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Book Review: Dawnbreaker by Jocelyn Drake

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I have a confession to make: I like urban fantasy and paranormal romance novels. Okay – I've said it. I'm almost embarrassed to say it, but it's true.

I've recently gotten into some of the wildly popular adult and young adult urban fantasy/paranormal romance novels (even of the mass market paperback type) because they are full of fun and are great means of escape. That doesn't mean that I think all these novels are good. In fact, since I've started to read so many, I have become even more critical as to which ones are worthwhile reads. Not all of them are great, or even good – really, most of them are mediocre. Dawnbreaker, the third book in Jocelyn Drake's Dark Days series, however, is one of the better ones that I've read recently. I wouldn't say that it's great, but it's definitely a notch above mediocre – and, of course, downright fun.

Dawnbreaker continues the adventures of Mira the nightwalker, a kind of ancient vampire and one-of-a-kind fire bender, as she battles the naturi, a kind of evil elf-like race. The naturi are gaining power and preparing a dangerous sacrifice that will unleash the entire race on the planet and lead to death and destruction. In order to stop the naturi, Mira desperately teams up with vampire-slayer Danaus (complete with climatic relationship tension) to capture a rogue naturi princess who claims she opposes her race's apocalyptic plans. With the princess's help, Mira and Danaus must prevent an apocalyptic summoning at Machu Picchu and save humanity.

Drake writes with an ease and understanding that pulls readers through the novel. I was completely enthralled by her unique and detailed world. Even though Drake does base her races on traditional fantasy/horror creatures (vampires and elves) she throws a fresh, much-needed twist into the mix that keeps readers wondering what they are going to do next. While Drake's world can sometimes feel a little confusing or is ill-explained, the overall feel of it is dark, different, and filled with fun, unique approaches to traditional fantasy icons. Plus, while this novel does include vampires, it's not your typical vampire romance story. Sure, there is a strong romance element between two unlikely allies who must team up to save the world, but there is not a hint of vampire angst or cliche vampire romance. In fact, the vampire element seems like it's minimized in Dawnbreaker, focusing more on the vampire-based nightwalker race that Drake created for her world.

Filled with fast-paced action, unique plot elements, and a vivid world, Dawnbreaker was a surprisingly fun and powerful read from start to finish. The characters deal with realistic, adult problems while balance feelings of unease and unexpected news of treason in the ranks. While Dawnbreaker had few witty one-liners (okay, I was hoping for more a la Rachel Morgan style), the dialog feels natural and easy for the characters.

The ending of Dawnbreaker feels like it could be the end for the entire series. Even though Drake does leave an opening for subsequent novels, all of the action that previous novels have been building up to end here (and in a  rather satisfying way). While I'm not sure if I was intrigued enough to continue this series if there are more books, it's a great way to pass a lazy few hours or take some time out of a busy day to drift into another world.

Fans of Drake's Dark Days novels will eat this one up and beg for more. It's fun, fast-paced, filled with great action sequences and builds to an epic climax that blows the rest of the series out of the water. A great addition to any urban fantasy/paranormal romance fan's library.

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