Genre: horror, sff
Setting: 1900s, London
Rated : 8 Stars
But even before the shadows of the stairwell swallowed the last echoes of his wife's name, James Asher knew something was desperately wrong.
A James Asher book #1, also published as Immortal Blood
James Asher, retired spy and scholar, comes home one day to find a vampire in his house. A vampire who has his entire household asleep, and under threat. For if Asher does not hunt down whoever, or whatever, is killing the vampires of London then Asher will die, as will his family.
The vampire Ysidro believe their attacker is acting in the daylight, and so he is are forced to turn to a human for help, against all their rules and beliefs.
I can’t remember exactly why I picked this one up. I know it was recommended on some blog or another, but where that was, and in connection with what? I’m at a loss. I’ll have to start noting down where I get these recommendations from so that if I enjoy the book I can look to them for more.
And in this case I really did enjoy the book.
Asher, our hero, is a disillusioned spy1 and he left the Great Game after one too many dirty deeds. He retreated back into the life that used to be his cover, of sorts, academia. He is a linguist and his donnish ways meant that when he was spying he was never suspected. But his background in spying is exactly why the vampires want his assistance.
Once Ysidro has left Asher tells his wife everything that happened. And wasn’t that such a relief! I was so worried it was going to be another of those books where the husband goes off to “protect” the wife by keeping her in the dark about real life and so get her into further danger through ignorance2 but Lydia, his wife, has skills of her own. She, although facing great resistance from all around her, studied medicine and is now a researcher in that field.
And she has a mind of her own. And an intelligence that her husband respects and loves. I wish that weren’t something to remark upon, but it is. And I liked it :)
This book first came out in the 1980s so t=don’t worry about any sort of Twilight-esque vampire here, they even state that there is no sec between vampires, although some do like to entrap humans by playing the game. The vampires here must kill to live, they can live off animals for a short while, but it turns them stupid and liable to be caught out in the sun and killed. There is a psychic aspect to their killing, and to their hunting. They can persuade people to look away and ignore them, or to come close and do as they are bid. They are strong and fast, they are immortal, but they can be killed. They have their vulnerabilities.
I have to say that I really enjoyed this book, I think because Hambly writes characters so well, Asher could very easly have been almost a stereotype but I never found him so. And even the vampires have their nuances. Some have obviously serious questions about their life, but the will to survive is a strong one. It is that that makes a vampire live at the moment of turning. If you do not desire and fight for life you will not survive. However, the writing was a little convoluted for me, at least until I got used to the style of it. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but I think that I will be looking for other book about James Asher and the vampires of London.