Night Lost by Lynn Viehl
(Signet, $6.99, R) ISBN 978-0451221025
****
Book four of the Darkyn finally got to me.  While Viehl’s mechanics are completely acceptable and her characters rather fascinating, the first three books just never pulled together.  They are adventurous and avoid many of the obnoxious clichés popular in the genre, but it was difficult to become invested in the romantic relationship at the center of the stories. Nicola Jefferson and Gabriel Seran finally heralded a change.

Nick Jefferson is a thief.  She grew up quick and hard in the English countryside after her mother and stepfather were murdered, and it led her to a roving life.  She’s searching for a religious icon she calls the Golden Madonna, but she doesn’t let her goal stop her from “collecting” other items along the way.  Since it is a religious artifact, most of Nick’s travels take her to various churches and cathedrals.  It is from a rundown church in a small French town that she rescues Gabriel Seran.

Gabriel has been held captive and tortured for three years by a radical religious group called the Brethren of Light. The Brethren are determined to destroy all of Gabriel’s kind, the Darkyn.  The Darkyn - although they become a little defensive when called vampires - drink blood, are sensitive to daylight, naturally live forever, and have superhuman strength and psychic abilities.  The Brethren claim they are evil.  Darkyn history states they descend from a group of Knights Templar who were cursed (or infected, depending on the viewpoint of the individual) during the Crusades.

Gab riel has been blinded and crucified by the time Nick manages to haul him out of the church.  He knows his kind have stopped searching for him, and it is even more heartbreaking when they arrive at his estate to find it in ruin and his servants slain.  The pair continues to Nicola’s family farm in England, and then onto the castle of the Darkyn king, Richard.  Much of what they learn along the way does little to ease Gabriel’s heart.

Throughout the book, the author takes us between several scenarios.  Some people don’t like this, and I’ll admit to finding it a bit choppy in Private Demon, but Viehl has found her way this time.  The beauty to this series is that a couple’s story doesn’t end when “their” book has finished.  There is a storyline that flows through all of the books, and that is the persecution by and pending war with the Brethren, which affects all of the Darkyn.  Each book brings out a little more of the Darkyn’s history with the cult.

In Night Lost, Alexandra, Michael Cyprien’s consort, has been kidnapped by the Darkyn king, Richard.  Michael is the leader of the American branch of the Darkyn, and Alexandra a doctor whom he recently turned to Darkyn.  This doesn’t sit well with Michael, and he brings two of his people with him to confront their king.  The three separate storylines converge at Richard’s fortress and everything bursts into a wonderful display of cunning, insight, and action.

The Darkyn novels have their own language.  The words, mostly bastardized French or Latin, are not difficult to figure out in context.  However, as a detail person I would like to know precisely what each means instead of just working with a general idea.  Lynn Viehl thankfully does not buy into the theory that retelling the entire previous book is interesting.  However, a little bit of a recap would come in handy, especially for someone who just happens across the third or fourth book at the store and starts the series there.

The one negative about Night Lost was the odd occasional dream sequence.   From the beginning, Nick has dreams involving Gabriel.  However, dreams aren’t Gabriel’s psychic “talent;” in fact, they are Thierry’s, from Private Demon.  As the book progresses, the dreams themselves and Gabriel’s role in them become more and more ambiguous. The story could have done without the dreams altogether, since there never is a satisfactory conclusion or explanations for some of the bizarre happenings in them.

Altogether, Night Lost was an immensely satisfying read, especially since I have been waiting for something just a little more from the series.  It certainly brings in several new angles to the paranormal genre, and I just love the intermingling of the characters instead of the isolation of a specific couple.

--Sarrah Knight


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