Book Review

Dark Prince: Uncut Edition by Christine Feehan

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Title: Dark Prince: Author's Cut Special Edition
Author: Christine Feehan
Publication Info: William Morrow 2011
ISBN: 9780062009623
Genre: Paranormal

Book CoverRecently, I was sent a giant hardcover book. A book I had already read. And I read it. AGAIN.

I am as amazed as you.

Such is the power of the crack, and specifically the crack that is Dark Prince. I’ve written before about the Carpathian series, which I gobbled until I began to see the “psychic chick makes dude see color commence doggy style” pattern and had to stop. Dark Prince, however, rocked my world when I read it, and when people talk about Christine Feehan as the author whose work established the paranormal vampire romance genre, I nod and agree.

The edition that arrived (THUNK) on my doorstep is bigger than the original edition. Touted as an “Author’s Cut”, it has 100 extra pages of material, and that frilly deckled pages thing, and new cover art. And it’s a hardback. So it’s huger than big – or, at least, bigger than I’m used to (snort).

Ahoy, plot summary, if you’ve never read the first of the Carpathian series: Mikhail Dubrinsky is on the verge of ending is very, very long existence when he is contacted telepathically by a human woman, Raven, who reached out to him because she could psychically sense his misery from across town. Those Carpathians, they do everything big, if you know what I mean (and I think you do). Mikhail goes to find Raven, who has journeyed to the Carpathian mountains to hide and recover from her last job assignment as a psychic who specializes in tracking serial killers. When Mikhail first encounters Raven, he sees in color for the first time in hundreds of years, a signal that she is his lifemate – and he’s completely confused and alarmed by the fact that she’s human, not Carpathian. Add to that some vampire hunters in town for some vacation hunting, and some locals spreading rumors, and there’s a lot of tension to unfold between and around Mikhail and Raven.

The first question you’d probably ask is, is it worth buying if I already own the previous version? If you’re asking the question at all, you’re probably not the type of fan who will buy it without question, for such is your devotion to all things Feehan (and if you’re that type of fan, more power to you. Go on with your bad self). I would have to say, in a nutshell, no, the extra pages didn’t add much to the book for me, though I couldn’t have told you which scenes were added. I read Dark Prince (The Original not the Uncut Version) (Bwahahahaha – are Carpathians circumcised? Not in the Uncut version!) (Actually, as hundred-plus-year-old European males, they probably aren’t.)(This is too many parentheses. Sorry) so long ago that I couldn’t have identified the extra scenes if you held a colorblind blood-sustained otherworldly creature to my head. But I can say there were details and scenes that dragged 3/4ths of the way through, to the point that I skimmed until the final chapters.

But even with the draggy part and the doggy style part, I couldn’t stop reading. This is a Book That Contains The Crack. Seriously. I couldn’t put the damn thing down. I was toting this big hardcover around the house and reading a few pages every few minutes I could. Why? I was both transfixed by the storyline, and curious about why the characters and the plot worked for me, even as they irked the shit out of me.

Case in point: The heroine, Raven, is immediately identified by Mikhail as his lifemate, and he makes a few ill-advised decisions that affect her greatly (in a mortal sense, even) without her consent. He Knows Best. The plot follows the traditional alpha-male “release everything, let go of your old life, I know best, also you’re hot, nom nom can’t control myself, whoops you’re all vampy now, too, isn’t that great?!” motif that frankly makes me irritated beyond measure. There’s no question He Has Found the Right One because he can see her jibblies in COLOR. The complete absorption and acceptance of Mikhail’s worldview, which we, the reader, are assured is the Right One by virtue of His Being The Romance Hero, is still bothersome, but at least in The Dark Prince Raven has something of a spine. She isn’t as deferential as his family and the other Carpathians (his subjects, I guess, since he is the prince and all) and she tells Mikhail off more than once, though I wish she’d have told him to stop calling her “little one.” At least it wasn’t “ma petite.”

I was most irritated when Mikhail didn’t tell Raven some of the side effects of his blood exchanges with her, leaving her for many, many hours in a state of near-catatonic misery, without any type of warning. I’d have kicked his ass all over the mountains for that, but Raven is merely relieved that he is ok when he returns to her side, and there isn’t nearly enough asskicking or groveling to satisfy my irritation with his high-handedness.

YET STILL I could not put the book down. The despair, the hero struggling literally with overwhelming emotions. Even with the perfectly perfect perfection of Raven and her inner strength that contrasts with her vulnerable mortal body, I had to keep reading. Despite being overdrawn on the Bank of Vampire Romance and unable to generate any interest (heh) in the genre as a whole for awhile now, I was fascinated by the world in the book, the autocratic ruling style of Mikhail and the holy moly homoerotic behavior between himself and his family and the other Carpathians, and the manner in which they behaved toward one another and toward mortal and Carpathian women. I also love how Feehan plays with male power dynamic: despite Mikhail being The Prince And All, there are other male characters who have power and authority he does not, yet it doesn’t diminish Mikhail in the present story – though it leaves plenty of room for sequels, of which there are many, as well you know.

