Midnight Marked by Chloe Neill
Series: Chicagoland Vampires, 12
March 1, 2016
Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “Did you bring a battle snack?
Ethan and Merit should know by now that the past always comes back to haunt you. A powerful group wants to rule the windy city and is willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen. When a supernatural is murdered by an unknown vampire and some strange magic is located not far from his body, the Cadogan House goes on full alert. With some help from new and old allies, Merit will have to discover what is happening to her beloved Chicago and make sure her friends, family, and lover aren’t caught in the crossfire.
Midnight Marked picks up not long after Dark Debt ended; putting us back on the crazy train until we reach the end. A highly charged pace keeps the story flowing smooth and brisk as Neill starts tightening up the open storylines and set up all the pieces to lead us into the next and final book. Yes, fellow readers, Neill has confirmed that book 13-title and release date to be announced-is the end for Merit, Ethan, and Cadogan House.
Neill’s Chicagoland Vampires has been an exciting whirlwind adventure of magic, mayhem, romance, and humor from the first moment we were first introduced to the heroine-Merit. Turned into a vampire without her consent, we have followed her year-long path from an angry grad student bent on punishing the one who took away her rights to a powerful vampire who has found a family and a lover who accept her for who and what she is. Twelve books in hasn’t even begun to dampen my enthusiasm for the rich world building, action-packed storylines, and vibrant characters created in here.
Merit and Ethan are once again in the middle of a war they were pulled into reluctantly. Two enemies are hitting the supernatural community from all sides, pushing an old alliance into question and forcing Merit to face her greatest fear. Adrian Reed is still up to his old tricks, using his popularity and shadow group, The Circle, to inflame the already highly prejudicial nature of humans against supernaturals in his quest for city-wide domination while an unknown sorcerer is running around town, one step ahead of Merit, setting the stage for something that looks big, bad…and deadly.
I was pleased by the balance of this installment. The investigative focused main conflict is offset perfectly by a bittersweet nostalgic under base that reminisces on the relationships and the different paths these characters have journeyed down to get where they are now. Neill continues to champion on how far Merit has come; learning to embrace her new life and finding peace with it. Through love, loss, pain, redemption, and acceptance, Merit continues to evolve and entertain with her snarky commentary and impressive warrior skills. She has grown so much in such a short time period, as have her friends. Mallory has also found her own balance with her magic and Catcher. I’m so glad that she and Merit find their way back to one another. Gabriel and the pack remain strong allies though they continue to remain in the background. Luc and Lindsey, Jeff and Fallon, and Paige and Arthur, along with others, continue to broadcast their strong presence as Neill drops little hints towards the finale.
“Just thinking about how much we have changed. Vampires, sorcerers, two sexy-as-hell and utterly egotistical men.An wkward adjustment for you, and a detiru into darkness for me. And yet here we are, having a drink, and preparing to go see the Cubbies.”
The romance is a persuasive presence that only serves to inflame the arc as it twists and weaves throughout, neither overpowering or fading into the background in the face of the robust storylines it encounters. Ethan and Merit have come so far from the antagonistic relationship they started out with. The intense chemistry and sharp sexual tension between these two alphas has been an entertaining element that has kept readers glued to the pages. We have watched as they battled their feelings with the same focus and determination they battled their enemies. Even though they definitely aren’t a calm, cool, and collected couple, their relationship has reached the point where they are accepting and comfortable with one another-flaws and all. Ethan has learned love doesn’t make you weak and Merit has learned she is more than her family name.
“…I will always look for you, and I will always find you.”
The ending wraps up the main conflict in the usual dramatic fashion, answering some questions while leaving others to be resolved in the finale. Midnight Marked has marked us for the final countdown and I for one can’t wait to see what Neill has in store for Chicago’s unsung heroine’s last hurrah.