Blood Dragons is the first book in the Rebel Vampires series by the British author Rosemary A Johns. It’s a fantastic read and I’m now looking forward to the second book, Blood Shackles, that is coming out in November.
My rating: five stars.
Light is a rebel rocker vampire with a studded leather jacket who rides a Triton motorbike. And boy, does he have attitude! In his call-a-spade-a-spade way of talking, he debunks a couple of vampire myths straight off the bat: Holy water, entry by invitation only and crucifixes – all “bollocks” apparently. Fair enough.
But aficionados of vampire fiction will be pleased to know that Light doesn’t sparkle in the sun.
There are two women in Light’s life. Ruby is a sexy Elizabethan red-head who elected Light into the Blood Life in the mid nineteenth century She remembers the Inquisition from the first time round and isn’t afraid to employ some of its methods. Kathy is a free-spirited singer from Yorkshire who has escaped to 1960’s swinging London and is enjoying life to the full.
From the docks of Victorian London to the vibrant life of Carnaby Street, the sensuous settings provide the perfect backdrop to the colourful characters.
The story opens in the present day when Kathy, now an old woman, is dying from dementia. Light tells her their story in an effort to help her remember. He also admits to things that he’s never told anyone before. The themes of the book are love, memory and redemption. The story explores deep human emotions with insight and wry observation.
What makes this book so exceptional is the quality of the writing.
The story is narrated in the first-person by Light. Rosemary Johns has created a voice for him that effortlessly blends the colloquial with the literary and the poignant. The author handles voices particularly well. Ruby, being Elizabethan, occasionally uses words like “prithee” whilst Kathy’s father talks in a strong Yorkshire dialect as if he’d just stepped out of the pages of The Secret Garden.
The pacing is also spot on.
For a story dealing with memory and redemption, there is never a sense that Light is merely navel gazing. The narrative has a strong forward momentum and there are plenty of dramatic action scenes.
Ultimately, it’s the character of Light that makes this novel so compelling and makes me want to read more in the series. He’s is a bit of a cynic, but he’s also tender and passionate with a self-deprecating sense of humour. He might be a vampire but he has a strong moral code.
If I was going to fall in love with a vampire, it would have to be Light.
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