The opening scene remains one of my favorites, and I have re-read it every now and again even before I received this new copy.

I’m going to try pasting an Amazon embed code with the first chapter below the fold if you’d like to read it.

(Holy hell, did that Amazon widget bork the server. I’m sorry!) Mikhail is crushed by misery, is contacted telepathically by Raven and only then does he realize that, after feeling no emotion for hundreds of years, experiencing them again is so overwhelming, it’s nearly impossible to control himself.

The idea of the chosen female, the predetermined fated One True Mate causing some sort of physical change is a very common motif in vampire and paranormal romance. The female causes sight to return, colorblindness to vanish, hearts to beat, wants (and other spiffy parts) to rise, control to be regained – any number of things. She tames him, restores him to life, and in exchange must be absorbed entirely into his keeping – good thing he’s immortal and wealthy, I guess. 

Dark Prince was the first of these types of books that I read, and I am still somewhat baffled as to why I find it so fascinating, even in a larger edition, in a hardcover, for the third or fourth time. I can only surmise that a book like this, something that was so new, so powerful and so different, even after it’s been imitated countless times, doesn’t diminish with time. The powerful innovation of the forerunner of a genre doesn’t lose it’s effect. At least, it doesn’t on me.


Dark Prince: Uncut Author’s Edition is available from Amazon in print and Kindle editions, from BN.com in print and for the nook, at Book Depository and at Powells.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1

    Thanks for sharing.  This is one of my favorite books, too.  And I actually think it’s because Mikhail is such an overbearing Alpha.  In reality, I don’t know a single woman who’d be able to tolerate the “alphaness” enough to enjoy the rest of him.  I love the relationship between him and the other men, too.  It’s funny, the opening scene is ultimately my favorite as well and I’ve reread it many times.  Jordan

  2. 2
    Melissa says:

    Dark Magic was my first paranormal romance ever so the Carpathians hold a special place for me. I still follow the series, she changed her tone over the last few and had some stronger females. I think the world she created is one of the most interesting and detailed in the paranormal genre. I also think a lot of paranormal authors “borrowed” ideas from her series.

    I bought the new Dark Prince on Kindle even though I already own the original because I had to see the new scenes. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet but the first scene is also my favorite when Mikhail is totally lost in his dispair and Raven calls out to him.

  3. 3
    Barbara W. says:

    Crap, now I have a serious urge to go re-read it again.  My copy is about to fall apart already, and no, I’m not buying a hardcover version if there’s nothing new and gloriously swoon-worthy in it.  I’m glad Sarah read it and saved me the $$.  :)

    I wrote a review of Gregori’s book when it first came out and had someone write a tirade to me about how I was glorifying the rape and subjugation of women by enjoying these books.  I got more hate mail from that one review than I’ve gotten from all of my other reviews combined.

  4. 4
    malea says:

    I completely agree! The first half-dozen or so books in the Carpathian series ARE crack! I read Dark Magic a few years ago & immediately went out and bought all of them. Read within a 2-week period, the repetitious transformations are less annoying. ;)

  5. 5
    Carin says:

    Count me in as addicted.  I can’t remember if I read Feehan or Kenyon first – it was about the same time – but they were my intro to vampires and I loved them!  I’m a kind of burnt out on vampires now, but still this review makes me want to re-read.

    While I don’t gobble them up as quickly as before, this is a series I have continued reading, and I agree with Melissa, I think her characters are improving, especially with regard to the stronger females.

  6. 6
    Chelsea says:

    I too regard the first few of the Carpathian saga as The Crack. Granted when I started reading them I was fourteen or so and chalk full of angst and hormones. Then and now I fully realize that these books are kind of cringe worthy on so many levels (those poor women, my GOD, get some control over your vampiness and stop “accidentily” turning them. oh, and many scenes are pretty rapey too) and yet, I could not stop reading. Like chocolate, I just want to carry them with me everywhere I go and gobble them up…until I get a stomach ache and want nothing more to do with them.

    And as for the last few? Ugh. Obviously people are still buying them, and yes I’m just as guilty for wasting my time with borrowed copies. But really, this series needs to end at some point.

  7. 7
    Blue says:

    Haven’t read this series yet, is there lots of steamy scenes or just meh…?

  8. 8
    SB Sarah says:

    @blue: Steamy. Way steamy. Seriously. Like whoa.

