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Monday, 7 November 2011

Irena's Review: Crusade: The Cursed Ones

Author: Nancy Holder and Debbie Vigue

Release date: 3rd February 2011
Genre: Vampire Fiction/ Paranormal / YA
Target audience: 12+
UK Publisher: Simon Pulse

For the past two years, Jenn has lived and trained at Spain's Sacred Heart Academy Against the Cursed Ones. She is among the few who have pledged to defend humanity or die trying. But the vampires are gaining power, and the battle has only just begun. Forced to return home after death takes a member of her family, Jenn discovers that San Francisco is now a vampire strong-hold. As a lone hunter apart from her team, Jenn is isolated - and at risk. She craves the company of her fighting partner, Antonio: his protection, his reassurance, his touch. But a relationship with Antonio comes with its own dangers, and the more they share of themselves, the more Jenn stands to lose. Then Jenn is betrayed by one who was once bound to protect her, causing her to doubt all she had held as true. To survive, Jenn must find the courage to trust herself - and her heart.

Crusade: The Cursed Ones is an exciting, action-packed story about humans trying to survive in a world that has been overtaken by vampires. Some humans choose to follow the vampires, but there are some who choose to fight them and one such group of people involves a peculiar team of vampire slayers from Spain, where there is an academy specifically to educate and train such outstanding and brave individuals.

Fans of classical vampires will surely be delighted by this novel, as the vampires present in it, with only a few rare exceptions, are openly bloodthirsty, ruthless, vicious and cruel. They have no humanity, for they are immortal monsters, well aware of the fact. The vampires have set up a new form of tyranny that resembles past forms of tyranny in human history. To survive, humanity must adapt, but that is no guarantee, so - reluctantly - the human world must rely on hunters to save them.

The main characters of the novel belong to an elite team of hunters. Jenn, the protagonist, is an American teenager who desperately wants to leave her mark, but she doubts herself constantly and never feels she is good enough to belong to the team of hunters. She is on a mission to save her sister before a powerful vampire turns her into one of their own. Antonio is a "good" vampire. Turned while he was training to be a priest, his soul remains uncorrupted and the reason for it remains a mystery so far. He is involved with Jenn romantically, but their relationship is far from comfortable. Eriko, a Japanese girl, is the Hunter, the one who leads the team and inherits mystical powers. Jamie, a hot-headed Irishman, hater of anything supernatural, often provides the team with tension, but he is unwavering on the path to their goal. Holgar, a Danish werewolf, is nice, incredibly patient and strong. And finally, there is Skye, a quite powerful English Wiccan witch with her own dark secret that threatens to bite back.

I truly enjoyed the action. It was well written, intense and did not spare anyone, as blood-thirsty vampires do not spare humans. I was often on the edge of my seat, but also extremely satisfied by the way things turned out for certain humans and vampires. It somehow all seemed realistic. Life is unpredictable and happy endings are not a guarantee, which is exactly the tone of the novel. The world taken over by vampires was well written and outlined, and it did have the claustrophobic feel of an impending apocalypse. The way the novel ended definitely promises a very exciting and suspenseful sequel. Things are not entirely resolved; instead, the plot only thickens.

I did, however, have a few issues with the novel, and they mostly relate to the characters and their relationships. As much as the action was fun, I have to confess that, most times, I did not care very much about most of the characters, as they are, all in all, quite one-dimensional and at times even annoying. This may well change in the sequel, as major changes are at hand, but for now, they are not overly impressive. For example, Jenn's and Antonio's relationship has no basis and for the most part, it seems they are more miserable together than not (for reasons I cannot reveal in this review). Some character qualities are overly stressed, and some downplayed.

I hope that changes in the sequel, as all in all, Crusade: The Cursed Ones is an entertaining vampire novel with lots of action. It is a good read for fans of blood-thirsty vampire fiction.

Becky says: Irena this one sounds like a full-throttle vampire novel with lots of blood-thirsty characters. It’s a shame that you didn’t connect to them as much as you’d have liked but I can’t say I find that surprising when they’ve got their fans out and are ravishing us mere humans. Great review.
Thanks to Simon and Schuster for sending the book to review.

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