Quick Review: BLOOD COMMUNION by Anne Rice (Chatto & Windus/Knopf)

RiceA-VC13-BloodCommunionUKHCLestat ushers in a new era for the world’s undead

From his meticulously restored ancestral chateau high up in the mountains of France, Prince Lestat grapples to instil a new ideology of peace and harmony among the blood-drinking community. Accustomed to welcoming the Undead from far and wide, one night he awakes to news of a ruthless attack by a group of maverick blood-drinkers.

After fleeing to investigate the terror, Lestat learns of several new enemies who despise his rule over the blood-drinking realm, and who are intent on disrupting the harmony he tries so hard to maintain. But is Lestat strong enough to take on such evil alone or will sacrifices have to be made? Will his cry for peace be heard in a world riddled with violence?

If you’ve been following CR for any amount of time, really, you’ll have noticed how much I like Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles series. The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned are, together, one of my favourite novels (I have to read them together, so they only count as one). In this, Rice’s thirteenth novel in the series, Lestat ushers in a new era for the world’s blood-drinkers as he takes the crown. Continue reading

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Quick Review: NEFERATA — MORTARCH OF BLOOD by David Annandale (Black Library)

AnnandaleD-Neferata1-MortarchOfBloodNeferata, queen of the vampires, shows her true colours…

When a threat to her realm of Nulahmia rises, the Mortarch Neferata must commit herself to a centuries-long battle if she is to save her kingdom and retain her position.

The Realm of Death convulses with the ravages of war, but Neferata continues to rule the city of Nulahmia with an iron will. Through guile and terror, she has destroyed all who would take her crown. But when a threat rises whose repercussions will stretch across the ages, Neferata must commit herself to a centuries-long battle and retain what is hers, no matter the cost.

This is the first full-length novel dedicated to the queen of vampires in the Age of Sigmar. Her origin story was first written about in Josh Reynolds’s novel, set before the history of the Old World, and also a bit in Mike Lee’s Nagash trilogy. Reynolds also wrote a short story featuring the character, Auction of Blood, which was an intriguing introduction to the character’s obsession with secrecy and scheming, always off-stage as others did her bidding. In Mortarch of Blood, Annandale gives us a much clearer picture of Neferata herself. She is presented as never before. Continue reading

Upcoming: A PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF THE VAMPIRE UPRISING by Raymond A. Villareal (Mulholland)

VillarealRA-APeoplesHistoryOfTheVampireUprisingUSStumbled across this on Hachette’s website the other day, and thought it sounded really interesting. A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising will be published by Mulholland Books in North America and in the UK, in June 2018. It looks like something rather unusual for Mulholland, venturing as it does into the horror/urban fantasy sandbox. Here’s the synopsis:

A virus that turns people into something somehow more than human quickly sweeps the world, upending society as we know it.

This panoramic thriller begins with one small mystery. The body of a young woman found in an Arizona border town, presumed to be an illegal immigrant, walks out of the town morgue. To the young CDC investigator called in to consult the local police, it’s a bizarre medical mystery.

More bodies, dead of a mysterious disease that solidifies their blood, are brought to the morgue, and disappear. In a futile game of catch-up, the CDC, the FBI, and the US government must come to terms with what they’re too late to stop: an epidemic of vampirism that will sweep first the United States, and then the world.

Impossibly strong, smart, poised, beautiful, and commanding, these vampires reject the term as derogatory, preferring the euphemistic “gloamings.” They quickly rise to prominence in all aspects of modern society: sports, entertainment, and business. Soon people are begging to be ‘re-created,’ willing to accept the risk of death if their bodies can’t handle the transformation. The stakes change yet again when a charismatic and wealthy businessman, recently turned, decides to do what none of his kind has done before: run for political office.

This sweeping yet deeply intimate fictional oral history — told from the perspectives of several players on all sides of the titular vampire uprising — is a genre-bending, shocking, immersive and subversive debut that is as addictive as the power it describes.

The novel has already been optioned by Shawn Levy and Dan Cohen of 21 Laps, the production company Arrival and Stranger Things.

Follow the Author: Goodreads

Quick Review: NIGHTSHADE by Melissa F. Olson (Tor.com)

OlsonMF-NightshadesThe beginning of an intriguing new urban fantasy series…?

