I really enjoyed the previous book in Viehl’s Darkyn series, so I was disappointed when this sixth installment fell flat. Unremarkable lead characters and an unconvincing romance take center stage in Twilight Fall. The author’s talent, however, saves it from being entirely ordinary, as quite a bit of new information is introduced to the series and parts of the book do fly by.
Valentin’s immobile sword arm serves as a constant reminder of the events that transpired at the end of Private Demon. He has only loved one woman in his life, Jema Shaw. Sadly, she had no idea about his regard and only saw him as the kindly neighbor who brought her flowers every year on her birthday. She fell in love with Thierry Durand and when Valentin found out during his masquerade ball, he attacked Thierry. During the battle, Valentin accidentally ran Jema through, earning himself a severed arm. Alexandra (a recurring, important character) was able to reattach his arm, but he hasn’t been able to use it since. For the past three years, he has been haunted by all that happened that horrible night.
Liling Harper tends the gardens at the Lighthouse Rehabilitation Center, owned by Valentin. Amongst the patients, she is known as a kind woman who can at times take their pain away. At first she only interests Valentin because she consistently visits Luisa Lopez, who suffered a serious attack (perhaps at the hands of the Brethren) and has been recuperating ever since. The Darkyn keep an eye on Luisa, so Valentin is suspicious about Lili’s intentions. With his talent for extracting the truth from humans, Valentin finds out that Lili is simply lonely like Luisa, a fact that stays with him, for he too knows the bitterness of loneliness.
One day, without her knowledge, Lili’s picture is displayed in the paper and a red swan tattoo on her shoulder is clearly visible. The Brethren (a group of men disguised as Catholic clergy who have hunted the Darkyn for centuries) believed for years that she was dead; that newspaper clipping suddenly brings assassins running. As Lili tries to escape, she encounters Valentin, who graciously offers her a seat on his private jet, since he happens to be traveling that day to Atlanta. On the way, the two have sex, encounter a lot of trouble, and crash the plane in the middle of Nowhere, Florida. A lot of information is divulged in this book, so I don’t want to give away any secrets, but I will say that it starts to explain why the women in the previous books were able to be changed successfully into Darkyn, when that hadn’t happened in many centuries.
While I appreciated learning this – and continue to look forward to reading about some of the characters I previously came to love in this series – this was my least favorite of the books to date. I liked Valentin in Private Demons, but I didn’t feel like I knew his character in this book at all. He seemed very wooden and I felt absolutely no connection between him and Lili. Their sexual relationship was about dominance and submission, which I never expected of Valentin. It’s not that I don’t like to read about that type of relationship, but in this case it didn’t sit well with me, probably because of that lack of connection. To be fair, their romance took up a very small part of the book; most of which centers on new revelations that will likely drive later books in the series.
A whole lot of power is coming into play and though I’m in the for the long haul – at least for now – I’m not sure I like the direction the series is going. Liling is not a normal woman, just as the heroines of the previous books were not. But she has too much power at her control. Even as a human she seems more powerful than pretty much any of the Darkyn we’ve met. I’ve liked the fact that in this series the Darkyn have typical vampire traits and then only one other talent they can use; they’re not all-powerful and each have their own strengths and weaknesses. The equilibrium gets all thrown off if some humans can have more talent than the Darkyn.
I also didn’t like John Keller’s presence in this book. I’ve never really liked him, just as I’ve never fully accepted Alexandra (she’s the heroine of the first book and he, a former priest, is her brother), yet they’re the only ones who have consistently been strung throughout the series. I’d much rather see other characters, like Jamys. On that note, one of the highlights for me was seeing characters from Evermore make their own contribution to the story.
While I obviously wasn’t very satisfied with Twilight Fall – too much new information meant parts of the story, the romance in particular, suffered from a lack of attention – I continue to enjoy the Darkyn series as a whole and certainly look for book seven, but with some trepidation. Oh well, we’ll see how the next one goes….