Review: “Dayhunter” By Jocelynn Drake (Novel)

Well, after reading Jocelynn Drake’s excellent “Nightwalker“, I wanted to read more novels from the “Dark Days” series. And, although I’d only planned to order the next two books, I later ended up ordering second-hand copies of the whole series.

But, although I currently plan to review other novels in between reviewing these vampire novels, I was eager to review the second novel in the series – a novel from 2009 called “Dayhunter”.

Although it is probably theoretically possible to read “Dayhunter” as a stand-alone novel (since it contains recaps of the events of “Nightwalker”), you’ll get a lot more out of the story and characters if you read “Nightwalker” first. This novel is very much a sequel to “Nightwalker” (and part of a larger continuous story), rather than a separate story.

Anyway, let’s take a look at “Dayhunter”. Needless to say, this review will contain some SPOILERS.

This is the 2009 Eos (US) paperback edition of “Dayhunter” that I read.

“Dayhunter” begins a few minutes after the ending of “Nightwalker”. Mira, Tristan and Danaus are travelling through the streets of London – battered and bruised from their encounter with the nefarious Naturi. However, once they find shelter in an alleyway, they are mysteriously attacked by a witch, a werewolf and a human. Even in their weakened state, the intrepid trio put up a good fight and soon prevail.

But, before they can work out why they were attacked, they remember that they have been summoned to Venice in order to meet the vampire coven. Of course, as soon as they set foot in that ancient city, they soon realise that they’ve stepped out of the frying pan and into the fire….

One of the first things that I will say about “Dayhunter” is that it is slightly different to “Nightwalker”. If “Nightwalker” was an frenetic feast of fast-paced action, then “Dayhunter” is a little bit more like a cross between a gothic horror novel, a political thriller and a character-based drama.

It’s still really compelling, but it tells a slightly different type of story. It’s more like watching a few episodes of a well-written TV show than watching a spectacular Hollywood movie, if this makes sense.

Still, whilst this novel places slightly less emphasis on action than “Nightwalker” did, it more than makes up for this with suspense, atmosphere and intrigue. The cut-throat politics of the vampire coven are fairly intriguing and they really help to add a lot of tension and horror to the story.

In addition to this, these parts of the novel also allow for a lot of character development too as we see the main characters torn between compromising and upholding their principles when faced with plots, machinations and unforeseen events.

The horror elements in “Dayhunter” work reasonably well too. Whilst the novel contains slightly less in the way of grisly, violent, blood-soaked horror (although it certainly has it’s moments), this is replaced with a more suspenseful, tragic and gothic style of horror. Not only are the main characters in a city filled with those who want them dead or want to use them as tools, but Mira also has to grapple with the tragic pain of her past too. The horror in this novel is a bit more subtle, but it lingers constantly in the background.

Another cool thing about “Dayhunter” is that it fills out a lot of stuff that is only briefly mentioned in “Nightwalker”. We get to meet characters who are only mentioned in “Nightwalker” (eg: Macaire etc..) and we also not only learn more about the world and mythology of the series, but also a bit more about some of the characters (eg: exactly why Danaus has magical powers etc..) too. It’s a very slightly deeper, slower and more contemplative novel that contrasts really well with the high-octane action of “Nightwalker”.

Like with “Nightwalker”, this novel also tells a fairly satisfying story that is also part of a much larger story. Once again, there is some sense of resolution when the story ends but it is also left very clear that there are many more things for the characters to do and much more of the story still to be told.

The writing and narration in “Dayhunter” is pretty good too. Whilst the novel’s first-person narration is fairly similar to the narration in “Nightwalker”, it feels almost subliminally more focused, sharp and efficient (although this could just be because I’ve got used to Drake’s writing style, or because I’d just read “The Diamond Age” by Neal Stephenson and, after grappling with the narration in that novel, even more gothic narration seemed very direct, efficient and fast-paced by contrast).

Still, the narration here works really well and it helps to keep the story moving at a fairly decent pace, whilst also adding to the dangerous, suspenseful atmosphere of the story too.

All in all, “Dayhunter” is a really good horror/fantasy/gothic thriller novel. Whilst it dials back the frenetic action slightly, it more than makes up with this through lots of characterisation, suspense and atmosphere. As I mentioned earlier, reading this novel is like watching a few episodes of a well-written TV show. It’s reasonably gripping, it’s suitably gothic and it also helps to flesh out the mythology of the series too.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get a four.