Reading Nightwalker by Jacquelyn Frank is a bittersweet experience. It is the finale to a long and fascinating journey that covers three series, several years, many cultures and some truly wonderful characters. It began in 2006 with the story of Jacob and Bella and ends now with last installment in The World of Nightwalkers series.
Because of the epic scope of Nightwalker and my personal journey with all of the Nightwalkers, I'm going to bring up a little bit of history. Many years ago, well, maybe 6 or 7 year ago, I picked up a novel by a new-to-me author. Elijah by Jacquelyn Frank. To me, Elijah was original, fresh, and fascinating. Emphasis on original. When I realized that Elijah was #3 in the series, I circled back to the bookstore for books 1 and 2. Since then I've devoured The Nightwalkers, The Shadowdwellers, and The World of Nightwalkers series as well as several other books by Jacquelyn Frank.
When I started this journey, my book exposure was limited to what was on the shelf. Other than for work, I was not online at all. Now I've broadened my book exposure by shopping online and connecting with other readers and authors online. 6 or 7 years later, I still say that the Nightwalkers series are remain among the most original paranormal romance books that I have read.
What is original about them? That is easy. The paranormal beings. Ms. Frank's treatment of the more commonly fictionalized Demons, Vampires and Lycanthropes is unique. Add Shadowdwellers, Druids, Mistrals, Night Angels, Djinns, Bodywalkers, Phoenixes, Wraiths, and Mysticals to the mix and you have a truly wonderful, complex and creative world. 12 races - did I get them all?
So, as I said before, Nightwalker is the grand finale (sniff). With some trepidation I read it. Finales are often disappointing as it is very difficult to wrap up an epic adventure without being anti-climatic. But if you are a fan of these series, I don't think you will be disappointed. Nightwalker is finely balanced between the reunion with favorite characters from other books, the final showdown with the big bad and the love story of Kamen and Viève.
Viève is a Wraith. Perhaps you have heard that wraiths can kill with a touch and they do so often enough to make them the most hated of the Nightwalker races. However Viève is a half-breed. Her father was human, but she was raised by her mother. She knows only that the Wraiths detest half-breeds. She has lived her life among people that shun her and would prefer she was never born.
Kamen is a Bodywalker, the race that is the focus of The World of Nightwalkers series. The race is split into those that ancient souls share the body they inhabit with the original soul (Body Politic) and those that suppress the original soul (Templars). Kamen comes from the Templars. So right off you know he is not a good guy. But Kamen has come to realize he has done some terrible things, including inadvertently loosing the god Apep into an unprepared world. He truly wants to set things right.
Kamen and Viève play the lead role in attempting to bring the 12 Nightwalker races together. It is believed that they will need all 12 races in order to defeat Apep. So, here we have the formerly evil Kamen uniting with Viève, a representative of the evil Wraiths. Both feel unworthy, either due to past actions or circumstance of birth. Yet they undertake a momentous task. If they fail, Apep's threat to the world will become a reality. This is my favorite part of the book - the fact that the 'unworthy', 'evil' characters play such a key role for the good guys! And by the way, saving earth is not the only thing on their agenda. They tend to sizzle a little when they get together. You know what I mean.
Speaking of characters, Apep is really something else. He has a terrible god-complex. Well, I suppose that is okay, he is a god. But talk about self-centered, egotistical and maniacal. It was actually funny, if disturbing!
Some of my favorites from the previous series are back in Nightwalker: Noah, Jacob, Bella, Sagan, and Kat. Also Ram and Docia, whose story was my favorite in the current series. It is not a re-union of all the former characters. That would just be overdoing it. But the few that are there bring back nice memories. And they each have a role to play in the battle against Apep.
I've said that the originality of these series is what I appreciate about them. However, Ms. Frank's talent as a writer is what kept me coming back for book after book. Her beautiful writing sets her apart from other writers in the paranormal romance genre. I tend to want to read every word, rather than miss a passage of lovely prose. She exquisitely combines action and emotion to create a plot that whisks you away from your own life, if only for a short while.
From my perspective of having read the three related series, it is difficult to imagine what it would be like to read Nightwalker without the benefit of the background I've gotten from the books. I suspect such a reader would feel that something is missing.
However, if you have read all three series, or even just The World of Nightwalkers series, I truly think you will enjoy the ending in Nightwalker. The perfect combination of memories, action, and beautiful romance lead to a satisfying conclusion of this wonderful adventure.
**ARC provided by Publisher**