Mortals form an uneasy alliance with vampires during World War I.
Dr. Lydia Asher barely has time to sleep as she assists the field surgeons treating the casualties from the front lines at Ypres. But she’s still alert enough to notice mysterious shapes flitting in and out. She knows who they are, after years of fighting vampires alongside her husband, Oxford lecturer Jamie. One of them is Don Simon Ysidro, a former 16th-century courtier now posing as a British officer at the field hospital. Though he and his fellow vampires are dining off the hopelessly wounded and dying, Lydia finds his presence and protection comforting. Back in England, Jamie collaborates with a vampire, the Master of London, to track down one of what the vampires call the Others. The Foreign Office wants to capture this creature—a revenant neither living nor dead, turned mindless and vicious by a corruption of the blood. After spending 17 years with the Secret Service, Jamie knows all too well the ethical issues that can arise, and be ignored, for the supposed common good. But he’s repelled by the government plan to turn German POWs into revenants and use them as cannon fodder. The Germans, it seems, have the same plan, and the race is on. The revenants can spread their condition by a single drop of blood, they eat anything living (including vampires) in their paths, and they have a kind of collective conscience, like bees. Unsurprisingly, then, no one has yet discovered how to manage them. That’s about to change: back on the Continent, Lydia encounters Francesca the White, a renegade vampire who has the power to control the minds of the revenants. But who’s going to control Francesca in the war between the Undead and the Half-Dead?
The seventh series installment in Hambly’s series (Darkness in His Bones, 2015, etc.) is laden with enough flashbacks, unappetizing details, and earnest expository passages to exclude all but series (or vampire) fans.