Karolina Dalca, Dark Eyes is an outstanding 5-star debut novel that combines mythological creatures like vampires, werewolves and dryads and adds a thriller vibe in a fantasy setting.
Betrayed by those around her, she abandons her dreams of becoming an investigator and flees, trusting only herself. Her police internship would never prove more useful. Hoofing it through the wilderness, she makes it to her university dorm, disheveled but delightfully deflowered.
Enter a full vampire: one wielding dark magic and a ride out of Canada. A fugitive from the law, Karo complies with his demands to escape, unsure whether his requests are bewitched. She vows to clear her name and avenge her mother’s death, but Karo’s family secrets aren’t so easily left behind.
The first thing that got my attention was the dedication:
This book is dedicated to
every down-on-her-luck-woman out there
who needs a reminder that her inner strength
is the sharpest tool she has.
We see the story unfold from Karo’s perspective and get to experience a rollercoaster of emotions along with her. Karolina Dalca was born in Romania (which was exciting for me to hear considering I am Romanian), but then her mother moved to Canada. Now she dreams of being an investigator and works hard to achieve that. But her plans go awry when her mother is killed in the crossfire of a dryad hunt and the police blame her, forcing her to flee to Romania, looking for her father’s side of the family which is a mystery soon to be solved.
Karo is half vampire and half gypsy, so she combines the magic abilities of both – the vampire’s strength (and in her case, fire magic) and the gypsy’s earth magic. M.R. Noble’s vampires are born, not made and they can father children. I enjoyed this twist of the vampire lore.
She’s assisted by two men in her journey: Roman – a werewolf she’s known all her life and Andre – a vampire sent by her uncle who gains her trust by helping her out of a difficult situation. A well-balanced love triangle starts forming as the trio is on the run and fighting to evade the assassins sent by Karo’s other uncle.
The story reads as a thriller in a fantasy setting. Karo is a very likable character although at times she makes some questionable decisions that put her in danger.
In her quest, Karo gets dragged through the underbelly of the Easter European vampire society which is run pretty much like the mob. It’s an unpleasant world hidden from unsuspecting humans, with gory details typical of vampire horrors.
There’s not a single dull moment and we get a few plot twists and humorous moments, like a temporary body swap. I won’t go into details because I don’t want to spoil the story for you.
I recommend this novel to all fantasy lovers. It ends in a very satisfying way which also sets the way for the sequel.
About the author
M. R. Noble has played a tug of war between science and art her whole life, but the rope broke when she wrote the first line of The Dark Eyes Series. Immersed up to her keyboard in paranormal romance and urban fantasy, she enjoys blending the real with the surreal. The only drawback is she misplaces her mug while dreaming up her next scene, and soon finds herself six cups overpoured.
Keeping to her Lake Simcoe roots, she is a member of the Writers Community of York Region (WCYR), where her muse is made not found . . . over a hefty cup of coffee.
Praise for M. R. Noble’s Debut, KAROLINA DALCA, DARK EYES:
“This book grabs you by the throat and does not let go! A fast paced, enthralling journey through a hidden underworld of vampires, werewolves, and other beings of the night who wield a fascinating array of powers to devastating effect. Compared to the more stay-at-home-type of vampires and werewolves I know, these protagonists are pushed beyond the human limit. I Highly recommend you acquire this book and hole up somewhere safe for the ride.” —Stuart Rutherford, actor from WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS
“Fans of Kim Harrison will be drawn into the imagery of Noble’s first book of the Dark Eyes series. In between bouts of fighting and the intensity of paranormal, dark fantasy, there are moments of comedy that make this series opener a real page-turner.” —Booklist.
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