Keystone (Crossbreed #1) by Dannika Dark
Raven Black is a half-vampire, half-mage vigilante who lives on the streets and thirsts for justice. When she’s tapped to join a covert organization, she has to decide if taking orders, verbally sparring with her hot vampire partner and formally recognizing her supernatural nature are worth giving up her freedom.
The exposition and background of this story are written in large chunks. I would have preferred a little more subtle world building in characters’ language or actions. This is the third series Dark has written in this world, so perhaps she assumes her readers are already familiar with it.
Raven is rude, headstrong, and doesn’t listen to orders. Normally I like a feisty hot-headed heroine, but her irritable nature also results in her incompetence. As I was reading I couldn’t understand how she had successfully killed so many murderers and thugs while living on the streets when she seems so underwhelmingly incompetent.
The characters in the Keystone all just seem a little off - their jokes try a little too hard and fall a little flat (especially for Christian, the vampire partner, and Raven). Actually, the minor characters seemed the most well-rounded and entertaining, even though we didn't dive too deep into anyone's back story. I especially loved Claude, a chitah breed, created by Dannika Dark. You can read more about Chitah’s on Dannika’s website here.
The most well rounded characters are the ultimate good and ultimate evil. Viktor, who heads the Keystone organization, makes the most logical sense when he’s talking with Raven. Likewise, I felt myself relating to and understanding the main bad guy when you finally meet him. I identified with the bad guy better than our MCs, which is both promising for future books and disappointing for the current one.
I really enjoyed reading about Raven’s world. It’s a unique take on the supernatural, with new definitions of magic that powers each breed. (Each supernatural type is it’s own ‘breed’.) For example, ‘inner light’ powers mages and ‘dark light’ powers vampires. I, like all other readers, am interested to know how both co-exist in our MC when every character she meets is repeatedly floored that she exists. The author barely hints at her backstory, so there’s plenty fodder to dive into the rest of the series.
I most enjoyed reading about Claude, a chitah breed with catlike characteristics, specifically created by Dannika Dark. Having unique breeds and well-defined world building really helped immerse myself in the story, and luckily Dark's website has a whole section devoted to this world.
And I would have called this book one-and-done except for a specific scene between Raven and Christian at the very end. It sets up the sexual tension for future books and I am highly intrigued.
These characters and their interactions reminded me of the first season in a serial tv show. One that you know will get better after they have a little time to marinate. I hope to see them, especially Christian and Raven, more clearly developed in the rest of the series.
Have you read Keystone? Is Raven a sympathetic character? What did you think of her relationship with Christian?