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Thursday, 11 February 2010

Review: The Midnight Guardian

Author: Sarah Jane Stratford
Genre: Historical Fantasy / Vampire Fiction
Release date: October 2009
Target audience: Adult


Summary from Amazon:
Although it is not the vampire way to interfere with human politics, they remember the destruction of the first World War. Their food supply was badly depleted, leading to a vampire famine, and a devastating vampire war. When London's vampire tribunal senses that Hitler is paving the way for another human war, they are determined to break the spine of the Nazis before much more damage is done. But as they delve deep into Hitler's war machine, they discover that the Nazis are more monstrous than they ever imagined, and that they are more encumbered by their inhumanity than they ever thought.

Review:
The Midnight Guardian certainly has an intriguing premise. Set amid the Second World War, the vampires of Britain elect to interfere with the affairs of the humans in the hope of turning the tide in favour of England and its allies. There are some captivating parts to this novel, in particular the depth of the vampire's history and the background to their condition. Also, the way each vampires uses its different abilities to seduce their prey was fascinating and simlutaneously creepy. Despite the original premise and well-depicted landscape to this novel, I found it really hard to read because of the manner in which the story unfolds. Each chapter moves back or forward in time telling part of the story. It alternates between revealing the vampires' past, their decisions during the conflict and then the immediate story of Brigit. This stopped me connecting with the story because at the end of each chapter, you left one time and space and moved to another. It left me with no feeling of wanting to read on. So I spent more than a week reading this book desperately trying to let it capture my attention but it never quite succeeded.

Brigit is the main character whose journey we experience through the novel. She is a millenial vampire from whence the title of the book comes and thus has the added protection of age. Vampires who have not yet crossed the 1000 year threshold are more vulnerable to attack. Brigit is an interesting character who struggles to contain her rage. Throughout the novel we are allowed into Brigit's thoughts and reflections upon the humans she meets and this cold and derisive voice was at times hard to relate to. I think of other vampires in fiction and the ones that I most relate to are those that wish they were human.

The plot moves slowly as we move through the alternating time periods and locations. The parts when Brigit are on the train from Berlin are particularly slow. This perhaps echoes her frustration that the journey seems to be never-ending. I shared this frustration. I wanted to get to the action, to understand what the vampires hoped to achieve in Berlin. I'm not sure I even understood this by the end of the novel and I think Brigit felt the same.

Overall, I did like this book. There was a depth to the world Stratford depicted. For me the main failing of the book was in its method of telling. I would rather have journeyed with Brigit in chronological order beginning with the tribunal and ending with the end. (I don't want to give it away). I really did want to love this book. It has my absolute favourite cover. I tried to love it but I failed.


16 comments:

Shweta said...

The blurb sounded really good. Too bad that it didn't live up to your expectations. Agree that cover is absolutely great.

prophecygirl said...

Oh no, what a shame you didn't love it as much as I did!

I really liked that it wasn't told in chronological order, though it did get a bit confusing at times. I can't wait for the next one!

Elie said...

I am drawn to this cover too. It sounds interesting, especially the details about the vampires. A slow moving plot makes it tough to read though. Thanks for sharing.

Charlotte (The Book on the Hill) said...

I feel like vamp books in general lack a bit of history, and I always love when the legends or ols stories about the vampires that are present in the books are told. The fact that it's not chronological sounds cool to me, too bad it got confusing. Interesting story though. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

I Want To Read That said...

Oh it's a shame you didn't love it as much as you wanted to - I hate it when that happens! Thanks for the review - it does sound interesting!

Luisa at Chicklish said...

It sounds fascinating, and thanks for the great review, though I'm sorry it didn't work for you 100%.

LovesSam said...

I don't know what it is about this book, but it just doesn't appeal to me as a reader, maybe its the cover, but it just won't click with me. Great review

Christina/Book Addict said...

Great review. I love the cover of this book. I'm sorry you didn't like it as much as you had hoped.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Great review!

Melissa said...

Brilliant review...it sounded good, but maybe I'll push it back on my TBR pile :)

The Book Bug said...

Awesome review! I love the cover too. Its really pretty.

Lauren said...

I love how honest your reviews are. I really like the premise of this one, but I totally relate to that feeling where you just can't click with a book. Sorry you didn't this time round.

Lauren said...

This sounds like a great read, though I loathe it when plots moves slowly. So I'm not sure if I'll give it the chance if I'm ever given the chance to.

Sarah said...

Thanks for the honest review - I love the sound of this one. I think it would be quite interesting to read so I might give it a go sometime but I'll probably try it from the library & see how I get on :o)

choco (In Which a Girl Reads) said...

Wow, the premise is AMAZING, (even with vampires--usually I wouldn't pick up an vampire book but this one sounds different). But awesome, honest reiview--I think I'll hold off of this one even if it does have an awesome premise :D

IceJewel said...

very honest review :)
I don't think I would go for this one :( lots of chance that I might get bored !