This review originally appeared 05/26/10 in my meta/review blog.
Death’s Mistress takes place not long after the events of Midnight’s Daughter. Dorina is attempting to cope with being a new “parent,” (quote marks because the adoption process was actually Dorina rescuing Stinky the duerger-brownie from an auction. Also, she doesn’t seem to realize that she’s in a parental role.) She’s also working directly with her father as a result of some familial revelations in the previous book. However, she still doesn’t really trust him for various reasons. (The primary one being that she’s a dhampir, and he’s a vampire.) As far as disability management goes, fey wine appears to be the best bet, despite the continuing flashbacks of other people’s memories she’s receiving.
On a seemingly routine mission of retrieving a vampire for questioning, concerning a smuggling ring, she runs into Louis-Cesare who distracts her, then makes off with her bounty’s head. (Vampires can live for quite some time after decapitation.) This leads to some interesting gross out comedy as Dorina tries to track down the head (with the vampire’s mysteriously animated body in tow) and her not quite boyfriend who it turns out is neck deep in trouble.
It seems his previous girlfriend, a woman he turned into a vampire in order to save her life (or more accurately, her existence) is in danger (well, in even more danger, since she was all ready being held hostage,) and he needs Dorina’s bounty in order to get his ex back.
It also turns out that Mircea wasn’t entirely honest about why he wanted Dorina’s bounty brought in. Apparently, the now headless vampire is connected to the theft/sale of a powerful Faerie artifact. Said artifact is supposed to render the wearer of the artifact invulnerable, and the various congresses want to get their hands on it because vampire politics settled by duels instead of debates more often than not.
Meanwhile, Dorina’s friend Claire turns out to be half-DRAGON (which is a hell of a thing to discover when you’ve just come home from a long, hectic day and your family is crazier than you are.) Claire is back from Faerie with her son in tow, and is in desperate need of Dorina’s help. There have been several attempts on the life of her son, and a powerful rune meant for the heir to the throne has been stolen and is in the mortal world.
Yes, the powerful Faerie artifact and the missing rune are the same object.
Dorina of course agrees to help Claire find the rune stone. This gets her deeply involved with the Faerie politics behind the attempts on the life of Claire’s son. Which in turn gets her completely tangled up in Louis-Cesare’s troubles, and Interesting Things happen, most of them to Dorina.
This was another enjoyable book in the series. It’s a good action-adventure story with an interesting main character and a fast pace. I only have a few quibbles concerning the developing family relationship between Mircea and his daughter. (If you can call a relationship that extends across centuries to be “developing” that is.) There is some good use of unreliable narrator but I also feel that Dorina’s worldview and personality does not match up with the authorial implication that Dorina is what amounts to a rebellious teenager.