Although CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT (1990), by Mercedes Lackey, is the second novel, in publishing order, that stars pagan witch and Guardian Diana Tregarde, it falls chronologically before the first-published book, BURNING WATER. In CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT, Diana faces not one but three kinds of vampires. In this story she is very young, only a few years out of college. She hasn’t yet achieved the mastery of her powers she displays in BURNING WATER. She writes romances, suffers panic attacks as aftereffects of her near death at the talons of a creature called a Nightflyer, and as far as possible tries to avoid the evil entities from which it’s her destiny to protect the innocent and oblivious mundanes. That past battle taught her she couldn’t ignore the dark forces because, drawn to her power, they would attack her anyway, but she has barely reconciled herself to that truth. At the beginning of the novel she is temporarily managing an occult supply shop to help out a pregnant friend.
When a Gypsy boy runs into the shop seeking refuge from a predator, Diana gives him her card, offering him help if he needs it in the future. After the boy escapes out the back, Andre LeBrel, a charming “good guy” vampire who serves as protector of the local Gypsy tribe, comes in asking about a sinister man who’s after the boy. Andre has most of the traits of the traditional vampire as modified by recent fiction and film (sunlight can kill him, and he needs his native soil, which he keeps handy in a hollow bracelet) but not all (garlic and religious objects don’t hurt him). Meanwhile, a rock band, Children of the Night, which includes Diana’s ex-boyfriend Dave, gets turned into a pack of psychic vampires under the patronage of “Master Jeffries,” the Gypsy boy’s pursuer. Dave becomes disgusted by feeding on fear and death but can’t break away. Jeffries has as an ally the third species of vampire, a gaki, a soul-sucking creature from Japanese myth. Diana gets irrevocably drawn in when she finds the Gypsy boy dead with his soul drained away. Catching a glimpse of Andre bending over the corpse, she recognizes his vampiric nature and suspects him of being the attacker.
When, near death from injuries and sunlight, he seeks sanctuary in her apartment, she learns the truth about him. They join forces against the psivamps and the gaki.
Andre has a erotic allure reminiscent of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s Count Saint-Germain, but with a lighter touch. He and Diana quickly become friends and lovers as well as allies. He teaches her to resist the panic attacks and channel their energy into strengthening her psychic shields. With help from two of Diana’s neighbors to whom she has given occult aid in the past, they take the battle to the villains. I found Andre delightful and Diana a very sympathetic character. Also, any author can appreciate her struggle with the category romance about pirates and a fluff-headed heroine she writes in the lulls between fighting supernatural predators.
Margaret L. CarterCarter's Crypt