This is an interesting take on the whole vampire genre, pushing the languid, luxurious experience of eternal life to an extreme. The whole book plays like a scene from a Felini movie; the various members of the king’s family circle around him in a stately pavanne. There are no other characters as such, just hazily sketched mannequins, all beautiful, all dressed in the height of vampire fashion, and all languorously wicked in an amoral way.
The only real character in the story is Lian Redmond, a leader in the Free Immortals and the hidden heir to the throne, who for some unfathomed reason has not claimed his title, stolen from him at the assassination of his father. He talks around the problem without really coming to terms with it, frozen in his actions by memories of his family’s deaths. Unfortunately for the reader, this means that we have only a hazy idea of what his true problems are.
This is the primary conflict of the story, the action mostly taking place inside the main character’s mind. It is not a matter of if he should take the throne, it’s when, and most of his family thinks it should be now. However, he ducks their pressures and turns aside their arguments as he agonizes over their future.
His antagonists are the usurpers: dark metaphors for the very worst of real British aristocracy, with the morals and vicious power hunger of the nastiest members of Nero’s court in Rome. Conniving, manipulation, and bloodthirsty coups abound, but all at the relaxed tempo of those who have all the time in the world.
The only bump in this inverted fairy tale comes when the Wicked Queen shows up and tempts Lian with an alliance that would be to his family’s great disadvantage. When he refuses, the conflict takes on sudden, sharp clarity as a physical attack threatens to wipe out the whole court of Anowen. Whether this overt action can force Redmond out of his paralysis, and whether the Queen Mother will accept him as the true heir, I leave the reader to discover.
Reading this book solo was like watching a single episode in the middle of a TV season. I suggest readers start from the beginning of the series.
Recommended for fans of the statelier, more traditional Vampire style. Like watching a film through gauze, with the occasional flash of red, living blood showing through.
I was given an ARC on the Reedsy site to review this book.(4 / 5)