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If Angels Burn: A Novel of the Darkyn    by Lynn Viehl Amazon.com order for
If Angels Burn
by Lynn Viehl
Order:  USA  Can
Signet, 2005 (2005)
Paperback

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* * *   Reviewed by Rashmi Srinivas

To Dr. Alexandra Keller, one of the fastest and best reconstructive surgeons in Chicago, helping people is more important than fame or money. She rejects the millions offered her by a mysterious Frenchman from New Orleans, who insists she come to him to perform his surgery.

So the mystery man has her kidnapped and taken to the Garden District, where she discovers him to be Michael Cyprien, a Darkyn (vampire) whose unnatural powers of healing have left him with a grotesquely disfigured jigsaw puzzle of a tortured body. Curious and compelled, Alex helps him, but soon regrets it. A war is brewing - not just between the Darkyn and the Bretheren, an ancient sect of monks dedicated to eradicating vampires, but also amongst the vampires themselves. Unwittingly, by helping Michael, Alex has become the eye of this cataclysmic storm. The only one who can help her is Michael, himself a vampire.

Fantastic, tension-filled, somewhat gory, and more, please are the phrases that spring to mind after finishing this intense story. It's a refreshing change from other books in the genre for two reasons. One is that Viehl's vampires are dark, violent, bloodthirsty and organized - in contrast to the recent spate of watered-down, romanticized versions. The second and crucial reason is that the author, not content to rely on folklore, goes on a medical, scientific quest (through the character of Dr. Alex Keller) to discover what causes the undead to become so is it a mythical curse or something more pragmatic such as a, pardon the pun, deadly virus?

That Anne Rice inspired Viehl is obvious, even without reading the dedication. This series shows every sign of garnering a strong following and will appeal to those fans who need a kernel of reality in even the most fantastic of stories. A feisty heroine and an ominous hero, together with lots of sexy Frenchmen, breathless action, unrelenting sexual tension, and unnerving suspense, leave readers elated and craving more of the same. Fortunately, this is just the first book in the Darkyn series.

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