This horror debut finds a vampire coven at odds over the fate of two adopted, enigmatic members.
Redheaded twins Lukas and Tristen appear to be no more than 9 years old, but they’re actually adult vampires filled with mature yearnings. One evening at Maverick Manor, vampire-coven leader Jak Maverick calls a meeting. The twins attend, as do Jak’s siblings, Zachariah, Jaqueline, and Maliki. When Jak announces his plan to officially induct the twins into the coven, Maliki objects, stating that the other clans will punish them for breaking the “cardinal rule” of “enlisting” children. In fact, the twins’ true origins are known only to Jak, who protects the Maverick legacy against the vengeful Summerset coven. After Jak castigates Maliki over his disagreement, Maliki travels to neighboring Dantmore and the Peterson Manor that he oversees. Along with his seductive subordinate, Veronica, he plans to trick a rogue group of vampires into attacking the Mavericks during the twins’ induction. This may be easier said than done, though, as the seemingly gentle Lukas and the moody Tristen are both capable of ferocious violence. In this romance-tinged debut, King evokes the Victorian goriness of Anne Rice’s vampire novels. The Maverick family dynamic is the author’s strongest suit, especially as Lukas comes to realize his love for Jaqueline; after a peck on the cheek, King describes him feeling “where her lips had touched his skin. It was almost warm there.” Splatter devotees will be entranced by the detailed maulings and mutilations, as when one vampire “lapped at the blood spewing out” of her victim and had “shining red spilling over her chin and bosom in a grisly geyser.” Hypnotic as King’s fantasy is, though, reality frequently intrudes in the form of awkward grammar and misused words (“His mental state in that day had been as a seven year old, and upon sight of the blood, he’d began to panic”). Still, an active, twisty plot keeps the pages turning.
An often satisfying blood bath of a debut but one in need of a stronger edit.