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DESCENDING DAWN

CITY OF THE DEAD: VOLUME ONE

From the City of the Dead series , Vol. 1

An engrossing vampire tale with a richly detailed plot and backstory.

Awards & Accolades

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In this supernatural novel, a human police detective hunting a killer reluctantly joins forces with the vampires she abhors.

A special squad for vampire-related crimes has its first case, with human detective Iliana Dawn and her partner at the helm. Their modern world is still adjusting to the Great Revelation that outed vampires. The United States made bloodsuckers illegal, but as Georgia fights the federal law, most of them gather in Acheron, “dubbed the City of the Dead.” Dawn now has a crime scene with two human bodies—one staked to a wall—and a teen vampire inexplicably on the premises. It’s a tough case that only gets worse when her and vampire Marcus Knight’s bosses stick the investigators together. Neither is happy about it, though Dawn, as readers soon learn, has a good reason to hate “Fangers.” The homicide investigation puts them close to the Black Sail (“the group that enforces the laws of vampires”) as well as a mysterious substance that some Fangers apparently crave. As Dawn tries to unmask a murderer, she absorbs quite a bit of Fangers’ lore and may even reevaluate her dismal opinion of them. Roberts packs hefty worldbuilding into this series opener. There are, for example, numerous discussions about vampires, from how they survive without draining humans to the different “types” of the undead (including the garden variety Lichs). But Dawn leads the story with panache, a stubborn, able detective who more than holds her own in combat with vampires and humans. Her journals form the narrative, and while her voice is divertingly cynical, they offer largely traditional storytelling—plenty of dialogue and certain particulars saved for later reveals. Still, the mystery thrives, as further stake deaths (this time with vampire victims) complicate the investigation. Roberts wraps up the engaging novel satisfactorily but allows some questions, including about a 21st-century war between Russia and America, to remain unanswered for the sequel.

An engrossing vampire tale with a richly detailed plot and backstory.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 9798414908852

Page Count: 273

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2022

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THE GOD OF ENDINGS

A new and contemplative take on the vampire novel.

Following a vampire across more than 200 years, this novel considers “whether this world and life in it is a kindness or an unkindness, a blessing or a curse.”

At the age of 10, Anna faces illness and death daily as an epidemic sweeps through her town. After the deaths of her father and brother, and when she's at her sickest, her grandfather arrives. Just as she’s about to succumb to the illness that killed her whole family, he transforms her into a vampire like himself. When she asks him why he did it, he replies: “This world, my dear child, all of it, right to the very end if there is to be an end, is a gift. But it’s a gift few are strong enough to receive. I made a judgment that you might be among those strong few, that you might be better served on this side of things than the other. I thought you might find some use for the world, and it for you.” The years that follow are difficult and often wrought with loss for Anna. She lives many lives over the centuries and eventually takes on the name Collette LaSange, opening a French preschool in Millstream Hollow, New York. Chapters alternate between Anna’s life beginning in the 1830s and her current life in 1984 as Collette. Notable points of tension arise when Collette tries unsuccessfully to sate her hunger, which is becoming increasingly unbearable, and as her interest in the artistic growth of a student named Leo deepens. Through decadently vivid prose—which could have been streamlined at times—this hefty novel meditates on major themes such as life, love, and death with exceptional acumen. The final questions in the book—“How presumptuous is the gift of life? What arrogance is implicit in the act of love that calls another into existence?”—serve as an anchor to meditations on these themes found throughout.

A new and contemplative take on the vampire novel.

Pub Date: March 7, 2023

ISBN: 9781250856760

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2023

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HIDDEN PICTURES

It's almost enough to make a person believe in ghosts.

A disturbing household secret has far-reaching consequences in this dark, unusual ghost story.

Mallory Quinn, fresh out of rehab and recovering from a recent tragedy, has taken a job as a nanny for an affluent couple living in the upscale suburb of Spring Brook, New Jersey, when a series of strange events start to make her (and her employers) question her own sanity. Teddy, the precocious and shy 5-year-old boy she's charged with watching, seems to be haunted by a ghost who channels his body to draw pictures that are far too complex and well formed for such a young child. At first, these drawings are rather typical: rabbits, hot air balloons, trees. But then the illustrations take a dark turn, showcasing the details of a gruesome murder; the inclusion of the drawings, which start out as stick figures and grow increasingly more disturbing and sophisticated, brings the reader right into the story. With the help of an attractive young gardener and a psychic neighbor and using only the drawings as clues, Mallory must solve the mystery of the house's grizzly past before it's too late. Rekulak does a great job with character development: Mallory, who narrates in the first person, has an engaging voice; the Maxwells' slightly overbearing parenting style and passive-aggressive quips feel very familiar; and Teddy is so three-dimensional that he sometimes feels like a real child.

It's almost enough to make a person believe in ghosts.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-81934-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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