If you’re a fan of paranormal romance/suspense and you haven’t checked out Lynn Viehl’s Darkyn series, you are missing out on some of the most original and well-told stories in the genre. Her seven books — If Angels Burn, Private Demon, Dark Need, Night Lost, Evermore, Twilight Fall and the newly released Stay the Night – have spun a new and very interesting take on the vampire legend that blends historical figures and events, modern medical research, and conspiracy theories with a whole bag full of plot twists and turns.
Stay the Night has only been on book shelves for a few weeks, and already two things are crystal clear. The first is that Viehl is tying up a lot of the questions and storylines presented in previous books – for what purpose, I can only speculate. Second, she’s simply written the best book I’ve seen from her so far.
The basic premise of the Darkyn mythos is that during the Crusades, the Templar knights who went to the Holy Land to fight for king and country picked up a “curse.” Upon their return home, a plague swept through Europe, claiming thousands of lives, including many of the medieval warrior priests and their families. Because of the “curse,” those who went to the Holy Land and those closest to them rose from the grave three days after death. They were in most senses vampires, needing to feed on blood and being nearly indestructible, not to mention seemingly immortal.
Considering the time period in which this took place, it’s logical that those who witnessed this phenomenon instantly condemned the newly risen Darkyn as agents of the devil. Soon the Catholic church took up the torch of the masses and formed a secret society called The Brethren. This group has spent centuries breeding fanatics whose sole purpose is to torture and murder Darkyn and those who are allied with them. They don’t care that the Darkyn have long stopped killing humans for food and can no longer change anyone else to grow their ranks. Though the Brethren have long since been banished by the church, they still pose as Catholic priests and monks as a cover for their agenda and pursuit of Darkyn prisoners.
Fast forward to the 21st-century Chicago and the offices of Dr. Alexandra Keller. She’s the fastest plastic surgeon in the world. The series’ first book, If Angels Burn, establishes how she’s the first human to make the change to Darkyn in a millennium and sets up her romantic relationship with Michael Cyprien, the Darkyn ruler of America. She becomes the only modern doctor the Darkyn have ever known and figures out that the “curse” is actually some kind of pathogen that infected those who returned from the Crusades and was passed to others. The pathogen is the cause of the vampirism, and Alex is determined to find a cure.