Author: K. J. Wignall
Genre: YA Fantasy
Series: The Mercian Trilogy (Book 1)
Publication Date: September 5th, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 272 Pages
ISBN-10: 160684220X (Egmont)
ISBN-13: 978-1606842201 (Egmont)
Reviewed by: Emmy
I do not remember being bitten. I wish I did, for then I would know the creature who did this to me and I would have a purpose, to track him down and repay him for the poisoned gift he gave me.
Back in the Thirteenth Century, Will was destined to be Earl of Mercia, although he never lived to inherit his title. In the centuries that follow, Will has led a lonely life, learning to deal with whatever the present day throws at him, always searching for answers but never finding any. Until this time, when he awakens after a 20-year-slumber, hungry for the blood that sustains his undeath, when it appears that he is finally getting a glimpse at why he exists. He does indeed have a destiny, and an enemy, but revealing that fate will be a matter of trust…
Quick & Dirty: Strong exposition and a unique take on vampires come together in this novel to show us another side of the world we live in. The first in a new series, this novel is a build up to book two.
Opening Sentence: We burned the witches in 1256.
A vampire wakes up from hibernation to discover ghosts stalking him and a human girl somehow connected to his destiny–whatever that is. Wignall has created vampires that are different from our classic Draculas. They don’t need blood for physical survival–it’s the vampires’ souls that calls for it. While their bodies are trapped at the age they died, vampires hair and teeth (which he files down [insert shudder here]) and fingernails continue to grow. I’m pretty sure the author was trying to use the urban legend that hair and fingernails continue to grow after death, but it’s not true (no corpses were exhumed to find this information). And they can hibernate for years–decades, if they drank enough before sleeping.
Will died at the age of sixteen as the heir to the Earldom of Mercia and awoke to find his father dead and his brother had inherited his title. Everyone thought Will was killed because of the witch burnings–because in hindsight Will knows those were innocent women his father sent to death. But the truth is turning out to be far more involved and complex than anything Will can imagine.
We’re introduced to a kind of villain hierarchy in this book. There are bad guys. Then the bosses of the bad guys. Then Lorcan Labraid, the evil of all evilness. Will’s never heard of him, but he’s certainly interested in Will. So is Wyndham, another unknown element hunting Will. All we know about Wyndham is that he’s scary enough even ghosts live in fear of his power. But Lorcan’s really our concern in this book, so he’s the villain I’ll focus on. Will and his readers are introduced to the fact he has a destiny almost from the get go: he wakes up, he needs blood, he finds someone he doesn’t think will be missed. But just before he can kill him, this squatter spews nonsense about Will and a girl–a girl he’s going to need. Now, if Will didn’t need this guys blood so much maybe he would have waited a second before sucking him dry. But he couldn’t and now the homeless guy is dead. All Will has to go on is nonsense scribbled inside his journal–a journal that also happens to have a sketch of a girl named Eloise.
Will’s been alone for hundreds of years, but it’s hard to be with a girl who tastes like dinner–no matter how pretty she might be. So Will is going to stay away from Eloise. He’s going to go back to his crypt and hibernate and forget all about the guy hunting him down. Except the ghosts that were haunting him are going after Eloise too. And when he listens, he can hear them. What they’re saying isn’t good.
I like the character building Wignall does here. Eloise is a smart heroine and there are a number of points in the story where she reacts in what I think is a perfectly reasonable manner. But there are moments with Will–particularly in the present, though sometimes in the flashbacks too–that take a long time to read. He spends a lot of time thinking. A lot of time brooding. And a lot more time wondering what’s going on. Rachel and Chris are classic stock characters at the moment, though I have high hopes for their development in the next book. In Blood they were just convenience characters. They helped move along the mystery a tinsy bit, but if their characters didn’t exist I think the story would have been just as well. There are hints at the end of Blood that there’s more to their place in the story than just being convenient.
This book can’t function as a stand-alone read. As the first in a series, some questions get answered but we’re left asking a whole lot more. Honestly, that was one of my main problems after finishing the book. I wasn’t satisfied with it at all, not because of the questions so much as the way they contributed to the let down at the end. Wignall does a great job of making sure his characters only know what they could realistically put together–he doesn’t take the easy way out as far as the mystery is concerned. Not only does this help build suspense, but it makes his characters more realistic. A good book, even if we do get a little bogged down in Will’s thought monologues. I definitely want to read the next one to find out who on earth all these villains are–as well as why Will is so important to them.
“Look in the mirrors–tell me what you see.”
He didn’t understand. “I told you, I cast a reflection.”
“No, I mean look in the mirrors.”
Out of the corner of his eye then he spotted something moving in the mirrors. He looked across the room, but there was nothing there. He drew closer and immediately saw that there were shadowy figures beyond the glass, as if they were windows looking on to some dulled room, just visible beyond the reflection of tiled walls.
They were hooded, wearing dark robes, so at first Will thought they were monks, but almost immediately he realized from their silhouettes that they were women. He tried to focus on their faces but couldn’t and every time one came close she seemed to keep her face hidden from him.
“They’re whispering,” he said because he could hear it now.
“I thought they were. Can you hear what they’re saying?”
“No,” he said, lying, not wanting to tell her what it was. “I can’t see their faces either.”
“I saw them,” she said, her voice sounding small. He turned to look at her and she said, “They don’t have any. They’re just blank, or almost blank.”
The Mercian Trilogy:
FTC Advisory: EgmontUSA provided me with a copy of Blood. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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