Darker Jewels & Better in the Dark

Darker Jewels & Better in the Dark
Review by Christine Hawkins, submitted on 9-Dec-1994

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro published two vampire books in 1993: Darker Jewels and Better in the Dark. Both deal with her romantic vampire hero, Le Comte de Saint Germain. Of course, Saint Germain, though always the same character throughout Yarbro's books, often wears different names and titles in different surroundings.

In the first of these books, Darker Jewels, Saint Germain is called Rakoczy, and is sent by the King of Poland on an embassy to the Moscow of Ivan the Terrible. There he finds himself caught up in a web of political intrigue woven by the local aristocracy and people in his own retinue. He also finds himself married off to Xenya, a very insecure and unhappy young Russian noblewoman.

In the second of the books, Better in the Dark, Saint Germain, this time calling himself Saint-Germanius, is shipwrecked off the coast of 10th century Saxony. There he is rescued by the Gerefa of the local fortress, a very insecure and unhappy young noblewoman named Ranegonda. Saint Germain also gets caught up in webs of intrigue, woven by the Gerefa's sister-in-law, Pentecoste.

If you think the two books sound alike, you are right!

Yarbro, as usual, is meticulous in researching and re-creating the past in these two novels. She manages to convince the reader that this is how the Germain series is truly absorbing.

However, I have serious objections with these novels as vampire stories.

Saint Germain's vampirism seems to have become ever more nebulous as the series progresses. By this time the very word is never mentioned. His necessary diet is glossed over, and constraints on him - established at the beginning of the series - are largely ignored. The fact that he is a vampire is not necessary to the plot of either book. One could be excused for not realising that Saint Germain is a vampire after reading these novels.

I also have fairly strong objections to the way in which women are portrayed in these novels. Saint Germain's role of "rescuer" has led him to only associate with women who need to be rescued. Yarbro makes their weakness and self-hatred virtues. Any woman who does not display this lack of self-confidence becomes a villainess and is duly punished for her transgressions - as, for example, is Pentecoste in Better in the Dark who winds up captured and raped by vikings. However, the heroines in Yarbro's novels are in the end little better off. Both Ranegonda and Xenya die before the close of Better in the Dark and Darker Jewels respectively, leaving Saint Germain to mourn them. Just for once I would like to see Saint Germain romancing a tough, feisty peasant!

These things aside, I found Better in the Dark and Darker Jewels to be entertaining, well plotted novels. While they are not among the best of Yarbro's books, they are certainly not among her worst, and will certainly be enjoyed by her fans.

Fanged Films

From the Library

As the 20th century evolved, rational man turned to science to explain mythology that had pervaded for thousands of years. How could a man be mistaken for a vampire? How could someone appear to have been the victim of a vampire attack? Science, in time, came back with answers that may surprise you.Anemia
A million fancies strike you when you hear the name: Nosferatu!N O S F E R A T Udoes not die!What do you expect of the first showing of this great work?Aren't you afraid? - Men must die. But legend has it that a vampire, Nosferatu, 'der Untote' (the Undead), lives on men's blood! You want to see a symphony of horror? You may expect more. Be careful. Nosferatu is not just fun, not something to be taken lightly. Once more: beware.- Publicity for Nosferatu in the German magazine Buhne und Film, 1922  

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