REVIEW: Shades of Midnight by Lara Adrian
Dear Ms. Adrian:
I’ve had an on again off again relationship with this series. I adored Midnight Awakening but struggled with Veil of Midnight. I liked Shades better than the last two but not as much as Midnight Awakening. One of the things that I enjoyed about Shades was that the story was more about the characters and less about the overarching battle between the Rogues and the Order which has a certain staleness for me.
Alexandra Maguire is an Alaska bush pilot living in a small town called Harmony. She does supply runs and serves as a guide. She and her father moved to Alaska after a horrific attack on their family down in Florida which resulted in the death of her younger brother and her mother.
Out on a supply run she spots what looks like blood and bodies on the pristine snow covered ground which comprises the settlement of a few Natives. After landing, she views the savagery up close and is uncomfortably reminded of the attack in Florida that happened so many years ago.
A local troublemaker overhears the report of the attack on the scanner. He videotapes the remains and uploads it on the internet. The video comes to the attention of the Order in Boston, a group of super vampires devoted to eliminating rogue vampires who threaten the entire existence of the vampires. Kade, a former Alaskan, is dispatched to investigate the matter.
Kade is both reluctant and happy to return to Alaska. He left behind Alaska a year ago because his twin brother, Seth, became increasingly dark in his kills. Kade couldn’t be responsible for Seth, couldn’t continue hiding his deviancy, and Kade couldn’t bring Seth’s nature to their clan’s attention. But Alaska, for a vampire, is a beautiful place. It has short daylight hours and long expanses to run and hunt without fear of discovery. Kade must discover who is responsible for the killings, stop them, save his brother, repair his relationship with his father, and figure out what to do with his attraction toward Alex.
Alex must decide whether Alaska is safe for her any longer and whether there is anything to hold her in the remote wilderness now that her dad is gone and her best friend is sinking into a troubling malaise.
There were several opportunities to play up conflicts between Kade and Alex. When Alex puts the moves on Kade, welcome moves, Kade notices that she is a Breedmate. Breedmates are genetically enhanced females with whom vampire males can make lifelong blood bonds and procreate. Breedmates are rare and treasured. Each Breedmate gets the honor of choosing her own mate. I know this because I’ve read the series. I don’t think it was well articulated in this book. Kade recognizes that he should not allow a blood exchange and that even having sex with her is in some way not in keeping with how Breedmates are chosen. Kade’s struggle with this lasts about two seconds.
The second major area in which I thought a conflict between Kade and Alex could have been explored was that Alex’s family was destroyed by a vampire attack. Kade is a vampire. Unfortunately, the conflict that could have been generated was tepid at best despite the foreshadowing when Alex declares herself a black and white kind of person and Kade tries to tell her there are shades of grey. Alex’s response to Kade’s revelation is simply to have sex with him again.
Suffice to say that the conflict is largely external rather than internal. External conflict comes from the Alien vampire running amok, Kade’s concern over Seth, and Kade’s conflict with his father.
Toward the end, Kade engages in some late game info dumping which I thought could have been introduced far earlier to flesh out the unease Kade has with Seth and their twinship rather than the three paragraph monologue that Kade gives to one of his Breed buds.
I liked that the story was away from Boston and the sameness of what exists there (capping Rogues and hunting the bad guys). Even though Kade was essentially doing the same thing in Alaska, the story was less about vampires and more about families and surviving. Further, Kade isn’t one of those tormented guys who hates the women. He’s attracted to Alexandra and isn’t opposed to getting to know her. This entry advanced the series intriguingly and I didn’t get overloaded with the past characters. C+
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