Posted on May 8, 2008 by alanajoli
In the third installment of the ongoing “Morganville Vampires” series, not-quite-seventeen year old Claire has opened a whole new can of worms: she’s agreed to work for the Founder, Amelie, an ancient vampire who has, for some reason been sticking up for her since she came to Morganville. It seems a simple enough exchange at first: Protection (with a capital P) for herself and her friends by promising her obedience. Better yet, her first task is taking advanced classes, and she finds herself with a scholarship to boot. But not all of those classes are the safe, classroom kind: she has an independent study with Myrnin, an old vampire who is brilliant, but seems on the edge of losing it.
As much as Claire is engaged in the study of alchemy and excited by the new learning, she realizes exactly how much of a tasty treat she appears to be when Myrnin loses control. Add to that an attempt on a vampire friend’s life and the ongoing murders–by a human, not a vampire–of young women in Morganville, possibly committed by roommate Eve’s crazy brother, and peril can be found in abundance. But then, it’s just another day in Morganville.
Like Dead Girl’s Dance (#2 in the series), Midnight Alley doesn’t feel like a stand alone novel. It begins just after Claire has signed a contract and ends not only with a lead in for the next book, but with a full on introduction of a new potential adversary. (I would have preferred the end that happened in book #2–the stakes change at the end of the book, but in such a way that the story feels concluded, at least temporarily. Nothing feels concluded at the end of #3.)
The new characters in Midnight Alley, particularly Myrnin, are engaging, and Claire’s deepening understanding that the world isn’t a simple place–Vamps on one side, and Humans on the other–is the compelling development driving the story forward. There’s plenty of action, of course (given the summary, how could there not be?), and the human monsters are as plentiful as things that go bump in the night. The romance between Claire and Shane is at a stale-mate until she turns seventeen–and refreshingly, there isn’t a comparison drawn between the sexual “monster” and the uncontrollable hunger of the vampires. In fact, with the exception of Michael (whom we met as a ghost), the vampires aren’t equated with sex at all: they’re more like organized crime bosses who are feared–and revered–by those under their protection.
Caine is playing with that set up well, and the world feels progressively less White Wolf based as the complexity deepens: corruption isn’t everywhere, but figuring out where to look for good in others is difficult. Midnight Alley is worth picking up, but only if you’re planning to invest in the whole series; it doesn’t stand on its own.
Review by Alana Abott
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