ARC Review: Twilight Fulfilled (Children of Twilight #2), by Maggie Shayne
Utana, father of the vampire race, and an immortal who has been trapped inside the ashes of his body for thousands of years, is on a crusade to purge his sin against the gods by obliterating the origination of that sin… his vampire children, all of them. Brigit Poe, one of the prophecied Twins, the “evil” twin who has been trained to fight and kill with her laser-eyebeams-o-death, has been given a terrible task: kill Utana before he kills all of them. This second offering in the Children of Twilight series by Maggie Shayne starts off slow, but really takes off about halfway through, before barrelling non-stop toward a heart-breaking, explosive conclusion. A GraveTells recommended read!
- Title: Twilight Fulfilled
- Series: Children of Twilight – book #2 / Wings In the Night – book #18
- Author: Maggie Shayne
- Prominent Characters: Brigit & Utana
- Recommended reader age: 16+
- Sexual content level: light-to-moderate
Brigit is modern, spunky, irreverent, tender, and intelligent, and she doesn’t need a man to save her… usually. Utana is old-fashioned (duh, thousands of years old!), has been a king, a priest, and (considered to some) a god, can shoot crazy lasers of destruction from his own eyes, and is working some major mojo in that big sculpted (and apparently revivable) body of his. Needless to say, he doesn’t think he needs a woman to save him either, but he hasn’t met Brigit yet. Over the last few years, Harlequin has really been busting out of its staid, rusty old ravishing-innocents-and-bodice-rippers stereotype, and Twilight Fulfilled is an engaging contemporary, hip paranormal romance in a much beloved series.
This story is told in third-person, but the characterization of the voices is so well done, it reads like first-person. It starts off as a composite cast story, with several storylines weaving in and out; that’s probably what made the first half of the book feel slow for me, and the main reason for the 4.0 rating (would have otherwise been higher). We should take into account that I read Twilight Fulfilled without first reading Twilight Prophecy (the first book in the Children of Twilight series) or any of the numerous Wings in the Night books, so my observations are from the point of a true newbie to this universe. That will be helpful for readers who, like me, are starting fresh with this one, and probably annoying to readers who are long-time fans of Maggie Shayne’s vampires. Something else that was both a positive and a negative for me was Utana’s obvious initial trouble with the English language. His stumbling pronunciations and word misuse made for a few fun comedic moments (which, IMO, could have been played on a little more heavily), but also made it difficult for me to identify with him as a character. Ms. Shayne does a great job, though, of progressing his language skills at a believable pace; he may be highly intelligent, but he’s no virtuoso and I like that – it makes him more real and he needs it. I mean, seriously, this dude is the original Noah, the father of the vampire race, an ancient Sumerian king and priest, and can wipe out entire blocks with his mega Cyclops gaze… he definitely isn’t your average easily-relatable hero-next-door type!
Something else that was very notable, and may actually be a detriment for Ms. Shayne’s more devout monotheistic fans, was the emotional and psychological debates (rather obviously) hidden within the dialogue and characters’ thoughts. I don’t know whether the views expressed in this story are Ms. Shayne’s or simply what came to her with the characters, but she certainly does a convincing job of debating against the one-all-powerful-deity-who-oversees-everything-and-demands-war-and-carnage philosophy. In case that last bit has anyone feeling a bit put-off, the message doesn’t come off as atheist, but rather only that men shouldn’t presume to know the minds of their gods or to speak for them in text (and rely on those written words), and should independently make decisions without shackling themselves to unfounded restrictions and expectations.
Another interesting psychological observation, that I haven’t seen in a PNR book to date, is that perhaps the old standby behead-em-burn-em-scatter-the-ashes method of executing a vampire might be killing these creatures, good and evil, in body only. If a vampire is truly immortal, then you cannot kill him, right? So what happens to the spirit when the body is destroyed? Wouldn’t it go mad after thousands of years of sensory deprivation? Do they never get to “pass on” to whatever life is next? Interesting indeed! Sorta makes me view vampire hunters in a whole new, less than flattering, light.
On other characters, J.W. is really memorable and likeable, and this isn’t even his story! Twilight Prophecy is definitely going on my 2011 Reading List!
No one ever said love was easy…
She was supposed to kill him, not wound him and then worry about whether he was feeling it.
Protection-proschmection, go for the throat!
“I felt compelled to protect you. And I suppose that’s natural too, given that I… took a little sip from your…” She made the mistake of looking at his shoulder and then his neck as she spoke to him. “Your great big, corded, hard, salty neck.”
Justification for war?
She wanted to convince this man that religion was not a good enough reason for genocide. Then again, it was one of the main reasons why anyone had ever committed such an atrocity or gone to war in the history of mankind.
On how Utana became immortal…
“Maybe the gods wanted you to start a new race. Or maybe it was something you ate.”
If you like Twilight Fulfilled and the rest of the Children of Twilight and Wings in the Night series…
If you enjoyed Twilight Fulfilled for its long, family-like history of related vampire novels, you may also like the books in Christine Feehan’s The Dark (Carpathian) series (beginning with Dark Prince). The Dark series has more than twenty consecutive novels published and links most of the characters together with close ties of family and friendship.
If you enjoyed Twilight Fulfilled for its intense climax and spunky heroine/hero chemistry, you may also enjoy the Night Huntress (starting with Halfway to the Grave) novels by Jeaniene Frost. Ms. Frost’s Cat is, like Brigit, a kick-ass vampire-human hybrid with an independent streak and a weakness for a sculpted male chest. And Bones… well, Bones fans would agree that PNR heroes don’t get much better than Bones. *grin*
Whew, that was a lot of “thoughts”, yeah? If I didn’t lose you at the religious part (hey, I don’t write it, I just review it!) and you’ve made it this far, I recommend reading this book. Would I read Twilight Prophecy first? Definitely. For starters, you’re going to spoil some of the events of the initial Children of Twilight book if you don’t read it first. Secondly, there’s a lot of groundwork for this story laid down in the first novel, and the explosive ending will probably have a much greater impact if you’ve followed the story from the start.
Speaking of explosive conclusions, Twilight Fulfilled has one of the most charismatic endings in a book that I’ve read in a long time. It starts picking up steam about half-way through, and becomes nearly impossible to put down as it progresses. Utana and Brigit may not have known each other long, but you REALLY want things to work out for them! If this series is not already on your reading list, put it up there somewhere near the top – the part you’re actually going to read (yeah, you know you’re guilty!). If you were already looking forward to this new Maggie Shayne novel and have been a fan of her vampire world since the Wings of the Night series, you will not be disappointed! Twilight Fulfilled is a GraveTells “Recommended!” novel.
|Rating: Twilight Fulfilled|
|4.0 Hearts: Recommended!|
Pre-order Twilight Fulfilled on Amazon (Available on 9/20/2011)
http://www.maggieshayne.com/ (Maggie Shayne’s website)
http://www.christinefeehan.com/ (The Dark series website)
http://jeanienefrost.com/ (The Night Huntress series website)