I listened to this story immediately after listening to Dark Prince, the first book in the Dark series. While this one had a reader whose voice I much preferred hearing, I was once again not impressed with the audio book experience of this story. The reader had some unusual pronunciations for words which I found distracting. Also I could regularly hear background noise on the recording – pages being turned, random sounds from around the reader. I don’t know what’s up with the recordings of Feehan’s books, but I think I’ll be sticking to printed versions from now on.
This book started with the descriptions of the torture of a Carpathian male, and his subsequent burial alive. Nasty stuff. Naturally, being Carpathian, burying him in his native soil did not kill him, just kept him so weak he could not escape the confines of his prison. He remains there cut off from both sensory and extrasensory perception for seven long years, becoming increasing mad as time passes.
Jacque slowly builds his strength, first by consuming the blood of insects, and then as he creates and enlarges a hole in the box in which he is buried, larger creatures. At some point he begins to be able to reach another person telepathically, Dr. Shea O’Halloran. At first he can only hear her thoughts but as his strength builds, his ability to make contact with her also increases. At some point he realizes she is his life mate, and in his unreasoning state assumes she has abandoned him to his hideous fate. He decides to retaliate in the only way he can – by causing her mental anguish during her dreams.
Over the course of time, Jacque increases his influence on Shea and guides her decision making till she is living and doing medical research in the Carpathian Mountains. While out walking one day she is drawn to a location, feels compelled to open a trap door in the earth and finds the pine box containing Jacque. At first she assumes he is dead, but he quickly and violently destroys that idea. Shea removes him from the hole in the ground, takes him back to her place and spends many hours trying to repair the damage done by the torturers.
Once the worst of the physical damage is dealt with, Shea and Jacque must work their way through the mental damage. And, while they are doing so, another Carpathian male is abducted and tortured. The best clues the Carpathians have are locked in the broken mind of Jacque. With Shea’s help and love, Jacque finds the strength to remember who the betrayer is, and helps to destroy him and rescue his friend.
This book will never go down in history as the best ever written, and the technical issues with the audio aspect are a shame. But it was entertaining – that being my main criterion for a “good” book. I’ll happily read – not listen to - the next book in the series, Dark Gold.