Ancient undead, dark prophecies and the Catholic Church collide in Leone’s taut thriller, the first in a planned series.
After a brief prologue set in the ancient British Isles, long before the Normans or the Saxons laid claim to the land, the story opens in present-day London, with American Lucy Manning and her friend, Chrissy, enjoying the club scene. That is, until a handsome club-goer turns out to be a vampire and attacks them. Lucy barely survives; Chrissy disappears (and later turns up as a vampire herself). A priest and a nun approach Lucy in the hospital, who later reveal that they’re part of a squad—approved, but not officially chartered, by the Vatican—dedicated to killing vampires and other supernatural nuisances. Lucy accepts their invitation to join them, and begins a tough, whirlwind training regimen, made bearable by her budding romance with another vampire hunter. However, there are signs that the vampire population—and its supernatural threat to the entire world—is growing. Leone’s tight narrative expends little effort on subplots not directly connected to the main story. Although its basic storyline has been explored before—Leone explicitly acknowledges in the introduction his debt to John Steakley’s 2008 novel Vampire$—the novel’s character development gives it a refreshing depth and thoughtfulness. Lucy, a levelheaded but individualistic protagonist, chafes at restrictions and her trainer’s taunts, but realistically judges her own fitness and puts her emotions aside to focus on what needs to be done. None of the other characters have any illusions about their life expectancies—and the bloody climax of the book, a protracted battle in an abandoned tunnel complex, makes clear their fatalism is warranted—but they share a hope and belief that what they do makes the world better.
A well-plotted vampire novel with an unusually self-aware protagonist.