Chicagoland Vampires #5
**Warning: do not read this review if you have not read the rest of the Chicagoland Vampires series. For those of you who have read Hard Bitten but not Drink Deep, I'll let you know when we get to those spoilers.**
From Goodreads: Clouds are brewing over Cadogan House, and recently turned vampire Merit can't tell if this is the darkness before the dawn or the calm before the storm. With the city itself in turmoil over paranormals and the state threatening to pass a paranormal registration act, times haven't been this precarious for vampires since they came out of the closet. If only they could lay low for a bit, and let the mortals calm down.
That's when the waters of Lake Michigan suddenly turn pitch black-and things really start getting ugly.
Chicago's mayor insists it's nothing to worry about, but Merit knows only the darkest magic could have woven a spell powerful enough to change the very fabric of nature. She'll have to turn to friends old and new to find out who's behind this, and stop them before it's too late for vampires and humans alike.
I really enjoyed the first four books of the Chicagoland Vampires series. Merit and Ethan had one of the better literary relationships, there was always plenty of action and suspense, and I got to read about delicious Chicago food. In Drink Deep, as you (hopefully) know, we're missing a key element: Ethan Sullivan. Without that wacky, drama-filled, frustrating, and altogether lovable relationship, this book just wasn't what the others were.
It didn't help that Drink Deep was also missing the villain of the rest of the series. Yes, in one fell swoop Chloe Neill managed to kill off public enemy number one and the major love interest. So it's no wonder Drink Deep felt like it was lacking something.
The plot of the book was actually fairly good. There was plenty of mystery and the culprit came as a big surprise to me at the end, though I didn't entirely find that part believable. However, I think there may be more to the story than meets the eye, and the ending certainly gives a solid direction for the books to follow.
One thing that does bother me increasingly about this series is the voice, or lack thereof. While it seems that Merit has a fairly unique voice in general, when you pay attention, all the other characters sound the same as she does. It's a little jarring to hear the same catch-phrases repeated from several very different characters, especially when those who are supposed to be hundreds of years old talk like college undergrads.
**And now I'm going to talk about the actual events of Drink Deep, so if you haven't read it yet, you should probably head somewhere else for now.**
So Ethan. His death kind of seems utterly pointless now that he's back. I'm not a fan of authors killing off and then resurrecting characters on a whim, and I'm honestly not sure why he had to die in the first place. So Merit would know he loved her? The jumping-in-front-of-a-stake act showed that one pretty well; he didn't actually have to die from it. So they could be apart for another book? Seems kind of silly. My current theory is that being dead (for real, not undead) gave Ethan some kind of weird powers in addition to the weird powers he already had. But it's a little frustrating to have death so wantonly disregarded, even in a vampire book.
I was also a bit bewildered by Mallory's sudden switch from best friend to villain - I got the impression, at the very end, that dark magic was somehow seductive, but that would have been a more effective argument if it had been made before she decided to become some crazy evil witch. Certainly I don't remember any signs of impending bad-guy-dom at the time Mallory was supposed to have stolen the Maleficium.
Does this book feel like a season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to anyone else? I love Buffy, but I feel like Cordelia should suddenly pop in to Cadogan House and say something nasty before making out with Xander in a closet. Buffy was great because it occasionally paused to acknowledge its ridiculousness while still being fun and exciting. Drink Deep is often an amusing adventure in Silliness, but the population of Silliness thinks they live in Chicago.
Drink Deep is still fun and an enjoyable read, but not as good or entertaining as the previous installments. Hopefully now that the series has a solid direction again, the next book will be an improvement.
GARS Score: 1 (1/3/2/2)
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If you liked Drink Deep, try:
Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost
First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
Once Bitten by Kalayna Price