Dark Celebration by Christine Feehan. Review by Violet Kane

Book Cover

In Print
My first experiment in reading romantic fantasy wasn't very successful, but in the interest of fairness I decided to try reading a book by an author who has made her career on writing fantasy-style romances (rather than romance writers who have dabbled in fantasy). Christine Feehan was the natural place to start.

Dark Celebration may not have been the best of her books to start with. Then again, it may be one of the most telling. Dark Celebration is part of her larger Carpathian series. As it begins, the Carpathian community is planning its first Christmas celebration. Why? Well, a little background is in order. Carpathians are a shape-shifting fantasy race that is largely an invention of Feehan's. Over the years (and presumably over the course of Feehan's books) the Carpathian males have discovered that not only can they mate with human females, but they can also change these humans into Carpathians over time. Perhaps this should be "mate" with a capital "M"—one important feature of the Carpathian race is that they mate for life and often know who their life-mate will be from an early age. And so, the introduction of human women into their fold has brought human sensibilities as well as hope for a dying population... however, just as the plans for the Christmas celebration are coming together, the Carpathians and their mates uncover a plot by their vampire enemies to attack where they are most vulnerable—that is, to strike at the women and children necessary to the survival of their race.

Book Cover

On Audio
If you're not already picking out the typical romance themes, let me point some out. The fact that "soul-mate-hood" is a codified part of the magic in this fantasy world should be the first thing to come out and grab you. The Christmas celebration with its emphasis on home and family should be a second indicator. No other reader than a romance reader would find it at all character-enhancing to have the tough, immortal, devilishly handsome Carpathian males arguing over who will have the indignity of dressing up as Santa Claus. Furthermore, this novel illustrates what happens in the case of series romance (it was inevitable after all that fantasy romances would lead to series of books). While there's not a main couple struggling with their attraction for each other at the center of this novel, there's the perhaps inevitable consequence of series romance... the re-visitation of established couples. This novel is basically a tour of Carpathian couples (presumably the central couples of earlier Feehan novels) who are both happily married and having hot sex.

This novel is basically a soap opera in written form. And not the good kind of soap opera, but the predictable, tired kind. Only a romance reader would want to read a story that combined dangerous fantasy races with cuddly family time.


Violet "Violanthe" Kane is the Webmaster and Founder of ARWZ.com. She is an editor of ARWZ Literary Zine and is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Medieval studies.