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Carpe Corpus (Morganville Vampires, Book 6) by Rachel Caine
Review by Drew Bittner
Signet Mass Market Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451227195
Date: 02 June 2009 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Claire Danvers never thought things could get this bad. The vampire clique ruling her hometown of Morganville has been overthrown by a monstrous sadist named Bishop. Claire and her boyfriend Shane, betrayed by the mad alchemist Myrnin (who is also Claire's boss), are separated; Shane is to be executed and Claire is enslaved to Bishop's will by a magic tattoo. Now she is his errand girl and the town--including her closest friends--hates and fears her.

Claire has no idea how much worse things can get.

In Carpe Corpus, the sixth volume of the Morganville Vampires series, Rachel Caine amps up the intensity to all-new levels. With the town under the thumb of Bishop and his minions, Claire and her friends can only watch as things get worse by the day. What becomes clear quickly is that Bishop is not interested in ruling Morganville; he wants only death and destruction.

Unfortunately, armed with the powers of Myrnin's book full of secrets, he can achieve his goals with terrifying ease. The only ones who stand in his way are Claire and a handful of rebels. The problem is, who can be trusted? In these dangerous new days, even friends may be unsuspected enemies... and vice versa.

Claire starts the story with a birthday party--a truly grim event, as her boyfriend is set to be executed and all of her friends consider her a traitor. She sets out to see Shane, but is compelled to deliver a death warrant to a close friend first. Not long after, she finds reason to distrust her own assumptions, as forces move to protect those in greatest danger from Bishop's capricious evil.

Along the way, Claire is forced to make difficult choices and enter into perilous alliances, including ones with an erratic entity who exercises uncanny power over Morganville and a shadowy rebel force with its own agenda. Only a very unorthodox strategy has a chance of winning against Bishop--and when Claire finally realizes the true stakes, and some stunning secrets behind the creation of Morganville, she knows that this last battle will be winner take all.

Caine delivers high octane adventure and excitement in this sixth volume, paying off some long-standing plot threads and delivering a powerful climax to the story thus far. If this is meant to be a series-closer, it could hardly hope to deliver more; the emotional beats are strong and the twists are surprising. One thing is for certain--if the series does continue, this marks the beginning of a very different status quo.

The characters all receive their moment to shine, from Shane's unexpected deliverance (c'mon, you knew it was coming) to the final fate of a beloved supporting character. They have rich emotional lives and the highs and lows feel stronger because of it. Even minor characters, such as a vampire family on the verge of a hasty exodus, feel satisfyingly real. Yet nobody is safe; there are some unexpected (and unexpectedly poignant) deaths.

Likewise, Morganville itself takes on significance as a setting that is more than just a small town on the Texas plains. Some horrifying things are set to occur here, and even in our YouTube/Facebook age, some evils can go unpunished and even unobserved. Caine makes the reader feel the isolation of those in Morganville, who exist under the unsleeping eyes of the vampires, and how years of oppression can curdle into seething hatred.

Fans of Caine's Weather Warden series will find this a very different sort of story indeed. Claire and her friends, some of them vampires but most of them unconventional teenagers or family members, will not be easily forgotten. Those who enjoy what we might call "suburban fantasy" may find this sixth volume of the Morganville Vampires very much to their taste.


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