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Monday, 13 December 2010

Guest Review: Bloodline

Author: Kate Cary

Release date: 4th October 2010 UK
Genre: vampire fiction/historical fiction
Target audience: 12+
UK Publisher: Egmont Books

Thirty-five years have passed since the death of the Master. But now a new evil walks among the living. . . . When nineteen-year-old John Shaw returns from the trenches of World War I, he is haunted by nightmares-not only of the battlefield, but of the strange, cruel and impossible feats of his regiment's commander, Quincey Harker. Harker's ferocity knows no limits, and his strength is superhuman. At first John blames his bloody nightmares on trench fever. But when Harker appears in England and begins wooing John's sister, John must confront the truth-and stop Harker from continuing Dracula's bloodline.

Irena’s Review:

Bloodline is the first novel in a series that is a sequel to the famous novel by Bram Stoker, Dracula.

The story of the vampire Dracula ended in Stoker's novel - or perhaps not entirely, for Dracula did not leave this world without a powerful heritage in the form of his blood-thirsty progeny and they want to make the House of Dracula invincible once more.

Thirty-five years after the death of Dracula, Europe is engaged in the first world war and Mary Seward, the only child of Dr Seward, who is an important character in the original novel, is a nurse at the Purfleet Sanatorium, now a hospital for wounded soldiers. A soldier, John Shaw, is brought to her care and in him she recognises the neighbour boy from Carfax Abbey, now a grown man suffering from the trench fever. John Shaw speaks and does strange things due to this fever and in order to help him, Mary reads his journal that reveals great horrors comitted by John's superior, Captain Quincey Harker, the son of Mina and Jonathan Harker, who are also important characters from the original novel. When John recovers, an affection develops between him and Mary, but it is marred by the arrival of Quincey Harker to England and his wooing John's innocent younger sister, Lily.

When Lily, blindly enamoured of Quincey Harker, does a reckless thing for the sake of love, Mary and John learn the truth about Captain Harker from Mary's elderly father. Shocked by the truth, yet eager to save Lily, Mary and John embark on a dangerous journey, their one goal to face and destroy the vampires belonging to the bloodline of Dracula.

There are parallels between the original novel and this story, reminding the reader about what happened, yet taking a fresh approach to the timeless story about Dracula and those who fought to defeat him. Mary Seward and John Shaw are placed in the positions of Mina and Jonathan Harker, yet they face a greater danger, especially John, because evil is closer than they might have imagined. Mary is a strong, determined heroine. Although a bit too nosy for my taste, she possesses the ability to distinguish clearly between right and wrong. She has an instinct to recognise evil and is not blinded by it. I liked her independent spirit and determination very much. John, on the other hand, is much more pliable, which is also one his greatest deficits. He is a brave young man and a good soldier, but his determination is much weaker than Mary's. Lily, his younger sister, is an innocent and pure-hearted woman who is both sweet and able to burn with passion. I found her to be a very intriguing character. What she does in the end surprised me, but I cannot blame her because she acted very bravely, showing that true purity and innocence override any evil.

Then, there is the enigmatic Captain Quincey Harker, the villain of this story. Strangely, he is my favourite character of this novel because he is very multi-dimensional. He is evil and appreciates what he is, yet there is still a brooding quality about him and a certain vulnerability that make him intriguing.

I very much enjoyed the setting of the novel. It takes place during the first world war and the author's descriptions of the trenches were quite scary, yet realistic. I must also compliment the author on creating a very appropriate atmosphere for a vampire novel. It is a homage to Stoker. Cary also followed Stoker's way of narration, as this novel is written in the form of journal entries, letters and newspaper articles.

The story was very interesting and it read fast, but I am not without complaints. I felt that there was not enough character development in general and events, especially the ending, were too rushed, so consequently they lack a certain depth. Mary and John accept the truth about vampires too fast and John undergoes a colossal change that is not explained well enough. The final part that takes place in Transylvania was very tense, but it all happened - and ended - a bit too fast.

My two other complaints refer to the vampires in the story. One thing that bothered me is the ability of vampires to procreate. I suppose there is something intriguing about dhampirs, but the progeny of Dracula were normal humans at first and became vampires only once they were bitten. That, to me, made no sense, I'm afraid. The other thing that bothered me was a massive change in the personality of a character from the original novel. SPOILER: Mina Harker had a child by Dracula's son, Count Tepes - the child is Quincey Harker - and after Jonathan died, Mina married the father of her child and became a lusty, seductive, blood-thirsty vampire herself. This is too much against Mina's character, so I cannot accept it. END OF SPOILER. I would like to know how vampires can procreate, but this was never explained; I missed this piece of information and would have liked to see it used in the novel.

Despite my complaints, however, I enjoyed reading this novel very much and the way the story ended promises a very intense sequel that I will definitely seek to read. Bloodline is an interesting, bloody sequel to Bram Stoker's Dracula and fans of the original, as well as of vampire literature in general, may find this novel to be a very enjoyable and dramatic read with some surprising revelations.

Becky says: Wow, what an in depth review Irena. I think you are the perfect person to read it critically with your knowledge of gothic literature. The novel sounds complex and very much set within the historical period. But it is a shame about the ending. I feel like I know so much more about Dracula now because I haven’t read it. I’m intrigued.

Both our thanks go to Egmont Books for sending the book for review.


Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

Despite my complaints, this was a great vampire/gothic novel and I intend to read the sequel, so yes, I liked the book.:)

Thanks, Becky, I'm glad you liked the review!

Thank you for sending me the book to review!

I usually don't mention covers in my reviews, but I like this one. The pale colours fit the whole eerie, vampire scene and the cover with the (dead or undead?) woman is delightfully creepy, I think.

Blodeuedd said...

Nice review, and hihi of course I read that spoiler! I cannot stop myself

Pepca said...

Great review! I really captured my interest with all the information you give, it sounds just the thing I'd like to read. Also, I like how you tell a lot about the book but still leave a lot of room for the reader to be surprised.

Lauren said...

I really enjoyed all the detail in this review. I've only seen the movie of Dracula and haven't read the original book, and having peeked at that spoiler I think maybe I'd enjoy this one all the more because I haven't got anything to compare it to.

Kat said...

I'm a huge fan of the original Dracula novel, so I scoffed a little when I read that vampires can procreate in this book. And I don't think Mina would go dark with Dracula's son like that, either. Still, this sounds like a fun read. Thanks for the intricate review. :)