Fall of Night and Daylighters are Books #14 & #15 in Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampires series. This is the longest-running book series I have ever followed. Well, that’s not exactly true. Let me amend that a smidge; this is the longest-running book series I have followed since my Babysitter’s Club & Babysitter’s Little Sister days.
Allow me to explain how I got roped in to Ms. Caine’s world: it started out innocuously enough. I had just graduated from college, and I’d finished Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series — twice. I know, I know. The shame. The horror. In my defense, I was a serious Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan and was really feeling the lack of vampire-related pop-culture since the show’s end in 2003. Stephenie was the first to bring it back (for which I will forever be grateful, despite all of her other faults). And I had recently gone through a break-up and was really feeling that crying by myself on the forest floor act that Bella so perfectly modeled. (Thank God I’m a rabbit and rabbits mask their pain well; to the casual observer, I looked far less like a wreck and far more like a bunny just hanging out in her natural habitat). Then, after the success of Twilight, the vampire market EXPLODED. Suddenly, I didn’t have to content myself with whatever crap was available, because there were hoards of books to choose from. I stumbled upon Glass Houses, Book #1 of The Morganville Vampire series, which was published in 2006 (a year after Twilight) and Oh. My. God. IT WAS SO MUCH BETTER.
Bella Swan, despite having the same initials, was a terrible substitute for Buffy Summers. Buffy was a kick-ass, independent, strong, powerful woman. She was passionate, but she knew that her emotions gave her power. She turned her feminine ability to feel – deeply – into an asset; she didn’t allow that to become a weakness. She formed a community around her, full of people who loved her. And she deserved their love. She knew how to use a crossbow, a battle axe, a rocket launcher, and chop a wooden table to pieces in order to use one of its legs as an impromptu stake. When the love of her life left her, she couldn’t fall to pieces. She had to muster up enough strength to save the world from (yet another) apocalypse. There was no crying alone on the forest floor for her.
Claire Danvers, Morganville‘s protagonist, is a much better substitute. And she would be. Rachel Caine’s a known Buffy fan. There are even a few blatant shout-outs to the series in her books.
Claire’s a science nerd who graduates high school early, eager to start college courses in Chemistry and Physics. She’s small but strong. She loves intensely and is fiercely loyal. She becomes learnéd in alchemy, as well as the straight sciences, and she learned how to wield a bow & arrow years before Katniss was a gleam in Suzanne Collins’ eye.
Anyway, I started reading the Morganville books back in 2008 and have been at it ever since. I’ve developed a groove. I read them in much the same manner every time one is published. I enjoy them – and probably mock them to an equal degree. They’re pretty heavy on the romance side of paranormal romance (though they’re just as heavy in their treatment of the paranormal; vampires don’t glitter. They’re calculating, cold, manipulative, and dangerous. They’re expert killers and tacticians who would make Angelus proud). But, I dig the romance. It’s not all about the character’s staring into one another’s eyes; they push each other against walls and into bed and don’t shy away from carnal heat. The biggest thing I mock, though, are the pop-culture references. While I’m endlessly happy about the Buffy ones, I do acknowledge that they’re dated. Buffy’s been off-the-air for ten years now. The other references date the text just as much. Even if they were current when she started writing, now, seven years later, they’re no longer relevant. And they certainly won’t be relevant ten years from now. In a decade, no one’s going to know what Spongebob Squarepants is – but for some reason, Caine felt the need to include it. Details could’ve been kept out and the text would’ve felt just as – if not more – fresh.
So I was going along, reading Fall of Night, Book #14, minding my own business, judging Caine’s mention of Claire’s Skechers sneakers, when I was sidelined by a shocking piece of information. Sometimes, when I’m reading, I get distracted. I get up and start clicking on my e-mail, clicking on Facebook, looking up things that whatever I was reading reminded me of. And that’s what I was doing. Her mention of Skechers sneakers (no one wears Skechers anymore! At least get the poor girl a pair of Converse; they’re timeless!) reminded me of the scene from Sex & the City when Carrie & Berger get in a fight about Scrunchies. So I watched that.
Then, I figured I’d look up the title of the next book in the series, which I knew was already out; I could get it at work the next day – when I stumbled across a review of Book #14, saying that Fall of Night was the “penultimate” book in the series.
Penultimate. Penultimate. Penultimate. That means “next to last.” Penultimate. Shit.
Guys, it’s true. Daylighters is the last Morganville Vampires book. I can only be thankful that I learned that fact in time to appreciate the last book as exactly that — the last book. At first I thought maybe I should stop mocking the series and just enjoy it. But that wouldn’t have been true to myself, my process, the last five years of my life, or the books.
So I finished up Fall of Night (which was a fine book, but it doesn’t finish a lot of the story lines that it starts – so you really do need to read Daylighters right after it, if possible). And then I started Daylighters.
I took my time with it. I read it in two days instead of one.
And it ends in just the right way. With a bunch of violence, followed by a bunch of sweetness. I feel happy — and sad. It’s the end of an era. Most of all, I just know that I’m going to miss Myrnin. More than words can say.
Here’s to vampire bunny slippers, hawaiian shirts, silk breeches, elegant bows, madness, brief glimpses of sanity, unerring faithfulness, stolen moments, and spiders named Bob.
Morganville, I will miss you.
Pooka Rating for Fall of Night: 3 out of 5 Nibbles.
Pooka Rating for Daylighters: 4 out of 5 Nibbles.
Pooka Rating for The Morganville Vampires series: 5 out of 5 Nibbles.
(I know that’s not perfect math. The numbers may be skewed… slightly. I’m already feeling nostalgic, and therefore overly generous).
P.S. Morganville Vampires is being turned into a web tv series and the project is currently in the pre-production phase. Don’t forget to follow it on Facebook or Twitter to stay updated. I’m not quite ready to let these characters go yet. Perhaps watching the show will help to ease the pain. The last thing I want to do is end up back on that forest floor…