Children of the Night by Mercedes Lackey
Children of the Night (1990) is the second novel in Mercedes Lackey’s DIANA TREGARDE trilogy, following Burning Water. Each of the novels can stand alone, so you don’t need to read Burning Water first. In fact, it could be argued that this one is a better starting place because it’s set earlier in Diana’s life and we learn more about her in this novel. I should mention that though this series is a trilogy, there are also several short stories about Diana that can be found in magazines or collections.
Diana Tregarde reluctantly writes insipid romance novels (but not enough to make a living at it) and, since she’s a witch and a Guardian of humanity, she occasionally does some supernatural mystery- and crime-solving.
In Children of the Night, this mystery involves an ex-boyfriend named Dave who is the guitarist for a rock band. After getting some bad drugs, the band members have changed. Their music and their careers are suddenly taking off but, at the same time, they are gradually becoming self-absorbed and greedy, endangering themselves, their fans, and the entire city. Unfortunately for the band, they’ve caught the eye of Diana the Guardian. She thinks what’s happening to them involves more than just bad drugs. It probably involves vampires.
Children of the Night is just as dark, but not as entertaining, as the first DIANA TREGARDE novel, Burning Water. While Burning Water had some likeable characters (such as investigator Mark Valdez), it’s a struggle to find anyone to root for in Children of the Night. Maybe we’re supposed to root for Dave, the ex-boyfriend, but it’s really hard to like him or to care what happens to him.
But we do get to learn more about Diana in this novel, which is welcome. We learn about her work (she hates writing bodice rippers but it’s what her publisher demands), where she lives (a dance studio), and we meet some of her neighbors and friends. It seemed to me that Diana’s personality was not consistent with how she was portrayed in Burning Water, but this could be due to the apparent difference in her age between the two novels.
Lackey’s writing style has the usual annoying quirks — the same ones that I’ve mentioned many times before. There’s also the usual rape scene (ugh), a scene involving a reporter that is amusing but (disappointingly) basically the same as a scene from Burning Water, and some unpleasant 70s language and expressions.
In general, then, I thought Children of the Night just wasn’t rewarding enough to justify the time I spent with it. I’d recommend it to Lackey’s most earnest fans, or to readers who enjoy all types of vampire stories. I do, however, recommend that if you’re going to read this series, you give Tantor Media’s new audio editions a try. These are nicely narrated by Traci Odom.
I enjoyed these the first time I read them (mostly). They were my introduction to what’s now called urban fantasy. I remember having many of the same problem you have — especially the lack of likeable characters, except maybe Tregarde herself.