Oh Lynn Viehl, how I love you and hate you! First, you write this phenomenal vampire series about the Darkyn, warrior priests from the time of the Crusades who fell victim to a virus that made them immortal and dependent on blood.
Then you left me hanging at the end of the series, but threw me a bone with your spin-off series about the Kyndred. It seems in Viehl’s Darkyn universe, a nefarious sect of the Catholic church has been systematically trying to eradicate the Darkyn from the world, and in turn have become sadistic monsters themselves who have genetically enhanced orphans (the Kyndred) using samples they’ve collected from the so-called “bad guys” they hunt.
The first book in the Kyndred series, Shadowlight, left me unsatisfied. The structure of the story was too complex and the characters not connected enough for me to really get into it. After a few e-mails back and forth with her, I found out why the book did not sound like the voice I’ve come to know and crave over the last few years, and she promised the next installment would be better.
Oh boy, was she right.
Dreamveil is the second book in the Kyndred series and is such a twisty teasing story that I found myself cursing the author for her skill at dropping breadcrumbs and begging her for more with every turn of the page. This story focuses on Rowan, who in Shadowlight was in love with her friend Matthias, who, unfortunately, was fated for someone else.
In Dreamveil, Rowan licks her wounds as she makes her way to Boston via New York City, the place she grew up and ran away from for very good reasons. Still, she can’t just pass through and on her way to take care of some personal business, takes a spill on her Ducati and nearly gets killed in the process. What she doesn’t know is that she was forced to strategically wipe out by the actions of a teenager who has been following her. The kid wants her to be the damsel in distress for the hot French chef whose restaurant abuts the alley so that he will help her stay in the city.
And so he does, but as you read on, the mystery surrounding Jean-Marc Desant gets heavier and heavier, enough to stump anyone who knows anything about the Darkyn series. Desant gives Rowan a job, a place to live, and some help getting her bike fixed while he struggles with his growing desire for her and how to make her stay.
Then there’s Rowan’s new neighbor, Sean, who is grumpy, sarcastic, and has a mile-high wall build so tightly around him that even the Titans would have a hard time breaking it down. To make things worse, Sean finds himself swept up an unwanted and irresistible attraction to Rowan. And though he’s got a very sick, very rich man threatening to take Sean’s head if he doesn’t find his daughter for him, he can’t seem to stay away from the intriguing woman across the hall, even though he knows it would be better for everyone if he did.
Dreamveil definitely brings Viehl’s intricate storytelling style back to the forefront, as every chapter holds something new. She usually walks a very thin line between being confusing and writing one heck of a puzzle for the reader to solve. With Shadowlight, she crossed the line with too many movements through time and the introduction of too many new characters at once. Dreamveil, however, has just the right number of characters, nods to the past, hints toward the future, and infuriating plot teasing to drive any reader nuts with pleasure/pain.
One thing to keep in mind is that some of those “ah ha!” moments may be lost on readers who have not read the Darkyn series. For example, the hints dropped about Desant’s identity will be obvious to those who know what the Darkyn are of who it is in the paintings he creates; those who don’t may be confused.
Also, I found myself periodically forgetting exactly what the Kyndred were and the difference between a Kyndred (what the Darkyn call the orphans who were experimented on) and the Takyn (those who have discovered they are the children in this program, but know nothing of the Darkyn). My solution to that would be for Viehl to write a field guide, explaining the stories of each of the books, the characters, and how they interconnect. Sherrilyn Kenyon has a great one for her Dark-Hunters series, and I think the Darkyn world is screaming for one, as well.
In all, I think though the Kyndred series may have gotten off to a rough start with its first installment, this second story has got more chops and potential for making this series as good as its predecessor.