In Ash’s (The One and Only, 2018) fantasy sequel, a vampire heroine defends humanity against a tyrant who’s partially responsible for her existence.
In the year 2029, the bioweapon F8 ran amok, decimating life on Earth. Now it’s 2041, and the vampire Ruby Spencer—whose unique blood allowed her to save humanity in the previous series installment—thrives in Annapolis, Maryland. She and her husband, Clay, work for U.S. President William Unger’s Special Warfare Council and have a 9-year-old daughter named Gabby. Zombies—a result of the mutated ZOM-B virus—have dwindled to controllable numbers, and animal life is on the rebound. One night, a bat enters Ruby and Clay’s bedroom, accompanied by a strange dip in temperature. Afterward, Liora, Queen of Light on the planet Athanasia, makes telepathic contact with Ruby. She explains that Zagan, her home’s King of Darkness, has begun making trips to Earth in various physical forms—including that of a bat. He wants to make humanity the source of blood for his vampire kingdom. However, Zagan doesn’t realize that Ruby is a being called the Tether, who has both his and Liora’s blood flowing through her veins and is potentially “the most powerful vampire in the universe.” Meanwhile, ethically challenged scientist Emory Bradshaw sits in prison, manipulating events and people, including President Unger, to his advantage. In this bold sequel, Ash continues to deliver unexpected elements, such as the crash of a plane without passengers, and a trip to the Eden-like Great Island in New Zealand. To meet the challenge posed by Zagan, Ruby hones new powers of matter manipulation and teleportation. Zagan, who tries to assault Ruby in his castle, is reminiscent of Dracula, and, at one point, he criticizes humanity for “cavalier and wasteful” animal husbandry “with no regard for attaining equilibrium” with the environment. However, despite being 3 million years old, he’s yet to acknowledge that “Intelligence and character are sharper than any dagger,” as Ruby says. The third act requires her to make a heartbreaking sacrifice, although Ash cunningly spares the heroine immortal misery.
An endearingly ghoulish fantasy sequel that explores unusual territory.