Posted on June 23, 2010 by Monica Valentinelli
Available at Amazon.com
NIGHT MYST is the first book in a vampire series by Yasmine Galenorn. Written in the first person point-of-view, the premiere novel of the Indigo Court focuses on Cicely Waters: who she is, who she was and who she might become in the midst of a deadly power struggle between two, different types of vampires.
At this point, I’d like to point out that while I’ll make every effort not to include spoilers, there may be some in this review. Consider yourself warned.
As a reader, I often approach a new vampire series with some amount of hesitation, because vampires, in my mind, should be monsters. There are books within popular culture that offer new types of vampires without their weaknesses. Now mind you, I’m a huge fan of Buffy: the Vampire Slayer and was even drawn to Anne Rice back in the day. So, when I say “monster” I mean that a vampire is not (and can never be) human. Try as they might, they might mimic the actions of mortals (if that is their goal) but they are, in many ways, superior to mortals because they feed off of them. In this particular book, there are a few, different types of vampires but let me assure you — the vampires here are definitely not human and they know they are superior.
The story of NIGHT MYST is told from the perspective of Cicely Waters, a witch whose primary focus is the power of the wind. After returning to her home town, she quickly finds herself embroiled in a dangerous power struggle between the so-called “Vein Lords,” which follow the more traditional vampire archetype, and the vampiric fae. I don’t want to discuss the plot too much, in fear that I’ll ruin what happens for you, but what I can tell you is that the book has magic as its primary focus. I feel that this is important to point out here, because there were very few parts where you didn’t see, hear, or feel the magic in this story. While this fits Cicely’s character to a “t,” it was difficult to imagine what this world would be like if it wasn’t for this dangerous situation.
The situation in New Forest, Washington is dire and steeped in ancient mysteries. The fae in this world are separated into the Seelie and Unseelie; at an earlier time in their history, the Vein Lords tried to “turn” the Unseelie into vampires. Now, from what I’ve read, the vampires in this particular plot are mostly ancient, active, seductive and very deadly. While the typical weaknesses for the Vein Lords do seem to apply, I was a bit curious about the age of the vampires and how they’ve been able to survive for that long. The fae vampires, on the other hand, are downright horrifying. What do you get when you mix an Unseelie with a vampire? How about, for starters, a being that can walk in the daylight? Or one that can feed off blood but also a witch’s soul? As you can imagine, the power struggle between the two types of vampires leaves everyone else vulnerable in New Forest — including Cicely. In many ways, she is tossed about by the winds of fate and is given the illusion of choice. That is, up until she backs herself into a corner. NIGHT MYST isn’t about the choices that Cicely must make to save her friends and loved ones — it’s about how she handles the choices she has to make.
By far, the strongest part of this book is the pacing. Galenorn literally grabs you by the throat in the first chapter and doesn’t let go. I felt that the focus on action caused some revelations to be a bit anti-climactic, but the interesting thing about this book is that I felt it had elements of so many genres it could attract more than one reader. There’s strong, romantic tension between Cicely and her former lover Grieve, but there’s also a healthy does of mystery, dark fantasy and action as well. I’m happy to report that none of the characters are “weak” or “whiny” — each has their own set of strengths and weaknesses. At the same time, I felt myself wondering what the “cost” was to the magic that was prevalent in this book, but also felt that some of that might be revealed later. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the magic part of NIGHT MYST, but I was also hoping I could understand the role of mortals as they try to survive in this modern-day vampire story. That’s probably why I felt myself drawn to the character of Leo as much as I was: because I was trying to get a sense of scale.
For several reasons, NIGHT MYST has the look and feel of story written at the climax of an epic tale. This is not the time to be asking too many questions; this is the time when you have to watch to see who will live and who will die. The back story, when it does occur, is explored so that the characters can help each other survive. If there are gaps, things that you don’t understand, they are there to force you to wonder while you race alongside the main cast of characters. If my suspicions are correct, the series will continue to get darker as events continue to unfold. I sincerely hope that Cicely doesn’t grow “too” powerful; although she was pretty well-balanced in this book, there were some things that were hinted at that might make the overall situation less like a game of chess and more like a free-for-all.
In the end, I felt that NIGHT MYST was an adventurous, fast read that had the right mix of tension, passion and tenderness. There’s enough in this one book for several types of readers; I felt that there was more than enough in NIGHT MYST to satisfy this one.
Review by Monica Valentinelli