  9. 9
    LG says:

    I could never get into any of Feehan’s books. I’ve tried two, I think (before my blogging days, but I’m pretty sure I read Dark Magic and Dark Desire). I remember not liking Feehan’s writing style (something about repetitive descriptions, maybe “eyes of molten mercury”?) and really, really not liking her heroes or the relationships they had with the heroines. I wanted to understand why these books are so popular with people, but after two books I just gave up.

  10. 10
    Chelsea says:

    @Blue, they aren’t erotica by any definition but there is plenty of steam. Some have more sex then others, but when the sex does show up its EPIC. Now, after reading a few of these books you’ll notice a lot of repition, even in the sex, and it does get dull. Also as I mentioned they sometimes do the “forcefull seduction, it’s not rape if you end up liking it” thing, and whether that works for you or not is a matter of taste.

  11. 11
    Melissa says:

    Oh yes she uses lots of Feehanisms like “molten lava” “velvet over steel” “no H without h” “clenching wombs”  but the solution to that problem is to play the Feehanisms drinking game where you take a drink every time you see them. Then you have lots of fun reading her books. Warning: you will be drunk by 100 pages or less for most of her books since they are teeming with Feehanisms.

    Seriously, I enjoy her Dark series despite seeing the flowery writing. Burning Wild was also a good shapeshifter romance if you don’t mind uber alpha heroes.

  12. 12
    sweetsiouxsie says:

    I see these books on the shelves every time I go to the bookstore. I think I will have to read this one. Feehan. HMMMM! Irish heritage there? It is St. Patrick’s Day today. If you celebrate it, enjoy this special day! I’m making colcannon for dinner.

  13. 13
    Kerry Allen says:

    @LG I could only stomach one, myself. Don’t remember the title, but it begins with the heroine leaving her little brother in the care of a hobo (but they know him, so it’s okay!) while she goes out to dinner. After the criminal child endangerment, I kept reading only because I hoped her unbelievable stupidity would get her killed and she’d be replaced by less of a fuckwit.

    Alas, no.

  14. 14
    NatashaB says:

    @ Kerry Allen That was the book I stopped buying this series at, it was Dark Gold btw.
    The h was really beyond too stupid to live, it still makes me angry when I think of it. I live in Northern Ireland and in those “dial-up” days I bought several books in the series and got them posted here from the States at a massive cost. I remember thinking while reading it that C Feehan really knows how to use cut and paste.

    I have never bought another book by her.

  15. 15
    SB Sarah says:

    Burning Wild

    I read that as ‘Burning Wind’ and nearly fell off my chair laughing. If there’s a romance about burning wind, I am SO ON IT.

  16. 16
    Chelsea says:

    My turning point, where I finally through my hands in the air and said screw this, was the one where the hero intentionally gets the heroine pregnant so she’‘ll be forced to stay with him. I think her name was Francesca and his was Gabriel? I don’t know, I just remember him announcing “You’re with child.”  And bare in mind this is a centuries old heroine, and it never occured to her that this was a possibility? Also that pregnancy is apparently difficult and trying for their species, making the move extra douchey on his part.

  17. 17
    Jinx says:

    I stopped reading after a while too. I started with Dark Fire, I believe it was. I stopped reading because I vaugly remember a part in one where the sex wasn’t exactly consentual.

    If I remember right, the woman was a Carpathian and in hiding for some reason. Along comes the “hero” who finds out she’s his lifemate, forces him on her and she’s pretty much ok with it after. I remember being very disgusted. If I’m wrong, however, please forgive me.

  18. 18

    The point at which I remember thinking about stopping was when “going up in flames” came up with such predictability that I couldn’t take it any more. But that was Dark Melody, so I lasted 8 books or so.
    Loved Dark Fire and Dark Guardian, where the males were the biggest and baddest and most controlling. There, I said it.
    I totally got the crack that was Dark Fire. I recognised her limited writing style, the one great idea (Feehan virtually invented the Lifemate trope) that she riffed on and riffed on, and loved it. Comfort reads.
    Recently I went back and read one of the latest ones (TGTBTU has the review), Dark Curse. Could not get into it and I so wanted to love it, like I remember loving the early ones.

  19. 19
    Donna says:

    While I likes me some controlling Alpha male vampire crack, I never could get into these. Made it through one & thought, well thank God I never have to do THAT again. Her Sea Haven books, though? Totally addictive, & I’m so happy she decided to do the second series with Ilya’s brothers.

  20. 20
    Silver James says:

    I found DARK GUARDIAN which is like…book 5(?) on a sale table in a drug store. I bought it. Read it. Discovered the crack and went back to snatch Feehan’s back list. I read through…12? 13? of them. And quit when the sex scenes appeared to be cut and pasted, not only from previous books but from previous chapters. I moved on to her Seven Sisters series (which I enjoyed) and her Ghost Walker series, which I enjoyed for awhile.

