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.
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.