BookBub is a book discovery service that was created to help readers find new books and authors through curated lists of discounted titles. Lachesis Publishing used BookBub to promote some of my novels and I signed up to receive their daily mailings some time ago. Since I’ve been working on my new vampire novel, Ordeal of the Scarlet Order, I’ve had my eye out for vampire novels and authors I haven’t read before to see their approach to the genre. In particular, I like to pay attention to what things an author chooses to communicate about the plot, what details are left out, and how they narrate and convey dialogue. I like to compare their word usage to the usages my editors have suggested over the years. In short, my goal is to pay attention to the details and think about how I can best communicate my story. As it turns out, a BookBub mailing at the end of May pointed out that the first book of Juliana Haygert’s Rite World: Vampire Wars was available for free. The novel is called The Darkest Vampire and it looked like it would be right up my alley.
The Darkest Vampire introduces us to a young half-witch named Lavinia. As a child, her parents were murdered and she’s vowed to get revenge on their killers. The only problem is that her mother wanted Lavinia to live as a human and had her make a blood promise not to use her magic. Because of that, Lavinia’s magic is severely limited and the only person who could release her from the blood promise would be her mother. Now, out of school, Lavinia works in a Portland, Oregon tea shop. A demon arrives and says he can help her break the restraints of the blood promise as long as Lavinia steals a mysterious stone from a wealthy area man.
The temptation proves too much and Lavinia breaks into the mansion and steals the stone. However, when the demon arrives to collect the stone, Lavinia learns he had no intention of helping her and just plans to take the stone, which turns out to be more than it appears at first sight. At her touch, the stone opens up and out pops a very angry vampire, who immediately kills all the demon’s henchmen. It turns out the vampire is Killian, a high-ranking vampire who had been trapped in the stone twenty years ago by a sorcerer as part of a spell to gain tremendous power. Even though Killian has been released, he’d not completely free of the stone’s power. If he wanders too far from it, he weakens. What’s more, we learn that Killian’s brother had been killed in much the same way as Lavinia’s parents. And the same killers currently appear to be stalking the witches of Portland.
So, Lavinia and Killian work to solve the mystery of the stone while also figuring out who is killing witches and other supernatural beings. To be more effective, Lavinia also continues to seek a way to free herself from the Blood Promise she made to her mom. As part of this latter quest, the characters make an unexpected side trip to New Orleans, which I enjoyed. I did relate to Lavinia’s love of beignets, but I would have enjoyed this side excursion more if it hadn’t limited itself to Bourbon Street.
Overall, I thought this was an enjoyable supernatural mystery. At the time Killian had been trapped in the stone, he had been on a quest to destroy witches, who he saw as the enemy of vampire kind. However, through the story, we see Killian begin to fall for Lavinia. Unfortunately, Lavinia has it in her head that Killian hates all witches and every time he tries to get close to her, she dismisses him out of hand and won’t let him discuss his feelings. This last aspect was a little too heavy-handed for my taste and kept the romantic tension from working as well as it might. The vampire lore in The Darkest Witch was much like the lore in the last book I read, Chloe Neill’s Some Girls Bite. Aside from their immortality and their need for blood, these vampires aren’t much different from humans. They can eat and drink. Haygert’s vampires will be hurt if they spend too much time in the sun and they do have supernatural strength and speed. They also have, and Killian frequently uses, a strong power of compulsion. Perhaps the most amusing part of the book is how he uses his powers to avoid paying for anything.
To learn more about my vampire world and to get ready for my forthcoming novel, Ordeal of the Scarlet Order, visit: http://davidleesummers.com/books.html#scarlet_order