Title: Midnight Alley
Author: Rachel Caine
Genre: supernatural/paranormal, young-adult
Series: The Morganville Vampires #3
Pages: 384 (paper back version)
Published: September 2008
Another book, another drama-filled episode in the vampire-filled life of still sixteen year-old Claire Danvers. Though "used" to the relatively normal danger of the town, Claire has new issues and problems to wrestle with; namely the fact she recently signed over her soul for protection from the local vampire
mobboss leader, Amelie. Just like the first two Glass Houses and Dead Girls' Dance, it's ridiculously easy to get sucked into these books. They're far from perfect (why are all the victims in any and EVERY crime young females? Does Morganville have no old people for easy prey?) but they are pure vampire entertainment. Pitch-perfect in tone with the previous novels, Midnight Alley is a fun read from start to end. Claire, though not my favorite, serves as a reliably likable and smart protagonist. I certainly don't mind reading her usually, though I occasionally wish for a narrative change for these books. I think a rotating perspective would also do a lot to fill in the ignoredgrey aspects of the setting/characters/atmosphere at present. I will I liked this the most out of the series thus far; neither side was painted as black and white as previous and much more detail was given about the vampires themselves.
Unlike the previous two novels which focused more on Claire and then Claire and Shane, more information about best-friend stock character Eve is given. Her eventual road to the Glass House, Michael and Shane adds a third dimension to a previously and sadly flat character with potential to be badass. Like the others she has a complicated past and undisclosed family issues but hers are not redundant of past themes. Claire's family might represent the over-protected/over-involved stereotype of parenting, but Eve's familial dysfunction is of an entirely different theme. Claire sadly failed to engage me as much in this one - her absolute stubborn refusal of magic when it is staring her (REPEATEDLY) in the face is frustrating. What does she think is animating dead bodies for hundreds of years? For a highly logical young woman, it felt forced. New and interesting characters are introduced as well. For once, a sympathetic (not counting the rarely seen Sam) vampire character is shown, that of Myrnin the brilliant and reclusive alchemist. He adds danger, humour, spontaneity, and sexiness to any scene he shares with the main characters. Shane, one of my favorites though in desperate need of a reality check and slap occasionally, also shows some emotional growth in regards to his blatant prejudices and preconceptions.
Additionally, with this third novel a larger, much more intricate framework is emerging from the seemingly repetitive story-lines of each. In the first Glass Houses, the main struggle was between two vampiric forces waging a war over knowledge - the knowledge of how to create new vampires. In the second novel Dead Girls' Dance, a relatively new vampire of 70 years is revealed as the last vampire successfully made (until Michael in this same novel) as is the knowledge that only Amelie can create new vampires. In this most recent, Myrnin the Mystic (ha) states that his race is dying out. Seen at a larger view of the previous themes and ideas of the first two, I can admit I think I may have underestimated this author. I passed off the first two as fun but generic, and while still far from perfect, these books have a deeper meaning and theme than I first ascribed to them. Reading the story of a species determined to survive when they have, at large, lost the ability to procreate is gripping. Forced into an unwilling us-versus-them standoff with the human population, both the vampires and the humans rely on Claire, Michael, and even Eve and Shane as go-betweens and each play crucial yet believable roles in each resolution.