Forty-one chapters in, there’s a moment in Shadow’s Bane where one (fully-clothed and French) vampire beats the holy hell out of another (naked and British) vampire.
While I’d loved the book prior to that chapter and hold up the Dorina Basarab series as one of my favorite vampire series in the genre, that scene in Shadow’s Bane took the series to a whole other level.
Ser shortly after the vampire Consul in North America appoints Dory to her war council in the previous novel, this fourth novel in the series deals with the aftermath of Dory essentially finally meeting the vampire soul that makes up part of her unconscious identity. Dorina – the vampire part of Dory’s mind and basically her twin – has more freedom than she’s had in almost five hundred years and Dory… isn’t handling the mental split very well.
On top of that, there are further issues with the fae — both the slaves who are forced to fight for entertainment and the fae that are seeking to rule the known world on their own –, Dory’s complicated relationship with the fabulously French vampire Louis-Cesare (the ultimate book boyfriend), and plenty of people who want to take Dory out before she can be confirmed as a senator.
Oh, and there’s a war between these reckless and ruthless dark mages and the rest of the magical community that isn’t willing to fall in line.
Shadow’s Bane is good. It’s funnier than I ever expected it to be – the fight scene in chapter forty-one literally left me wheezing – and I love seeing Dory evolve as a character. While she still struggles with feeling like she belongs in the vampire community as a dhampir and the daughter of one of the world’s most powerful vampires, she’s honestly come such a long way from back in the first book where she was a bitey, mean dhampir that couldn’t imagine having a home or family of her own. Shadow’s Bane isn’t just great because Dory gets to punch poozers, but it also rocks because we’re seeing her get even further fleshed out as a character as she tries to balance her needs and her fears.
I highly recommend this series because it’s a fun but intense vampire-focused series that uses a dhampir as our window to the world. Dory is a brilliant character and I just adore every chance I get to bask in the way Chance writes her!
Content Warnings/Notes: some casual ableism and relatively graphic descriptions/depictions of violence, gore, and death
Are There Sex Scenes/Sexual Content?: Yes, not necessarily explicit though
What I Liked Most About It: Marlow getting his British butt beat, the flashbacks to Mircea’s time in Venice as a baby vamp building his power, how much Louis-Cesare and Dory love each other, every time the Consul was on the page, my boy Radu, and Claire’s intense dragon rage
What I Could’ve Done Without: Dory and Louis-Cesare really could’ve spoken to each other about their relationship way sooner because that back and forth was frankly ridiculous, the audiobook narrator that gives the Chinese characters really obnoxious (and kinda racist) accents
Where Y’all Can Buy It: Amazon
Author’s Website/Social Media: Karen Chance @ Website
Rating: Highly Recommended