    I’m such a bad series reader. The only one I still devour religiously is JD Robb’s Eve Dallas/In Death.

    Ha! larger36 Yes, Carpathian men are 36 times larger. ;)

  21. 21
    oneflewtoofar says:

    For the record; everytime i see ‘uncut’ in the title of a post I think they published a circumcised hero and a non-circumcised hero version of the novel you’re reviewing and I get really confused at the publisher’s specificity. Then I read the next line and the whole, book as extended dvd director’s cut thing becomes aparent. Am I the only perv that goes there first off? I am aren’t I? oh well that’s my brain for you. I’ll go read the review now. lol

    mary frances

  22. 22
    becca says:

    I think I read the first 3 or 4 of these – then they started being so much alike that it was boring.

  23. 23

    Sometimes on DVDs, you’re given the opportunity to ‘watch the movie with an extra 20 minutes of deleted scenes’. I found out the hard way that those scenes were usually deleted for a reason, and that reason usually was that they added nothing to the plot.

  24. 24

    I think, from cursory googling, the first editon came out in 1999.  Hasten, as you all do, to correct me if I am wrong.  I kinda think it is a little unfair to judge this attractive but so very troubled guy, (and I have not read it so I don’t know the story’s time frame) on today’s standards of whether it is politically correct to want the female to be “yours.”  He pretty much has what I want to call a different agenda. And are all Carpathians considered ‘nonhuman’?  I have a table with Carpathian Elm Burl Inlay, very old, probably immortal, but have never gotten any kind of vibe from it, except for maybe ‘Dust me.  Oil me.”

  25. 25

    And, I am not going to look for it at the library.  I am buying it for the cover.  I don’t really care what is inside.

  26. 26
    LG says:

    Thinking about it, I originally tried Feehan’s Carpathian books because 1) I like vampires and 2) I like books that have the soulmate trope. Maybe by the time I tried these I was over my uber-Alpha phase, though, so they didn’t do it for me. Glad to know I’m not the only one for whom these books never attained crack status.

  27. 27
    orangehands says:

    These were the first old skool-like books I read that weren’t old skool; rapey aphole hero, TSTL heroine, lots of fucked up-ness in 300 pages…I read a few (which frankly means I’ve read them all because damn, the repetition) and boy, some of them were disturbing. (Yeah, not so much a fan of the old skool style.) They may have been the first paranormal series I read though. Also the first romances I read that had pages after pages of one sex scene. And then they’d fight, make-up, and do it again for another twenty pages.

    Nah, the true crack vampire drug is JR Ward. Because I seriously do not understand why I still read those, yet I do. (Don’t buy them, but read them.) I’m looking forward to Blay and Qhuinn (too bad they aren’t the actual pairing of the next book.)

    oneflewtoofar: LMAO!

  28. 28
    Donna says:

    @oneflewtoofar – No, you definitely are not.
    As far as the whole author’s/director’s cut thing goes? I’ve yet to see/read one that was an improvement over the original.
    There’s a reason why you pay an editor (although it’s not to correct spelling or tense). Don’t second guess; do what you’re told. Those big red Xes are for your readers’ benefit.

    And

    I have a table with Carpathian Elm Burl Inlay, very old, probably immortal, but have never gotten any kind of vibe from it, except for maybe ‘Dust me.  Oil me.”

    Bwahaahaahaaaaaa!

  29. 29
    Amy says:

    I think, from cursory googling, the first editon came out in 1999.  Hasten, as you all do, to correct me if I am wrong.  I kinda think it is a little unfair to judge this attractive but so very troubled guy, (and I have not read it so I don’t know the story’s time frame) on today’s standards of whether it is politically correct to want the female to be “yours.”

    LOL, yah,1999 is such a long time ago. I assume the author went through dozens of quills before sending it off to it’s first run on cast metal press.

    More seriously, lots of us women folk seem to be wired for liking Alpha males, at least in our fantasy lives.  It’s really okay.  There’s just no need to rationalize as “it’s just the time period” thing. :)

    I’m also somewhat of the school that there really are timeless rights and wrongs.  Society influences, certainly, and individuals must adapt within social rules/norms of their times but I’m pretty sure rape has never morally correct in real life or universally attractive as an entertainment genre, even at the height of old sckool.

  30. 30
    Amy says:

    As far as the whole author’s/director’s cut thing goes? I’ve yet to see/read one that was an improvement over the original.
    There’s a reason why you pay an editor (although it’s not to correct spelling or tense). Don’t second guess; do what you’re told. Those big red Xes are for your readers’ benefit.

    Amen!!  Also, will someone please tell George Lucas that he made better films when he couldn’t fulfill every storyline whim he ever had?  (Budgets, technology restraints)  Someone should have taken away his producer/director license about a decade ago.

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