Rating: 5 stars
Eternal redemption, eternal damnation. Two warriors, one good and one evil caught in an timeless loop, forever being reborn, fated to love and then die to keep the balance of the universe intact. Each time, the ancient vampire pleads with his warrior of light love to let the vampire turn him so they can be together forever and each time the warrior hesitates longer before making the killing blow. Is this the reincarnation where the warrior for good finally gives in to his hearts desire or will the pattern continue as love is sacrificed for the greater good?
Kendall McKenna continues to astonish me with her powerful stories. Her writing is precise, compelling, and memorable. Nights in Canaan is just another terrific example of her ability as an author to bring her vision to life, no matter the genre.
I will say that this story is not for everyone. If you are someone that needs a HEA or a HFN, Nights in Canaan will not meet either requirement. But if a haunting story of eternal love is one that you seek, than this is a story for you.
Nights in Canaan opens in the City of Gina, Egyptian ruled Land of Canaan, 3rd Year of Pharaoh Akhenaton (1350 bce). Both the ancient vampire and his other half, the winged warrior have risen to do battle with each other again. The warrior for good is fated to kill his lover, the vampire but not before they are given a short time in which to love each other, indulging in blood drinking and sex. Then memory and duty take over and events repeat themselves. As time moves forward we watch this happen until we reach the year 2004, City of Fallujah, Iraq. We meet Marine Sgt. Jayden Lindberg on patrol with other members of his unit. It’s nighttime and Jayden watches in disbelief as one of his men is attacked by a vampire and drained before his eyes. Somehow he knows that his weaponry is worthless against this enemy, and Jayden does nothing as his man dies. McKenna’s Marine characters are wonders of realism, and Jayden’s confusion and inner turmoil is shattering. He cannot understand his behavior in face of his soldier’s death and the easy manner in which he lied about his role. McKenna captures the dangers inherent of a patrol in Iraq and then ups the terror as the men face not just insurgents but a vampire intent on building his own army.
As the events move towards the inevitable conclusion, memories starts to resurface, and we watch as the viewpoint changes slowly from that of a human to that of an immortal. Just masterful, using a change in word choice here and there to denote someone removing themselves from a intimate connection that used to be the norm to an elevated dispassionate stance.
At one point in the story, the warrior’s memory awakes and he wonders of his ancient vampire lover:
” Did he experience excruciating pain when his fangs first lengthened and his body began to crave human blood?”
And I wonder as well, wishing for the vampire’s pov as much as the warrior’s. Both characters are weary of their continued battle, full of pain at the inevitability of their roles and yet their love is as potent as ever. The story ends as it should, the only way it can. At 65 pages, it is short in length but will stay long in your memory.
Cover Art by Deana Jamroz is nice but not nearly as good as the story within.