dark Promises; becomes Second-in-Command to Tariq Asenguard per Dark Legacy. Per that plot, his lifemate is just born and residing in France. 19 years since his character had first been introduced, yet Christine hasn’t penned a tale for him. If she is basing his lifemate on one of her grand-daughters, just like Skyler, then perhaps she would wait till the grand daughter would grow in real life before penning a story between her and Gary?

v. Valentin "Val" Zhestokly - ancient Carpathian, first appearing in Dark Crime. Liv is his lifemate; will wait 8 yrs more to claim her per Dark Carousel.

vi. Remaining Five of the Seven ancients introduced in Dark Promises from the monastery, Retreat in the Veil of Mists - Sandu, Petru, Benedek, Andor, Ferro - As of Dark Legacy all live in Tariq's compound.

vii. Afanasiv "Siv" Balan and Nicu Dalca - ancient hunters who join Tariq. First introduced in Dark Carousel. 

l. Carpathian Women whom we meet along the way:

i. Shea O’Halloran – lifemate to Jacques Dubrinsky in Dark Desire.

ii. Savannah Dubrinsky - lifemate to Gregori Daratrazanoff in Dark Magic

iii. Desari Daratrazanoff - lifemate to Julian Savage in Dark Challenge

iv. Syndil - lifemate to Barack in Dark Challenge and Dark Fire

v. Francesca Del Ponce - lifemate to Gabriel Daratrazanoff in Dark Legend. As of Dark Wolf, she is pregnant again. 

vi. Natalya Shonski - lifemate to Vikirnoff Von Shrieder in Dark Demon.

vii. Ivory Malinov - Lifemate to Razvan Dragonseeker in Dark Slayer

viii. Lara Calladine - lifemate to Nicolas De La Cruz in Dark Curse

ix. Branislava "Bronnie" Dragonseeker (Lifemate to Zev Tirunul in Dark Blood), and Tatijana Dragonseeker (Lifemate to Fenris Dalka in Dark Lycan).

x. Skyler Daratrazanoff - lifemate to Dimitri Tirunul in Dark Wolf.

xi. Elisabeta Trigovise - Traian's sister, rescued from Sergey by Dragomir in Dark Legacy; Ferro's lifemate per Dark Sentinel. I have a feeling that when her story comes it would be like that wave the crescendos to the top in the series, just like how it did with Ivory and Skyler's stories. Cant wait for her story.

m. Next Generation Carpathian male and female kids:

i. Tamara - daughter of Gabriel and Francesca, born after Dark Legend.

ii. Josef  and Benjamin "Ben" Belandrake - first introduced in Dark Symphony. Nephews to Byron. In Dark Celebration a budding romance seen between Josef and Ginny - Colby's step-sister; while in Dark Lycan Skyler mentions that perhaps one or both of Gregori's daughters' may be his lifemate.

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

iv. Stefan Kane Dubrinsky - Jacques and Shea son born in Dark Celebration.

v. Alexandru "Sandu" - Mikhail and Raven son, born sometime after Dark Curse.

vi. Anastasia Daratrazanoff and Anya Daratrazanoff - twin girls of Gregori and Savannah, born in Dark Slayer. Anya perhaps to become second-in command to Alexandru.

vii. Andor and <> - Twins (a boy and girl) of Darius and Tempest.

viii. Isabella Sara Amiras - Falcon and Sara's daughter, born in Dark Blood.

ix. Carisma - Dragomir & Emeline's daughter yet to be born as of Dark Legacy; niece to Ivory Malinov. 

3. Geographical / Character / Grammatical / Historical Errors:

a. I remember that Paul Chevez was tied to a Nicholas De La Cruz by way of blood bond per Dark Secret. But in the opening family tree diagram, Christine has Jubal tied to De La Cruz family by making his last name as Sander-De La Cruz. Have to check Dark Secret once again, but I am pretty sure, Christine has errored here.

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