Vampires anxiously wait for the awakening of their queen; when she arrives, all hell breaks loose.
Jessup’s debut horror novel overflows with blood and gore, and quite a few intriguing characters. Satan plots to unleash vicious, demonic vampires on the world and install a queen to rule them all. It starts with Artimus, who promises his soul to Satan for wealth and power, but after death, he must return to Earth as a creature of the night. He soon finds his survival depends on feasting on humans and building a discipleship for Satan and the future queen. Artimus rapes a young maiden and impregnates her with his demon seed; it’s through this woman’s descendants that the queen will emerge. Artimus also taps Baltazar to be his chief disciple, since Baltazar displayed natural demonic qualities as a human. When Baltazar must take over as leader, he, in turn, creates two other savage beasts as his cohorts. They prepare for their queen, and her reign, but they must wait for more than 100 years for her to appear. In the meantime, the vampires prey and feast on the innocent. When Lilly—the awaited vampire queen—arrives, she’s not only unaware of her destiny, it turns out she has a will of her own. It’s a good setup, but too much goes unexplored; character motivation is anemic, for example. Lilly’s story holds potent drama, even before she awakens, but the novel doesn’t supply her backstory. Without it, we don’t understand why she differs so greatly from her kind. The novel delivers some terrific scenes (one involves a particularly vicious vampire who spares a victim), but just as often information is explained rather than dramatized. This novel is not for the faint of heart or children, as Jessup does not shy away from spilled guts or sex. It also needs careful editing and proofing.
The story delivers on demons, vampires and bloody mayhem, but skimps on finer, animating nuances.