Alex reporting in with a review of Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff which released on 2021-09-14
It’s Interview with a Vampire (well, Vampire Hunter) in a setting that’s like Castlevania/Vampire Hunter D with some Berserk and Bloodborne thrown in there. If that sentence made complete sense to you, congratulations, you’re incredibly nerdy.
DESCRIPTION OF BOOK BELOW. It’s not spoilers but it’s a review. If you don’t want to hear about the setting, characters, and some of the themes, leave off reading right about
It’s not a cheerful read–it’s gory and cynical–and it’s the first book of a series. The world it sets up is fun–a sort of fantasy Europe (where everyone seems French for some reason) where a meteor hit the world and kicked up so much dust it hasn’t settled twenty-five years later. The sun is obscured enough that vampires don’t die in the sunlight. Vampires are making a serious bid to rule this not-Europe under the leadership of one who calls himself the Forever King because he (not unreasonably) expects to be around that long, but other things what go bump in the night are mentioned and sometimes encountered.
The hero is a guy who has been reduced to some deep cynicism and, to put it bluntly, assholery by ill fortune and hard life (and, at one point, gets epically, gloriously, proven wrong after he makes an ass of himself). He’s the last member of an order of monster slayers who tattoo themselves with a silver-based ink because silver burns monsters. Is that good for a long lifespan? Probably not, but they don’t really expect to see old age anyway, their job being what it is.
I initially thought this was an edgelord power fantasy and I was okay to read it on its terms (I like a good dark fantasy romp), but then the author pulled the rug out from under me and showed more sophistication than I expected and kept building on it.
It had some good LGBTQ+ rep in there (albeit in a very narrow-minded society, but it’s presented as society having its priorities oriented on things that aren’t really it’s business) and, also, some hilariously catty back-and-forth between the hero and the vampire jailer recording his story.
Remember how I said it was Interview with a Vampire? Yeah. The whole this is framed as a conversation, with the hero doing the bulk of the talking but sometimes stopping to trade insults or bicker with the historian. There’s illustrations, as well, and those are called out as being the vampire using his super speed to sketch and draw in between taking down lines.
Right, rant over. I enjoyed the book enough I got a proper copy when it came out. My ARC didn’t have all the illustrations in it yet.
Interested in a copy? You can order it on our website to ship, deliver (local only) or pick up in store