I’ll admit that I don’t read a lot of pure Horror novels; however, where the boundary between Horror and Fantasy, Horror and Sci-Fi or Horror and history blurs, there I prowl the night; revelling in dark powers and contemplating what sort of supernatural creature I feel most affinity with (a werewolf, if you’re interested).
I read this book as part of a ‘blog tour’ and, realising I only had a few days before this review was due, ended up reading the whole book in one sitting; I am unsure whether this was down to the short timescale or to the writing of the book, but I certainly whizzed through it and enjoyed the whole process while doing so.
This is the first book in the ‘Blood Riders’ trilogy by Jay Raven, and whilst having the undead in a historical / fantasy setting isn’t new (see the post-apocalyptic mediaeval-style Horseclans series by Robert Adams, which is really rather good), Jay Raven handles the subgenre with confidence and style.
The writing is taut and well-paced, the world-building convincing due to its loose roots in history and playing on some of the vampire themes we know so well. There are a couple of truly horrific moments and I must warn that the book contains some adult themes, as befitting the genre (including swearing, sexual content and violence), but these are not overly dwelt upon nor included solely for shock value.
It definitely chimed with my love of Heroic Fantasy, in the almost clichéd ‘One man against many…’ format (read that quote in a movie trailer voice), though as I read it I found that the film ‘Assault on Precinct 13’ (the original of course, not the remake…) kept popping into my head. Indeed, there are a few similarities between the two, though the film is now so iconic and has such a cult following, that any similar siege is almost guaranteed to be compared – for good or ill.
I would give the book a solid 4 stars and would definitely like to know what happens next.
I am looking forward to the next one in the trilogy; of course, to the undead, time is meaningless…
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…
I do not get paid for blog tours and received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.