This book was slow for me to get into. I think it was just me, though, because as I got into the meat of it…I fell in love. Vampire books are pretty common, but rarely do I find one where there is no clear good guy/bad guy. Vampires are either good guys (ethically taking blood without death) or bad guys (pyschopathic killers). Jay Raven manages to make all the characters in his book human. NOBODY is perfect and everybody has a history. Key to this is the fact that vampires are on the cusp of trying to become more palatable to the general public, but only for their own reasons.
The story itself is written as not urban fantasy (where the vampires are an unknown entity to all but a few) but more historical magical realism. Vampires exist. Everybody accepts and knows this. There is prejudice and they are segregated. However, vampires are a well-known and acceptable part of recent history. The whole thing reads as literature and not popular fiction, delving deep and depending on personal conflict to move the story along. The tone is reminiscent of some of my favorite Russians.
Perhaps most intriguing to me is the fact that the vampires are unapologetic. They are stronger, faster, and have psychic talents. But they still have family units, feel pain and loss, and are loyal. As you read, you learn more about the personal history between the main characters, but still over-arching is the question of who is REALLY the monster? The man who hides in the backwater doing nothing to help the people against a regime that oppresses? The man who hunts men and vampires alike strictly for the money he can get for them? The vampire who slaughtered indiscriminately? His ‘mother’ who will do anything to save him? It’s been a while since I found myself sucked into a world like I was this one.
Raven spends little time on desriptions of the world, tossing out details as part of the narrative, but not really giving any info dumps. This is, of course, fine by me. We slowly piece together the settings through the eyes of the characters. We also piece together the characters through the eyes of others.
I am really looking forward to the next book in this series and can’t wait to see where Raven takes us next. Definitely grab the buy link below and check this one out.
Crimson Siege – Blood Riders Book One.
In the Godforsaken badlands of Transylvania the fragile truce between mankind and monsters is about to explode…
When bounty hunters target one of 19th century Europe’s most feared vampire clans, the last place any lawman wants to be is caught in the middle…
But for Anton Yoska, Lord Marshal of the Imperial lands south of the Carpathian Mountains, fate has trapped him in a supernatural stand-off that can end only in a bloodbath.
A gang of mercenaries led by Anton’s former army comrade Milosh Drubrick have captured vampire aristocrat Stefan Modjeski, wanted for a string of frenzied murders, and have come to Anton to claim the reward. And as Stefan’s predatory undead kin lay siege to the jailhouse, Anton is faced with an agonising choice – hand over his prisoner and abandon the bounty hunters to their unspeakable fate, or stand and fight.
The jailhouse defenders are outnumbered and out of options. It’s a battle that can’t be won, certain slaughter for them all, and Anton can’t trust his scheming allies. But Lord Marshal Yoska isn’t about to surrender.
For he’s an experienced vampire hunter, a dangerous man when cornered, and a single minded warrior who knows there are worse things to fear than death…
Jay Raven is the author of Gothic chillers and historical horror reminding readers that the past is a dangerous place to venture, full of monsters and murderous men. He blames his fascination with vampires, witches and werewolves on the Hammer Horror films he watched as a teenager, but living in a creepy old house beside a 500-acre wood teeming with bats may have something to do with it.