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Daughter of Dusk (Midnight Thief Series #2)

Daughter of Dusk, Midnight Thief Series #2


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Book Review

Kyra now knows a little about her bloodline ties to a shapeshifting group called the Makvani. But can a teen assassin, thief and … monster like her make a difference in the world?

Plot Summary

A lot has happened in Kyra’s young life.

She thought she was just a teen orphan who became a thief. But so many other things have become a part of her mix. First, she was taken in by an assassin’s guild. Then she found out she has bloodline ties to the Makvani—a group of shapeshifting, cat-like “Demon Rider” people who have terrorized the city of Forge from the nearby forests.

In Kyra’s mind, all of that officially makes her a monster, even though it was not by her own choice. Fortunately, only a handful of people know who she really is. But Kyra’s strengths, weaknesses, past associations, and even her ancestors now make her useful to the Palace.

She’s been called upon to help root out assassins and aid with other pressing problems in the city. And she’s happy to heed that call. Of course, if she’s being honest, one reason she’s so dedicated to her work is because she works alongside a former Palace Knight named Tristam Brancel.

Not only has this brave and handsome soldier saved her life in the past, but the two have grown very close. And though their stations don’t allow them the luxury of a true romance—he being of a noble house and she being a pardoned criminal—they can’t help but feel attraction’s pull.

That, however, is only one of the struggles in this young woman’s life as of late. Political turmoil pulls at the city’s seams. And Kyra must care for a poor, makeshift family she has gathered around her, too.

Even more pressing, though, is Kyra’s own raw emotional draw to the Makvani. Who are these people? Does she have a parent among that group? Why has no one ever never reached out to her? What will happen if she gives in to the sense of shapeshifting heat and power that dwells at her core?

Without a doubt, Kyra feels torn between so many people and too many worlds. And soon she will have to steel herself for the biggest conflict, the biggest battle she can possibly imagine.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems

This fantasy centers around the magic-like aspect of a breed of shapeshifting people called the Makvani, who can transform into large wildcat-like creatures that are as big as horses. These “demon cat” people are said to be related to “mythical felbeasts of legend.”

The Makvani are called Demon Riders by humans. But there isn’t a spiritual component here other than the shapeshifter’s beast-like, otherworldly appearance.

Authority Roles

Many people in authority here are either duplicitous or rotten to the core. Malikel is one exception. He’s the city’s defense minister and one of the governing Council members.  As a politician, he’s forced to compromise at times, and he can come across as rather stern. But he is also an honest individual who Kyra can turn to and trust to do the right thing. He rises to a more important position of power in the face of widespread political corruption driven by another Council member.

Tristam is another noble spirit. He’s a little older that Kyra, but he’s willing to put everything on the line to make the honorable and upright choice, even in the face of those with greater authority. It’s noted within the story that Tristam’s honorable nature is part of the reason why he was demoted from the rank of Knight (in the previous book).

We see officials and officers make corrupt choices in the midst of a political coup.

Kyra has developed a makeshift family with two younger girls from the streets—Idalee and Lettie—whom she treats as sisters. An older guy named Flick acts much like an older brother. This small family group defends and cares for one another deeply.

We find out that Kyra’s genetic father is in the group of Makvani living nearby in the forest. But he isn’t a warm or seemingly caring person. We eventually learn that this human/beast group is far different than humankind. Human culture and emotional sensibilities are quite odd and uncomfortable to the Makvani. That said, some of their number are drawn to humans. And some give their lives for Kyra and the cause she eventually champions.

Kyra and others put their lives on the line to avoid war between two human cities and to somehow create a lasting peace between the humans and the Makvani.

Profanity & Violence

No language issues. We see characters drink wine and sparkling wine at a couple palace events.

Several war-focused scenes depict groups of soldiers attacking shapeshifters (including Kyra), other humans and creatures. Combatants are hit with swords and impaled by spears or raked by sharp claws. It’s implied that things get bloody, but it’s not clearly defined. People are driven to the ground and fall from heights. Troops gather outside a city with the goal of forcibly taking over or starving the populace out.

The bloodier scenes are actually the more intimate ones. Idalee, for instance, is set upon by several brothers who begin with bullying push-and-pull actions. That grows into a bloody scene where this teen girl is beaten to the ground and kicked. She’s diagnosed with broken bones and a concussion, her hair matted with blood.

Later, Kyra is attacked by these same young men and she shapeshifts into cat form. She not only bites into someone’s arm but kills another one in a very bloody, violent manner. In each of the cases where Kyra shapeshifts, someone is bloodied in one way or another, and she must fight against her own animal bloodlust.

Another intimate bloody moment is between Kyra and James, the head of the Assassin’s Guild. We hear about the torment she had suffered at this man’s hand (in the previous book), including being stabbed in the abdomen by him. He’s in prison now and badly beaten. Someone tries to free him and they slash and kill several guards. In retaliation, the palace declares that James will be tortured and killed in the public square. However, Kyra honors a promise to the evil man and kills him with a knife before the brutal public display—closely holding his gaze as he dies.

Kyra is wounded in several circumstances. During one effort to capture an enemy without bloodshed, she is hit with a mace and has her hips and one leg smashed. (Shapeshifting to cat form aids her healing.) A young woman is hit in the back with an arrow.

Sexual Content

Kyra remembers kissing Tristam in the past. The two grow even closer and kiss a few times. Kyra’s “brother,” Flick, is said to be popular with young women his own age. And we see him charm a young Makvani woman whom he eventually falls for. [Spoiler warning] We learn, in fact, that Kyra is the offspring of a union (and implied marriage) between a human mom and a Makvani father.

At a palace event, a servant girl in a form-fitting dress is ogled by a Council leader. We later learn that this married councilman is keeping this young woman as a mistress—something that is apparently not uncommon. In fact, we’re told that Flick is the son of a nobleman who had an affair with another serving woman.

The Makvani, when they transform from cat form to human form, reappear naked. That is dealt with subtly as transforming characters are quickly covered by cloaks. But at one point Flick takes distinct notice of one Makvani woman’s “shapely backside.” It is mentioned that a male shapeshifter transforms and it becomes “Idalee’s turn to blush.”

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Additional Comments

Author Livia Blackburn’s Daughter of Dusk is very much an action-adventure fantasy filled with sword-swinging violence and a sense of fantasy magic.

That said, it’s also a story filled with heroic actions and the protagonist’s desire to do the right thing and protect her family. And as dark as the “Demon Rider” and “demon cat” labels in the story may sound, there are really no dark spiritual elements in the mix.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not necessarily their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book’s review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Review by Bob Hoose