Two vampires, a mortal and a werewolf fight to keep a book with mysterious powers from falling into the hands of ill-intentioned, power-hungry vampires.
Adams does a lot right in this book, which makes its flaws all the more frustrating. He has drawn an intriguing picture of a worldwide community of vampires and focused on two characters, Arthur and Jennings, whose chemistry could drive an entire series of novels. Terry, a mortal woman, and Iago, a werewolf who becomes a kind of X factor in the action, are good foils. Lyle, the contemptuous “young” vampire, is a worthy antagonist—with the added layer of complexity that he may be controlled by another vampire. The setting, Salamanca, Spain, is a mixture of ancient and modern that gives the characters historical context. The heart of a great vampire story or series is here, but some structural problems and logical leaps threaten to undo Adams’ better instincts. The book is split into four sections, each told from the point of view of one of the main characters. That’s an easy way to delve into back story, but it drives the action backward, sometimes repeating scenes. The slightly different perspective gained doesn’t outweigh the drag on the plot. By the time we get to Iago’s section, the main action is over and, without a natural ending, the section feels like a long setup for a sequel. Iago also doesn’t have language for the first part of his section, making his back story initially awkward. Adams has also set the bulk of the story in 1986, seemingly to allow for a frequent discussion of Anne Rice novels when they were at their most popular. The Rice references persist enough to be distracting, and they take you out of the story by reminding you that you’re reading a book. Also, the properties that make the mysterious book over which the vampires are fighting are only hinted at, so the reader is never entirely certain of what’s at stake.
Adams has created something worthwhile, but he has also sabotaged what could have been an impressive novel.