Real Vampires Do It in the Dark (Real Vampires Book #2), Amy Fecteau
Rating: 4 Stars
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Tags: Vampires, Violence, Gore, Humour. Some Intimacy.
Length: 342 Pages
After his disownment, Matheus finds himself more confused than ever. He lashes out, losing Quin, the one constant presence in his new life. Alone, penniless, and clueless, Matheus is forced to carve out a new (un)life, amid the chaos of a hidden war. Friends and enemies, old and new, appear with secrets, betrayals, and a surprising revelations.
Matheus will need all the help he can get, because he isn’t the only making new alliances. His father, insane and desperate, joins with Appollonia Parker, one of the creatures he’d sworn to annihilate. Appollonia doesn’t take being crossed lightly, and she sets out to exterminate Matheus and his newfound family.
Matheus must risk it all to protect his loved ones, and save Quin, one way or another…
First of all, I really deliberated hard on whether to read this book. I love Quin and I knew he’d be gone for this instalment. I also knew Alistair and Matheus formed more than a friendship as well, and I wasn’t sure about that because while Alistair was okay, having him as a quasi replacement for Quin was something I considered a tall order.
Book #2 starts immediately after the events of book #1 and the nightmare of Matheus’ father reemerging in all his religious zeal. After Quin’s house is burnt to the ground, their immediate circle becomes scattered. Quin and Matheus are together until they have a particularly acrimonious fight, one where Matheus tells Quin to leave – which Quin does. Matheus wants to find Bianca, his friend from when he was human who has come back into his life recently. Matheus has no clue where Alistair, Juliet, and Milo are either, and he has no money or home. Matheus continues living in a crypt in Hopeside Cemetery where Quin left him, despite hating bugs, but one by one people start popping back into his life. Some for better and some for worse. Eventually they find somewhere to exist outside a, rather ironic, crypt.
This book is primarily about Matheus finding his feet just three months after being turned and claimed by Quin, and without his seventeen-hundred year old Roman vampire there to help. Between hunters chasing them and zealots causing major problems previously, Quin hasn’t shown Matheus much about the otherworld. Besides, Quin’s not much of a teacher, he’s more a baptism by fire kind of vampire. He has a reputation for being rather bloodthirsty and volatile in a world where death is an everyday occurrence, and it’s fairly clear that everyone around Matheus is happier Quin isn’t there.
“Do you know about his maker? Akantha?”
“Some things.” Matheus suspected Quin didn’t go around sharing the details of his time with Akantha willy-nilly.
“Did you know that before he killed her, Quin cut off her limbs and nailed them to the doors of each of the lords of Rome?” asked Eamon.
Matheus had to admit, that did have a certain psychopathic style he associated with Quin.
The ‘lords of the city’ of Kenderton are fragmented. Zeb died in the last book. Grigori has now been murdered by Apollonia’s coven, which means she’s the only ‘lord’ (lady) left in charge. Apollonia is ‘Beverly Sutphin’ on supernatural steroids so naturally things escalate into nasty territory. Especially so when Matheus kills off some of her supporters, saves a few of Grigori’s, and sends another of Apollonia’s minions back to tell her he isn’t going to be taking orders from her. Not now. Not ever. Apollonia may dress like a 1950’s homemaker but she’s not the cutesy, caring type, unless they’re both euphemisms for sadism. She already isn’t keen on Matheus after he insisted Quin get her to release the ”torture twins’ she was holding captive.
Matheus finds himself the inadvertent leader of a ragtag group of vampires, with a few other beings watching on from the sidelines. He loathes being called master or sir, dealing with his own mental yo-yo is enough without others looking to him for advice and leadership. To add to his overall problems, the remainder of Grigori’s coven, the ones who haven’t gone over to Apollonia’s side, pledges itself to him. Matheus is a little self-preservation-lacking at times and leaps into the fray. He also looks out for others without thinking, which makes him appear strong and the likely champion against Apollonia. It doesn’t hurt that he is the “consort” of the “dark one,” meaning Quin, whom everyone fears.
Certain characters from the first book are fleshed out further in this addition. I did appreciate that because there are more than a few critical characters I needed to know more about. New ones are also added and some are given enough depth, while others make up the numbers.
Matheus stopped annoying me less and less to the point where I respected his loyalty to those his dented heart could embrace. I liked him in his new role as the protector of the coven because he automatically never wants to leave anyone behind – uncharacteristic for vampires. I was also glad he embraced the fact that he is gay and not use it as another thing that could make him feel like he disappointed his father even more.
Alistair came into his own. He’s a fantastic character. He was a doctor in WWII and occasionally his voice is sure and steady. Commanding. Sometimes his insecurity is on display, making him bitchy, bitingly sarcastic, and other times vulnerable. Matheus may be the one who people follow, but Alistair is the one with the organisational and people skills. He also loves readily and is looking for someone to love him heart and soul in return, to rescue him – and he’ll freely admit that. Where in the first book he could have scratched Matheus’ eyes out, because Quin claimed him when he never claimed Alistair, he falls for Matheus in this book. I thought Alistair to be sad and humorous all at the same time. Lost, and with the fear of eternity alone staring back at him. He could snap quickly between any and all emotions. I also like that unlike Matheus, Alistair owns who he is and could never be called a prude.