Alex McKenna is the new Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago office of the Bureau of Paranormal Investigations — the division tasked with investigating crimes involving shades.

Or vampires, as they’re more widely known.

Children have been going missing, and agents are routinely being slaughtered. It’s up to McKenna, and some unlikely allies, to get to the bottom of the problem, and find the kids before it’s too late.

This is another interesting novella from Tor.com. Olson takes an interesting, newish look at vampire mythology and places them into the global spotlight. I enjoyed this quite a bit.

Vampires have only recently been revealed to a still-skeptical world, and the FBI is trying to get a handle on what they mean for law enforcement, and what they should do about them — they are, after all, far more powerful and dangerous than any other criminal the Feebies are used to tackling. The characters are well-drawn, for the most part, echoing classic types found in urban fantasy and crime/mystery thrillers. There were a few moments of info-dumping or “Now, pay attention, this is important Exposition”, and one instance of slightly-cheesy action-movie partner-bro telegraphing, but generally speaking this is a well-written, tightly told story.

Nightshades offers a good, fast-paced, sometimes creepy (the chase in the field at night!) introduction to this reality, with plenty of potential for expansion. (Something I’d be all for — I finished this definitely thinking, “More, please.”) Certainly recommended for anyone looking for a cool new urban fantasy/mystery.

*

Nightshades is due to be published by Tor.com on July 19th, 2016.

Upcoming: THE CITY OF MIRRORS by Justin Cronin (Doubleday/Orion)

CroninJ-3-CityOfMirrors

The City of Mirrors is the long-awaited, highly-anticipated final book in Justin Cronin’s post-apocalyptic supernatural thriller. I remember when the first novel, The Passage, was released in the UK: the pre-publication publicity blitz was insane, far more widespread than anything I’d seen not related to Harry Potter. I was certainly intrigued, but also a little wary. So, I kept putting off reading it, and before I knew it The Twelve was almost out. I picked up an ARC at BEA in 2012, which I also ended up not getting around to — although, this time it was because I moved. Twice. And so, as with so many books and series of 2011-13, Cronin’s novels ultimately slipped me by. I think it’s time I rectified this. Here’s the synopsis for the third book…

In the wake of the battle against The Twelve, Amy and her friends have gone in different directions. Peter has joined the settlement at Kerrville, Texas, ascending in its ranks despite his ambivalence about its ideals. Alicia has ventured into enemy territory, half-mad and on the hunt for the viral called Zero, who speaks to her in dreams. Amy has vanished without a trace.

With The Twelve destroyed, the citizens of Kerrville are moving on with life, settling outside the city limits, certain that at last the world is safe enough. But the gates of Kerrville will soon shudder with the greatest threat humanity has ever faced, and Amy — the Girl from Nowhere, the One Who Walked In, the First and Last and Only, who lived a thousand years — will once more join her friends to face down the demon who has torn their world apart… and to at last confront their destinies.

The City of Mirrors is due to be published on May 24th by Doubleday in Canada and the US; and on June 16th in the UK, by Orion. As I mentioned earlier, I have both of the already-available novels — I wonder if I’ll be able to catch up?

CroninJ-1&2-US&UK

Guest Post: “How a Fourth Book is Really the Beginning of a New Series” by Clay & Susan Griffith

GriffithC&S-AuthorsPicTHE GEOMANCER: The Return of the New Vampire Empire

Hi. We’re Clay and Susan Griffith, authors of the Vampire Empire books and the Crown & Key trilogy. Our newest book, The Geomancer (November 3, Pyr Books), is the latest in the Vampire Empire novels. It’s the fourth book we’ve written set in that world, but it’s the first book in a new ongoing “Gareth and Adele” series. The original Vampire Empire was a trilogy. It was conceived and executed as a trilogy. By the end of the third book, we brought the major storylines to a close and tied up most of the questions. The characters had developed over the course of three books. We proudly considered the story done and moved on to other projects.

Only it didn’t quite work out that way. Continue reading

Quick Review: THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN by Holly Black (Little, Brown)

BlackH-ColdestGirlInColdtownAn interesting, very good take on vampires

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

I’m going to keep this review very short – not because I think the novel doesn’t deserve a mention, but because my thoughts can be summed up quite succinctly (for a change). It’s a very good novel, I must say. Not perfect, but very strong and among the best and most interesting vampire novels released in recent years. Continue reading