In this action-packed series opener, a starving artist finds that there’s magic in his past, and he’s determined to better his life as a commoner in a world ruled by vampires.
Graphic novelist Walford (Nowhere Man: You Don't Know Jack, Book Three, 2013) introduces readers to a post-apocalyptic world that has only the barest vestiges of similarity to modern life. Humans can exchange blood for currency at ATM-like devices; vampire siblings compete to rule regions in a closed-off city; and daring explorers see life in the Wilderness and hope to save the threatened animals. Daniel Griffin, scrawny and homeless, believes that his ticket to a better life is in winning a competition to become the chief artistic director for an animal preserve, a contest run by his idol, zoologist and author Jessica Winters. Without funds, he cannot enter, but when a chance encounter with a vampire looking for recruits gives him the opportunity to meet her in person, and possibly save her from becoming a vampire, he can’t stay away. The two instantly click—a result unappreciated by the district’s new governor, a vampire set on making Jessica one of his brides. When Daniel is literally thrown to a lion as punishment, he transforms into something more than human. Walford’s world is fascinating, and though the occasional infodump interrupts the story’s flow, the action escalates when Daniel is hunted and again when he finds allies with whom to flee the city and search for his past. At other points, Walford only hints at Daniel’s back story, leaving readers at a loss for where the plot is headed. Still, those clues and the cliffhanger ending—as well as hopes that some of the characters’ deaths might not be as permanent as they seem—will propel readers toward the next volume in the series.
A dystopian vampire fantasy likely to appeal more to fans of The Hunger Games than the Twilight saga.