A backwoods Maine doctor falls under the spell of a confessed killer whose loves and sorrows go back two centuries.
When Dr. Luke Findley undresses Lanore McIlvrae, the murder suspect the St. Andrew sheriff has brought into Aroostook County Hospital, he discovers that although her clothes are saturated in blood, her body is unwounded; every drop came from the man she admits she slashed to death. Even so, Lanny tells Luke that the murder was anything but murder and begs him to help her escape. After he’s treated to an unnerving demonstration of her claim that she’s not just an ordinary killer, he agrees. During their headlong flight to Canada and freedom, she fills in her back story for him, and what a back story it is. Lanny’s troubles began at age 12, when she first spotted beautiful Jonathan St. Andrew, the son of the town’s wealthy founder, at church back in 1809. Although Jonathan was happy to acknowledge her love, he never exactly returned it, and her tempestuous tale takes her from romantic disappointments, crises and encounters with evil to a genre-crossing exile in Boston, where she’s taken in by the Mephistophelean savior who’ll become her fate: Count Adair cel Rau, whose own lengthy back story, which stretches back to 1349, is even more eventful than hers. Adair and his unholy retinue don’t suck anyone’s blood, but the gift of eternal life he offers in return for the souls of his lovers and followers will sound awfully familiar to vampire lovers everywhere. Debut novelist Katsu adds heavy foreshadowing, insistent underlining and a suffocating earnestness to this familiar story of the bonds that never die.
Beneath the trappings of undead lore is a love story that’s deeply old-fashioned, and not just because the principals were born 200 years ago.