Midnight Bites by Rachel Caine

  • Midnight Bites, by Rachel Caine

Rating: * * * * *IMG_2479

Series: A Morganville Vampires Short Story Collection

Publisher: Allison and Busby

Publication Date: March 2016

Synopsis: ‘Bringing together everything Rachel Caine has written in short form about Morganville, this collection is carefully organised into a timeline so you can read from the earliest adventures – some of which belong to vampires – all the way through to post-Daylighters, the final novel in the series. Midnight Bites includes more than 50,000 words of brand-new content, alongside stories compiled from the author’s website and anthologies. Including ‘Dead Man Stalking’ and ‘Pitch-Black Blues’, these tales feature everyone’s favourite bunny-slipper-wearing mad scientist, a fatal car crash, zombies, eerie carnival grounds, a blood-dispensing vending machine and much more. This diverse and supercharged group of stories will shine a little more light in the murkiest corners of Morganville.’
The ‘Morganville Vampires’ series means a lot to me, as I have been reading (and rereading!) these books for the past eight years, and they have taken me from the start of my teenage years to nearly the end of them. The characters are all very dear to me, and so reading ‘Midnight Bites’, a collection of new and old short stories, feels like a reunion with old friends. It is fantastic to see them all again!
There are so many aspects of this collection that I love and it would take a very long blog post to list them all, but I wanted to highlight a few of them:
Firstly, I really like the fact that this is a diverse collection of stories. There are many different points of view, including Hannah Moses’, Myrnin’s and Sam’s, as well as the four main characters, Eve, Shane, Claire, and Michael’s. Each character voice is unique, but they are all engaging. Additionally, the stories have different feels to them. Some of the stories are very emotional, such as ‘Grudge’, the story of the day that Shane angered Monica Morrell and his family was changed forever; some stories are creepy and mysterious, including ‘And One for the Devil’ in which Room 13 disappears and takes someone with it; other stories are more light-hearted and are romantic, such as ‘Lunch Date’.
I also really enjoy seeing younger versions of Eve, Shane and Michael. In ‘Grudge’ and ‘New Blood’ we see them all when they are in High School, before Eve and Shane have moved into the Glass House. It’s very sweet to see Eve’s initial feelings for Michael. It’s also fascinating in these stories to see more of Eve and Shane’s relationships with their family members, particularly their siblings. However, seeing Shane and Alyssa’s relationship, and his reaction to the fire, is heartbreaking.
Myrnin is a unique and fascinating character, one of my favourite characters in YA, and I love seeing more of him in this collection. In these stories we see more of his origins – we learn about his family and witness his first meeting with a vampire – and we see him in multiple centuries, with his past and present selves meeting in some tales. In several of the tales, he is in a terrible situation and must rise out of it with the help of Lady Grey. I really like these two together – she brings him back to himself. One of my favourite Myrnin quotes in ‘Midnight Bites’ comes from the story ‘Nothing Like An Angel’, when Myrnin has been found, after being tortured by a researcher, by Lady Grey. It’s a very emotional moment and this description of Myrnin’s feelings and sense of being comfortable resonated with me:
‘Lady Grey walked him into dark hallways, and for some ill reason Myrnin felt safer in the gloom than he had in the light. He’d adapted to the shadows, he thought. So many years in the dark, it had seeped into him and stained him.’
Another character I really enjoyed seeing again in this collection and one who stands out for me is Miranda, Eve’s psychic friend. She appears at Eve’s eighteenth birthday celebrations in ‘The First Day Of The Rest of Your Life’, and is very insistent about which seat Eve should take in the car when they make a journey. Eve and the others are bemused by this, but Eve listens and sits next to Miranda, which turns out to be very lucky for her…
One of the quotes I love best in this collection is from the story ‘A Whisper in The Dark’, which tells of what happens when a new vampire with an alarming agenda comes to town and claims a connection to Eve. The story is told from Michael’s point of view and this description of Eve struck me as being a really beautiful image, one which is especially touching because Michael is a vampire:
‘She gave him a warm, quick smile and leant in to fit her warmth against his side – sunlight in flesh, his own portable sun that heated but never burnt him.’
I would definitely recommend this book, and indeed any of Rachel Caine’s other Young Adult novels, which include ‘Prince of Shadows’ and ‘The Great Library Series’ as well as the ‘Morganville Vampires’ series. I have read and loved all of her teen novels, of which there are nearly twenty, and so Rachel Caine is one of my favourite authors and one who I have great trust in – I know every time I read or reread one of her novels that it is going to be great, because her books always are! Her next YA novel is ‘Paper and Fire’, the sequel to ‘Ink and Bone’, comes out in July. I am hugely excited for it, especially because I read a chapter sampler for it that was given out at Rachel Caine’s awesome Liverpool event last week, and it was fantastic and very suspenseful.

Night Study, Maria V. Snyder

  • Night Study, Maria V. SnyderScreen Shot 2016-06-14 at 13.09.58.png

Rating: * * * * *

Series: Chronicles of Ixia #8 (also Study Series #5 and Soulfinders #2)

Publisher: Mira Ink

Publication Date: February 2016 (UK)

Goodreads synopsis: Ever since being kidnapped from the Illiais Jungle as a child, Yelena Zaltana’s has been fraught with peril. But the recent loss of her Soulfinding abilities has endangered her more than ever before. As she desperately searches for a way to reclaim her magic, her enemies are closing in, and neither Ixia nor Sitia are safe for her anymore. Especially since the growing discord between the two countries and the possibility of a war threatens everything Yelena holds dear.

Valek is determined to protect Yelena, but he’s quickly running out of options. The Commander suspects that his loyalties are divided, and he’s been keeping secrets from Valek…secrets that put him, Yelena and all their friends in terrible danger. As they uncover the various layers of the Commander’s mysterious plans, they realize it’s far more sinister that they could have ever imagined.

Shadow Study was one of my favourite books of 2015, and Night Study, the next installment, is just as good, if not better!

One of my favourite aspects of this series is the relationship between the main character, Yelena, and her heart mate Valek. Their relationship is built on mutual respect, trust, admiration and love, and they regard each other as total equals. For me, they are one of the best partnerships in YA, and there are some very emotional and exciting moments between the two of them in this novel.

I also love Yelena’s friendship with Janco and the witty exchanges between the two of them, especially the way that she teases and corrects Janco at times like this:

‘Janco crept from a shadow. “She’s a tough clam to pry open. I’ve a feeling, though, once we do, we’ll find a pearl.”

Pearls form in oysters.”

“Oysters, clams…” He waved dismissively. “It’s all seafood.”‘

Additionally, I really like the speed and familiarity of Yelena’s response to this action of Janco’s:

‘Janco stole a piece of bacon from her plate.

She stabbed him with her fork.

“Owww.”‘

 

In Night Study, there are chapters from Yelena’s, Valek’s and Janco’s POVs, as in the previous novel, but we also hear a new voice – Leif’s. It is fascinating to see more of Leif’s ability to smell certain scents and relate them to different things – for example, whether a person hiding the truth or disclosing it. It is also fun to witness his love of food firsthand!

Night Study has a detailed and very well developed plot line. The many twists and turns, as well as the cliffhangers at the end of chapters, keep you hooked, and the novel sets the scene for an action-packed and emotional finale in Dawn Study.