Friday, 21 December 2012

Review: Daughter of Light by Virginia Andrews

From the moment I finished Daughter of Light, I knew one simple truth. Reviewing this novel was going to be hell. 

As a reader, I'm pretty black and white. I know what I like and I know what I don't like. I know what constitutes as good writing and what doesn't. As a reviewer, I like to add my emotional reaction into the mix to create what I hope is not only an honest, but a unique book review. Consequently, reviewing a novel that contained a mix of good and bad writing, as many convincing plot twists as there were plot holes and that fantastic lead up to a disappointing climax, was always going to be difficult. And then there was the fact that ghostwriter Andrew Neiderman inserted a couple of "No worries" into Lorelei's dialogue. 

How can I possibly hate or give a damning review to an American novel that uses "No worries" in its proper context?

On the other hand, how can I possibly love a book that has the name of a much-loved and long-dead author on the front, whose work has now been reduced to a franchise and the latest releases bare nothing of her unique vision?

So maybe I'll just be honest in my review, and let you decide whether or not it is a good book.

Daughter of Light is the second novel in the Kindred series and vastly superior to its prequel, Daughter of Darkness. To recap Daughter of Darkness is a pretty sick and twisted novel about a young woman who discovers that she and her sisters have been bred for the specific purpose of luring bait (think virile young men,) to their bad, vampire Daddy, Sergio Patio. Once his daughters grow too old for the task, old Sergio marries his own daughters and expects them to produce more live bait, I mean daughters who'll trap some food for him and then marry him when they get too old and produce more babies and ugh ... I'm sure you get the idea. When the heroine of the novel, young Lorelei Patio discovers her fathers plans for her, she is disgusted and runs away.

Daughter of Light tells the story of Lorelei's attempts to make it on her own. Ghostwriter Andrew Neiderman has made some attempts to address the many problems with the first novel, and explain some of the plot holes, such as why Lorelei would simply ditch her boyfriend at the end of Daughter of Darkness. (She feared that he knew too much and that his association with her would make him a target for her father.) Annoying younger sister Marla is pleasingly removed from the plot, and bossy older sister Ava remains a minor character. Instead, this novel focuses on Lorelei trying to make a life for herself away from her vampire family. Naturally, this life means falling in love with a wealthy and now-reformed womanizer named Liam, from who she hides her history. Liam wants to marry her, Lorelei fears that her father and Ava are watching her, a young male resident from the town goes missing, Lorelei's fears grow and ...

Well, I was looking forward to a shocking, action packed and possibly even violent ending, anyway. I was half expecting that perhaps, one, we would find out what did happen to Buddy when Sergio did catch up with him, and two, what would happen when Liam discovered that his fiancee is the daughter of a vampire? Perhaps Sergio and Ava would even abduct Liam as a way of luring Lorelei back to the family home? Perhaps Lorelei would even plot and find a way to put an end to Sergio's evil once and for all. Stake in the heart, anyone?

Nope. 

In an ending that is just as disappointing as that of Breaking Dawn where the characters talk their problems out, Lorelei simply strikes a deal with Sergio that will grant her freedom. She can marry Liam and become human, on the condition that if her firstborn is a girl, she will be handed over to Sergio to raise, use as bait and then procreate with. Surprisingly, Lorelei (who I considered up until then to be fairly intelligent,) agrees to this. But then, fortunately, her firstborn is a boy, Sergio buggers off to Europe and Liam never discovers that his wife was once a vampire. And they all live happily ever after, but for a woman in Norfolk Virginia who continued to spin in her grave ...

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