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Out of the Night    by Robin T. Popp order for
Out of the Night
by Robin T. Popp
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Researcher and part time firefighter Lanie Weber is on her way to the Amazon to bring home the body of her crypto-zoologist father, killed in an accident. Her uncle has arranged for Lanie to be flown to her father's remote research facility by veteran pilot Michael Knight. Lanie has no idea that Mac is on a mission of his own. An ex SEAL who still has ties to the military, Mac has been dispatched to uncover the real reason behind the deaths of Dr. Clint Weber and five research assistants, who were all involved in top secret research for the government.

Lanie and Mac find the facility in shambles and the bodies of the dead strangely lacking blood. Odder still is the absence of Dr. Weber's body and that of a former comrade, turned mercenary, whom Mac is also determined to find. While Mac mounts a more thorough search, Lanie checks her father's office for additional clues. She finds what she at first believes to be a stone gargoyle locked in a cage. The sun is setting just as Lanie opens the lock and seconds later, the statue literally explodes into life. When Mac returns in time to intervene, he is bitten by the creature and almost drained of blood before it disappears into the jungle. A transfusion administered by Lanie saves his life. In quick succession, they learn various things. Lanie's father and mercenary Lance Burton are still alive and have been turned into vampires. Burton has begun recruiting a vampire army of his own. And, most unsettling, Mac has also been turned. However, because Lanie intervened with transfusions, he didn't actually die. Instead, he's become a changeling - part human, part vampire. Lanie and Mac must not only deal with the realization that creatures of legend actually exist, but must also come to terms with the fact that their interaction with creatures believed to be chupacabra has forever changed their lives - and perhaps the life they could have together.

Popp puts a refreshing spin on her vampire story by utilizing a legend that has been reported in various media over the last few years - apparent sightings of el chupacapra - shadowy creatures common to the southern hemisphere that suck blood from livestock. In addition, while they are responsible for changing humans, Popp doesn't portray her chupas as evil. Rather, they are creatures that prefer to keep to themselves but are captured and exploited by humans. This twist, along with a cast of likeable characters who are in turn balanced by a few blood-thirsty human villains, makes Out of the Night a well-written, fast-paced, and very engaging first book of what looks to become an intriguing and fresh new series.

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