Sunday, October 24, 2010

Midnight Alley: The Morganville Vampires, Book Three by Rachel Caine

Claire Danvers is an extremely intelligent girl stuck in the third-rate college known as Prairie University in the town of Morganville, Unbeknownst to anyone outside of town, Morganville is also where most of the vampires in the world live and for a very good reason. These vampires are sick and dying, with some sort of blood-bourne illness that makes them weak and unable to reproduce when they wish to. Amelie, the founder of the town, is having a very smart vampire named Myrnin research a cure to the vampire disease, but he isn't making much headway.

Myrnin, it seems, has other problems besides the disease that is afflicting most of the vampires: he's crazy, suffering all sorts of episodes where he turns paranoid, murderous, and delusional. And with Claire being so smart, and now that she is under the personal protection of Amelie, Amelie has assigned her to try and help Myrnin with finding a cure. That is, if Myrnin doesn't kill her first. Bur can Claire survive the tutelage of a vampire that often doesn't remember who she is, or treats her as a snack? And even if she can keep him on an even emotional keel and working on the cure, can she learn enough of magic to understand what Myrnin is working on enough to help him?

Working for Amelie is a mixed bag. While Claire is now safe from Monica Morrell and the Monickettes, who are actually sucking up to her and trying to be nice to her (which makes Claire nervous and unhappy, always suspecting a slap rather than a stroke from their outstretched hands), her roommates are much less happy with Claire's new protector. They view it as her having made a deal with the Devil, and none of them seem to trust her any more at all, least of all Eve, Claire's former BFF.

Not only that, but the underground newspaper written by "Captain Obvious" has outed Michael as the newest vampire in town, and Eve's psychotic brother is back and on the loose in town. And when a dead girl's body is thrown through the window in Glass House, Shane is fingered for the killing. But who really killed the girl, and can Claire and Eve discover the truth in time to keep Shane from being killed for the crime?

Meanwhile, a new threat to town, Bishop, the man who made Amelie a vampire in the first place, but refused to join his daughter in blood has come to town, and he doesn't have the disease that the vampires in town are prey to. So when he announces his intention to take over the town, it's a disaster, because his views on how vampires should treat the humans there are very different from Amelie's, and she might not be strong enough to prevent him from prevailing in their conflict. But is there hope for Claire and Myrnin to find a cure in time?

This book series derives a lot from cliffhanger endings. Every book ends on some sort of cliffhanger, and in peril seems to be the kind of default that Morganville is based on. Events happen so quickly and so much happens that often, not a lot of character growth and development goes on during the course of the book. But that's okay, because the time frame of the novel seems to happen within only a few weeks of time, and character growth takes more time than that. And also, the novels in this series come out every few months rather than having to wait a year between books, which also makes it easier to bear the waiting.

With each book, we learn a little more of what makes Morganville tick, and some of the secrets hidden in the town, like how the town manages to survive with an entire college based within it. Something has created a barrier around the town, and if you do manage to find out about the vampires, the minute you cross that barrier, you forget. And if you don't forget, the vampires will find out and send an elimination squad after you. But most of the novels are really based around Claire and her outsider's reaction to how Morganville is set up and what makes it tick. Claire is slowly being drawn into the center of the Web that is Morganville, and while it allows her to find out more, it also puts her in terrible danger from those vampires who may not want to be beholden to a human.

I love this series, and the episodic nature of it is not a turn-off to me, nor the cliffhanger endings or the almost miniscule amount of character development when charted against how much time passes in each book. This series is completely addicting, and I'm glad to keep getting my fix with each new book and each new story and secret revealed. Wonderful and scary and charming all at once. Highly recommended.

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