At the beginning of the novel, the year is 1212 and Valéry is a 14 year old on fire for God and his faith. He leaves home to join the Children’s Crusade only to end up in slavery at the hands of the people he sought to convert. Four years later, near death from a beating, his “maker,” Lukios, an ancient vampire, saves him from death but Valéry now must kill others to survive. At first, he refuses, but he eventually settles into a pattern of killing those who have hurt him or those he considers criminals.
In many respects, the life of a vampire as illustrated in this book is a lonely one, but Valéry eventually resigns himself to the life he’s destined to live, although he continues to hate himself for the monster he believes he is. (In Keley’s first book, On the Soul of a Vampire, Angelina tries to convince him that he is not the monster he thinks he is). In this book, another vampire shows him what evil vampires do (in that scene, the evil vampires torture a young girl for the sport of it and not because they need the nutrition).
I grew up watching old Dracula movies in which the vampire was always portrayed as the villain, so it’s easy to forget that Valéry is a vampire. However, he is no ordinary vampire. He’s a vampire with a conscience. He’s a vampire who is struggling with his faith in God (not unlike many mortal humans).
In one scene, he plans to kill a woman who has wronged him, then he realizes she is pregnant and leaves her alone (in my opinion, this is one of the best scenes of the book because it shows Valéry’s compassion).
Despite the fact that he is a vampire, it has become easier to love Valéry as a complex character who, like most human beings, has a conscience. And in the end, it begs the question: What is God’s plan of salvation for this vampire with a conscience? Is there any hope for him? Is there any hope for any of us, for that matter? Of course, the answer is there is always hope.
After reading this “prequel,” I have come to understand Valéry’s intricate character more deeply and why he chose to do what he did at the end of “On the Soul of a Vampire.” It also made me want to read Keley’s first book again (since I know the character better)….and it makes me impatient to read Part II of this book.
Beautiful language, Catholic themes, complex story, well-defined and believable characters make this a wonderfully intense read! Keley is an incredibly gifted author, one whose future books I look forward to reading.
I highly recommend this exquisite book to everyone!
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Copyright 2011 Ellen Gable Hrkach