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by Robert Tomoguchi

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 2022
ISBN: 9798218074432
Publisher: Ink Bleeds Books

A powerful vampire leader struggling with continuous loss must stop the menace that’s threatening her bloodline in this final part of Tomoguchi’s horror trilogy.

It’s been just over a year since Orly Solodnikova became empress of the Cobălcescu bloodline. Having consumed the bloodline’s most potent blood, she’s the strongest among the vampires she reigns over. But the 23-year-old, who’s forever stuck in a 12-year-old body, is wracked with loneliness. She dearly misses those in her life who have died, and she’s so depressed that she sends away the only two people she loves: vampire Berthold and her “fledgling,” Kristy, whom Orly made immortal; they’re in a relationship with each other and contemplating a future without Orly. The empress wallows in self-isolation at her Los Angeles home until she gets news of her old enemy Trajan. He’s been rallying other covens against Orly and may be behind the recent spate of murders of Cobălcescu in Europe. It gets worse when Berthold and Kristy suddenly go missing, most likely in Trajan’s hands. Orly’s bloodline needs her now more than ever, and she vows to protect the Cobălcescu and take out Trajan and any of his cohorts. This necessitates staunch leadership and politicking, as she meets with such mighty vampire groups as the Eternal (with each member clocking in at 2,000-plus years old) and the Azunu, the world’s oldest coven, based in Rwanda. Orly fights to prevent a war and eliminate Trajan, while hoping that she finds Berthold and Kristy alive.

This cohesive three-novel series is a vampire story with heart. Tomoguchi’s protagonist has always been sympathetic; she began as an orphan and, in her latest outing, suffers great emotional turmoil. She also faces numerous obstacles that mere mortals will find relatable. Some of the vampire leaders, for example, don’t take her seriously because of her age, as she’s thousands of years younger than many other immortals. She’s also still learning her powers, having acquired untold abilities from a vampire she drained. Seemingly endless pressures weigh her down, but Orly, time and again, proves formidable. She wields the unique art of “scribbling” black-crayon drawings that reveal others’ evil, or their “darkest desire.” This doesn’t just expose villainous secrets, but allows Orly to see what she may be keeping from herself as well. As a vampire, she can also access the Oblivion—a personal dreamlike place and the setting for the novel’s most heartfelt moments, as Orly seeks advice and solace from her late mother, Yelena. Orly sits down with a handful of commanding vampires; she aims for peaceful discussions and occasionally engages in fanged conflict. There’s some  intriguing globetrotting, too, that takes her to various lands, from the western United States and Romania to the Netherlands and Argentina. Tomoguchi’s taut prose fuels the narrative, but his dialogue, which includes telepathic conversation, is a highlight: “I suppose title characters in an opera should always expect to die,” Berthold observes at one point. The compact plot more than earns its gratifying denouement.

A sensational conclusion to a dark, captivating series.