by Christine Feehan, fantasy (2002)
Leisure, $5.99, ISBN 0-8439-4952-X
It must be tough writing nine books in three years. Such industrious churning of books can't be good, surely. Dark Legend is a surprisingly tight and well-written book, especially for this author more well-known for her loose prose and awkward use of purple imagery (either she has really spent time on this one instead of cranking out repetitious stories or she has a new editor). But where's the plot?
If you are new to this author's Dark series, it's about this race of vampires called the Carpathians. I can go on about the vampire romance clichés, like the obligatory mind-reading crap, the innocent and pure (read: stupid) heroines walking around in darkness to comfort the self-pitying, whiny and tormented vampire, the suck-my-blood-to-heal-you sacrifices of the heroine, the blind trust on her part on his "true human side", but what's the use? The vampire romance genre is screwed that way.
But like the rest of the books in this series, Dark Legend is all about female suppression. In a time when we are all agonizing over female rights, this book openly celebrates male oppression over women, sugarcoated with a delicious layer of silly sex. It's fiction, but hell, I'm still insulted.
Francesca Del Ponce is a Carpathian. The Ponce has lived alone, because her Carpathian soul mate Gabriel has gone underground in some attempt to subjugate his twin brother Lucian. Or something. Lucian has his own book - Dark something, which I'm sure you can find out if you do a search on this site or on somewhere else, because I sure can't be bothered, to be honest. Anyway, the Ponce, like all good heroines, is a healer. Meaning, she walks around the streets at night seeking out the sick, the homeless, the losers, and whatnot and perform miracle healing on them. She's abetted by a doctor, of course.
I mean, heroines need personalities too, right? So I guess this healing-frenzy counts as "virtue and kindness, she's a good girl, so shut up and just read!" character development. She stumbles upon Gabriel who has just came out from his long slumber, tries to heal him, and gets really peeved when he sucks her blood and gives his back to her, thus sealing their bond. Or whatever excuse the author dreams up for the inevitable "he's in my head, my body, my soul, everywhere!" battle of the sexes crap.
There's some evil vampires nonsense somewhere, and I guess that counts as plot, if you can call the Ever Powerful Most Prescient Gabriel's kicking their useless, scrawny asses "plot". I mean, Gabriel's The Man (at least, until the next book when the author introduces an even more powerful "Most Powerful" vampire), so where's the conflict?
Never mind. On the bright side, Francesca shows some development in the Feehanderthal character evolution scale. She's - gasp - almost Cro-Magnon in her thinking skills. Gabriel, on the other hand, is strictly Feehanderthal. At one point, he even says that he is uncomfortable with the idea of a woman who isn't totally controlled by her husband.
I guess that's the agenda here. There are a few scenes when the Ponce begs for privacy, but our Feehanderthal Gabriel never gives her any. It's suffocating, even for me to follow. Dark Legend's superiority to her sister Dark books is a double-edged sword. On one hand, better writing's always a good thing. On the hand, better writing means there's no camp value, and without camp value, this humorless male superiority story offends and insults most effectively too.
But does it matter? Life just goes on, another day as usual, in the land of the happy, psychic-raping Feehanderthals. La, la, la.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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