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WesternSFA
Hunting Daylight
by Piper Maitland
Berkley, $9.99, 553pp
Release Date: February 5, 2013
Horror, sex, love lost, love found, chiropterology – the study of bats – innocence threatened, revenge, and hard choices are some of the themes of this story about vampires and the humans, or half-humans, who love them in this ‘I can be read as a stand-alone’ sequel to Acquainted with the Night. It starts with a gruesome Prologue that provides a context for what follows.

Jude is a vampire, and Caro is his hybrid half-vamp wife, who has fairly well-developed telepathy. They have a young daughter, Vivi, whose talent has not manifested yet, but she is having nightmares. Hybrids develop a psychic gift of some sort as they come into the power of their heritage, and Caro is wondering what Vivi’s will be.

Then Jude is sent by the Al-Din Corporation to Gabon, Africa to study a most peculiar genus of vampire bat, even though previous forays have been, um, less-than-successful would be one way of describing them. Freaking blood-baths would be another, and it wasn’t just the bats’ blood getting shed.

Jude goes missing, and Raphael, a wealthy vampire who is in love with Caro, takes her and Vivi under his wing. Ordinarily, Raphael’s protection would guarantee a half-life of safety and luxury, but they become targets when Al-Din’s agent, Titania Kaskov, takes an unholy interest in the family.

Maitland’s vampires are properly sexy/bad/scary/dangerous, but they are also mainstream enough in the social order that blood is an item you can put on your grocery shopping list if you are in the right place; other times, other places it may be a black-market item, or you may have to go hunting for it.

The females of the species are definitely the major characters in this book: wife/mother/lover Caro, imperiled daughter Vivi, and psychopathic Titania, who makes Heath Ledger’s Joker seem like a pretty nice guy. Titania is a representative of the currently popular archetype of the psychotic bitch vampire, a sort of Durga for the modern era, reveling in mayhem, wallowing in the misery she induces. The menfolk of the story struck me as lacking intestinal fortitude, but I expect most readers will disagree with me on that score.

The conclusion of Hunting Daylight seems to beg for a follow-up; there is a certain dissonance, a pathos, a disconnect that demands resolution, or at least further exploration, rather like the ending of The Empire Strikes Back. Besides, I want to see Vivi come into her own. I expect Hunting Daylight will prove to be Part II of a trilogy. –~~ Chris R. Paige

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