Written by Clay and Susan Griffith
Release Date: November 18, 2010
Publisher: Pyr (an imprint of Prometheus Books)
ARC provided for review by the publisher. Thank You!!!
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Summary (Courtesy of Barnes and Noble):
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I really dug the dystopian-steampunk elements of the story, and the characters were memorable in every way. I found myself ready for the sequel before I even finished the story. Full review after the jump. WARNING: SPOILERS!!!
Initially, I had low expectations for this book. Another vampire book? Seriously? I was turned off by the cover art, which didn't properly portray the steampunk vampire look it was going for. If anything, it looked like 90's goth dress, at least on the woman. So I wasn't expecting to be as into this book as I was. But boy, was I into this book.
As you all know, I've fallen in love with all things steampunk. Love love LOVE steampunk stuff! So when I started reading about gas balloon powered air ships and purveyors of steam and coal, I got all giddy. The alternate universe that The Greyfriar is set in relies fully on the power and machinery created in the Victorian era because of the huge vampire attack that took place in said era. I can't tell you how happy it made me to read this type of setting in the book. That alone was enough to keep me going.
There is much less of the strangely-seductive vampire legend stuff and a lot more barbarian humanity in the vampires of this story. The vampire people allied long enough to take control of most of the northern hemisphere of the planet, driving the surviving humans south to fight amongst themselves for territory and power. The vampires are appropriately creepy when necessary, especially the heartless Cesare and his bloody war chief Flay. The Griffiths have crafted an amazing network of empires and lives that cross effortlessly in the story. The only vampire that even slightly resembled the popular incarnation of vamps in YA novels was Prince Gareth/the Greyfriar. He is the heir to the entire vampire kingdom, and he dresses up like a human and fights his own kind to protect the people he originally helped to enslave and drive out. He hates the gluttony and complacency his people have taken on, and he feels sympathy toward the humans. Never mind that he's apparently super hot and falls in love with the human princess he can never have. That hasn't been done before...
Princess Adele was exactly the kind of heroine I love to see in a story like this. She's no lilting flower. She's tough, defiant, brave and willing to fight for what she believes in. She's smart, open-minded and gracious as well. She didn't take anyone's crap, but she wasn't stupid about it. She could fight, which was really awesome. And she's powerful, in more ways than one. I totally loved her character and I can't wait to see more of her in this series.
So a few elements of the story are a little overused. Other themes of the story help to displace any boredom with the "vampire with a heart of gold" bits. The racism, politics, action and adventure will keep you immersed in the story, even if you are tired of vampire books.