David Niall Wilson introduces us to a world of Darkness… vampires are real, integrated into society, magic is real and has its mores and rules. When a centuries old Vampire is kidnapped from her home, for the purposes of fulfilling a forbidden and vile ritual, her lover turns to DeChance, a human wizard, book collector, and oft times private investigator.
This book book has no “Fat”, it’s lean and quick to the punch. Once the kidnapping hits it just rolls forward with a force and drive all its own. We have a ‘whodunit’… a villian who has intricately planned every step and who’s crimes only start with the kidnapping. At every step he has thought ahead and planned. The book runs at a quick pace and on a good rainy day you can probably finish it in one or two sittings. The characters are all interesting and multifaceted, and since this is a planned multi-volume series there are a ton of threads for new stories, new facets, and even more character growth.
If I had to find one thing to detract (and to me it wasn’t an issue) it was laying the ground work. David needs to explain exactly how the magick works, all the rules, so we’re hit with multiple paragraphs descriptions. I find them fascinating, though they do slow the tension somewhat. Again once the groundwork is laid the rest of the books in the series will be able to gloss over those details, only use them for flavour or for their own tension (summoning anyone…? Dramatic is the short version). His magic would be right at home to the victorian era ceremonial wizards of Europe. I could easily see Dr. John Dee performing most of DeChance’s spells, throw in some Enochian characters and we’re set.
Dave has created a unique and interesting world, one that harmoniously fits into our own. I would easily use the term Urban Fantasy– which has changed in meaning over the years… I remember when UF meant DeLint, and it was Elves in Brooklyn type of thing. Now it has the connotation that its a book by a women writer, featuring a strong female lead fighting against supernatural forces. Well as far as this reviewer is concerned, Urban Fantasy is when fantastic/ supernatural themes/races/tropes are used in a modern/ realworld setting. OK? Though I will admit there is some romantic themes heavily involved within the storyline.
So to sum it all up… we have bevy of interesting/deep characters running through a classic mystery which just happens to contain supernatural themes/trappings. We also have a lot of action and a bit of romance. Excellent read and I’m looking forward to the second volume, Heart of the Dragon.