on 12 May 2011
Initially when I started this book I didn't expect it to be as absorbing and satisfying as it is. The steady pace meant it took more than a few pages to get into the story. However, that's my one and only negative and it's a small one.
Absorbing and satisfying is the only description that fits the gradual expansion that made every distraction in my life irritating. By the time I reached halfway I'd find myself suddenly thinking of Willem and wonder what was happening to him, as if his life hadn't `paused' while the book lay shut, but his life was continuing without my attention between the closed pages. That felt unacceptable; I wanted to be reading.
Willem is both a businessman and loving uncle, with much in his life to be thankful for including a long-standing friendship with his best mate, Jake. That's not to say that Will's life is without stresses and seeing Jake at long last appears to be getting serious with his latest girlfriend, Will decides to take a chance and follow what began as an internet romance to its logical conclusion, to meet up with the person he's only known online. From here what happens after Will disappears leads the reader into a clever reworking of mythology extending back to ancient Egypt. As I immersed deeper into this supernatural world that exists in the undercurrents of our own, that initial steady pace began to make sense. One needs to fully know and understand Will to make what happens to him all the more involving.
It's been a while since I read a book where I loved almost all the characters, both `good' and `bad' and ached equally for them. There's much manipulation and secretive agendas that make the line between antagonist and victim blur, as do the lines of sexuality. Although Will is gay, this is not a homosexual novel, and it would be a tremendous pity if anyone dismissed the reading of it as anything less than it is -- an engrossing narrative that finally brings new life to the vampire mythos that could equally interest vampire aficionados as well as those with no particular liking for the subject.
This is and isn't a vampire book, just as it is and isn't so many other things, but rather a satisfying blend, a commingling of old and new, the future and the past, complexities of relationships, love and hate. One is left feeling that these characters are all being moved like pawns in some great game where some fundamental rule or `truth' is missing. Those who believe they are following a line of destiny are as helpless as a newly rebirthed upyr of the story. I hurt for Frederick in an almost equal way as I did Willem. In this expert way, the author humanises the villains of the piece, making the reader care even when a twinge of betrayal or guilt accompanies the feelings, for Willem remains the central pivot that wreaks havoc with the emotions, both with the other characters in the story and in turn with the person turning the pages.
Unusually for a book in a series, I have to agree with another reviewer who commented on the truly great ending, calling it both subtle and powerful. I'd like to add another word to that: perfect. It's the perfect end at the perfect moment. While I'm eagerly awaiting the next volume, I feel content enough to leave the story for now, and let the events I've learned so far percolate...with anticipation.