“Alistair!” Matheus spun around, the lock forgotten.
“What?” Alistair waved an airy hand. “Like Joan doesn’t know we had sex? Darling, everyone knows. Get over it.”
But, having added the above quote, there really is no on-page sex. While there is a romance at the heart of this series, the first two books are definitely not MM romance, in spite of the gay primary characters.
There are three women I think are amazing in this series – Juliet is one of them. Matheus finally discovers what she is, who she is. Her lines are brilliant, chilling, comical. I love her use of the word ‘Pet’ for Matheus because it suits her and never appears condescending. It’s just Juliet. Her daughters, especially Lenya, add an intriguing note. Her character is an otherworld counterbalance to Casten Schneider’s dysfunctional real world father figure. Heaven is another great female character. She’s an extremely old soul with immense power but only a few know it. She talks in riddles about the stars and prophecy and possibilities, seems like a 60’s LSD lovechild, but if she puts on her other face, which appears when it is absolutely necessary, you know she’s not to be messed with. It’s because of Heaven that Matheus initially has the leadership status and power. She likes and trusts him.
“Heaven, if we’re not back in three hours, send someone after us.”
“If the stars will it.”
“Right.” Matheus rolled his eyes. “Thanks so much.”
Then there is Joan, mad as a cut snake, batshit crazy Joan. Chainsaw toting Joan. Hardware store items-as-weapons Joan who revels in a good battle, blood, gore, guts, and decapitation. Modern paranormal/UF Joan of Arc Joan who enjoys to verbally and, at times, physically stoush with another vampire, Blanche, who has a touch of the Blanche DuBois’ about her.
I definitely wasn’t fond of Matheus’ step sister, Fletcher, who works with their father in the experimentation on vampires. I know that she’s portrayed as the other victim of their father, but the reality is she’s more of a MacGuffin than anything else. If she wasn’t there, who would Matheus go back into a TSTL moment for? How could some of the characters disappear then come back all bedraggled after looking after her? Quin had already had his moment of rescue by Matheus so Fletcher came in handy. Because she was a plot device, I found her to be annoyingly wishy-washy.
Meanwhile, Matheus is dealing with his usual existential moments, when not, he’s busy fighting another battle with old and new foes – more crossbows make an appearance or two, and a few swords round that out. He’s trying to keep everyone under his care safe, and while he cringes at being the leader of this coven, being in charge of so many undead, he has no choice. He is also waking up earlier and earlier and it appears there is more than vampire-from-human to Matheus. He’s also embracing the need to kill more readily as the months pass.
Matheus misses Quin but he has an internalised struggle with his feelings because of years of conditioning by his father. Alistair helps a great deal, but after a while it becomes apparent there is a reason why Quin is continuing to stay away. Why there is a daze or a nothingness to the companion bond for Matheus starts to make some sense. This has him determined to find Quin, which means Alistair is cast aside as a lover. Again.
“I’d leave him to rot,” said Alistair.
Matheus jerked up his head. “You would not.”
“I would,” said Alistair with a definite nod. “Quin would do the same to me. Not to you. You’re special.”
Matheus winced. “Right.” He returned to the comforting support of sarcasm. “I’m a unique and beautiful snowflake.”
“And I’m just dime store tinsel.”
“I didn’t say that.”
“No. I did.” Alistair gnawed on his lower lip, gaze fixed somewhere in the distance.
When Quin comes back at the end he isn’t the Quin Matheus knows… and then this book ends on a huge cliffhanger. Luckily for me book #3 was ready and available as I’ve been late to the party for this series.
My issues predominantly revolve around the editing once more – line and content. There are missing words, some weird things like a / during a sentence, and the book could have been trimmed down. I enjoyed the banter, but it can grate after extended periods, and the action isn’t as well paced as it could be. The physical world building isn’t much chop either, however the characters are given priority. This series is narrated solely from Matheus’ POV and I wish it was a two person perspective, but I can see why the author chose this route, especially with Quin MIA in this book. I’ve already noted these things in my review of book #1.
In the End:
Real Vampires Do It in the Dark is an interesting second book, one I wasn’t sure would work without Quin, but, hey, I’m happy to say I was wrong. Did I miss Quin? Yes. He’s a fantastic character, full of dry wit, sarcasm, general malevolence and psychopathy, plus moments of really deep devotion to one being, Matheus. In spite of this, and much like Matheus, the other characters and the action gave me plenty to engage with in Quin’s absence. I was fulfilled to a certain degree, but, also like Matheus, I wanted Quin back. After that ending I immediately one-clicked book #3. A recommended series for readers who like a grittier, bloodier paranormal and UF, with a subplot of (gay) romance, laced with violence, humour, and vampiric intensity and connection. 4 Stars.
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