This trilogy’s second act (Crusade, 2010) delivers less romance and more violence, but neither plot nor characters develop much.
Vampires have achieved world domination, but despite high-profile mass murder (the story opens with the running of the humans in Pamplona), little notice is taken. While life (contemporary consumer culture) goes on “under the fang,” pockets of resistance survive, including the Salamanca-based team of jet-setting first responders now led by American Jenn, mentored by mysterious Father Juan and supplemented by an Israeli and a Palestinian (united against the vampire threat). From Spain, their dismal itinerary takes them to rural Russia, Montana’s dustier corners and Las Vegas, somewhat improved by undead takeover. The derivative plot drinks deep from the Buffy gene pool; clichéd cultural labels serve as characterization. Long orgies of killing are interspersed with chaste, romantic interludes garnished by unrequited love—lust is strictly of the blood variety. Weapons range from high tech (Uzis) to old-fashioned (wooden stakes, teeth and fangs). The novel achieves life only in scenes of detailed violence, vivid, breathless descriptions of pain and death. Characters ostensibly serve some vaguely spiritual higher good, but as the body count mounts, the ecumenical blather proves to be a fig leaf covering a near-pornographic celebration of all the ways we kill. (Horror. 14 & up)