Science fiction and fantasy


by Barb and J. C. Hendee


When we first meet Magiere she is dressed in studded leather armour, hunting vampires, talking tough and looking hard as steel. She's at least as merciless to the desperate villagers who pay her to rid them of vampires as she is against the undead, demanding every last penny that they have.

But Magiere is not the hardened warrior she appears to be. With her partner, the half-elf Leesil, she is ready to retire from hunting in order to open up a tavern. Unfortunately her last job led to an unexpected death, which brings Magiere's party the unwelcome attention of a group of vampires.

Rashed, Teesha and Ratboy are all Noble Dead, but each is very different from the others. Rashed is a warrior: strong, reserved and imposing. Whilst Teesha is gentle and petite, and Ratboy cultivates the "grubby pickpocket" look. As we learn about their history it's clear that they are victims as much as villains, created against their will and in search of peace and privacy.

The vampires of this world adhere to many of the usual conventions. They are unable to tolerate daylight or garlic, heal quickly, can be created by a sire, have retractable fangs and so forth. There are no crosses for them to cringe from in this world, but aside from that this is fairly familiar territory.

Edwan is Teesha's spectral husband, a decapitated ghost who is jealous of her affections. Edwan and Rashed will fight to protect Teesha and preserve the life they have built in the fishing town of Miiska. When Magiere moves in and begins investigating the death of a young woman, they are convinced that they must kill Magiere before she destroys them.

This is a well-crafted story with plenty of action, humour, and just a hint of romance to come. In Dhampir, Magiere doesn't know what she is, and she comes to discover more about herself as the story progresses. Meanwhile Leesil has a secret of his own to keep, and he's not so keen to revisit his past and learn more about his true self. But much as the two of them may want to deny certain truths about themselves, circumstances conspire to uncover these things.

Both Leesil and Magiere have an abrupt change of heart and direction early on in the book. This seems strange at first, but it all ties in with a theme that features heavily in Dhampir, that of belonging somewhere.

Neither vampire slayers nor this type of fantasy world is particularly new territory. Dhampir escapes from the formulaic by being thoroughly entertaining, engaging us with believable and likeable characters and introducing villains who have shades of character that go beyond the obvious. The plot has a few subtle twists, and the book is filled with characters who have their own hidden agendas and reasons for manipulating other people. This is an enjoyable read which promises some interesting sequels.

Book Details

Year of release: 2003

Categories: Books
Female Protagonist

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4 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson

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