This mighty fine novel is the second instalment in the Church Mouse saga and I’m very pleased to say it is right up there with its predecessor on the excellence scale. I really enjoyed the first book, Church Mouse; Memoir of a Vampire’s Servant, and you can read my thoughts on this beast right here.
I suppose I should point out that as this book is a sequel there will be spoilers relating to the first, so if you haven’t read that one yet it’s probably best to stop reading this and get involved in that one. It really is amazing.
Anyway, if you’re still reading now you’ve either already read the first book; don’t plan on reading it; or have such a sieve of a memory that you will forget details I’m about to divulge. Either way, spoiler warnings end right here.
The first novel centred around Rona, a lady with nothing and no one in her life who winds up being a ‘watchdog’ for a trio of vampires living in the vaults of a spooky old church.
So, Book 2. Well, as is kind of suggested in the title, this is the book where Rona joins their vampiric brotherhood; fangs and all.
Written in the form of diary entries, we follow Rona on her journey from pre-vampire anxiousness, to turning, to learning the trade, to hunting and feeding.
The attention to detail is great. Yes, portions of the narrative are long and provide lots and lots of information on how Rona’s feeling and what she’s been up to, but none of it feels like filler. This book is a long one, but there’s never a feeling that any part of it could have cut. It all adds to the real feeling of Rona becoming one of her new family. It’s certainly not an easy change, I can tell you!
Of course, as she first changes, things are a little strange to say the least. She has to come to terms with an immense hunger, the appearance and agonising pain of her new fangs, and her no longer being the puny human in this team of vampires.
She learns to hunt and to effectively and stealthily dispatch her prey; she’s learning from the best, of course.
As the novel progresses, characters from the first book make a reappearance. Suddenly Rona is part of a world of ‘beasts’ but still holds on to her previous humanity; something that is subtlety handled with her innermost thoughts projected into her diary, who she speaks to as though it is human.
This is not just another vampire story, though. Some of the violence, death, and gore described here is stomach-churningly awesome, and had me wincing on many occasions. The 3 vamps from the first novel are here in all their glory, especially Serge, the leader, who is certainly my favourite character in these two books.
Rona’s love/hate relationship with Serge is so well-delivered. Sometimes he’s a vicious bastard with no empathy, other times he comes across as a kind and caring almost-parent figure. This is certainly not because Hale lost sight of the character’s personality; on the contrary. These apparent mood swings only add to Serge’s intriguing and fascinating character.
He’s such a badass!
Even after the first few chapters, I knew I was going to be scoring this book maximum stars. It would have take something major to have put me off. And something very nearly did. When werewolves were introduced I did fear that things may have gone downhill a little. But alas, I should never have worried.
The werewolves don’t become an essential plot point, or even appear to be there to appease the monster-lovers. These beasts just add more mystery and suffering to an already terrifying world that hides beneath the surface and senses of us mere mortals. The werewolves here don’t even follow the familiar tropes, which was great and refreshing.
If you’re a fan of the first book then there’s no doubt you’ll be enjoying this one, too. We learn more about our favourite characters, despise some truly horrible baddies, and follow Rona as she changes physical, and finally emotionally into her new calling in life.
Although Rona ‘changes’ very early on, the whole novel is a change for her, as details and events in Vampie World really begin to manifest in her existence. She’s still clinging on to being Rona, but for how long?
‘Epic’ is a term that’s thrown around a lot, and is mostly unwarranted, but here I think the term fits perfectly. When Rona is vampired, her experience is pure nightmare fuel. It’s as though she’s going insane, such is the vivid imagery that is displayed.
I usually sum up here and advise fans of whatever genre the book I’m reviewing comes under, to check it out. But any fan of horror will get enjoyment out of this. It’s gory, violent, sad, and heartfelt all at the same time.
Bring on Book 3!!
Categories: book review