When I am reading other people’s blogs and deciding which books I want to put on my list to read later on, I have started the habit of writing down what it is about their description of the book that attracted me. That way, when I am on the library computer examining this book blog to see what I want to read next, I can choose what sort of book I am in the mood to read. And what I wrote for this one was “a guilt-ridden ex-priest vampire in Victorian London!” which is totally not the point at all. I read it about it on Jeane’s blog, and she made it sound lovely – I know I have said unfriendly things about a number of vampire books, but truly and honestly, I love, love, love a good vampire story.
This book is set in Edwardian London, almost just as good as Victorian. (Or possibly by this time Edward was dead – I once memorized a little pome of all the British monarchs, and I feel like part of it went “Edward the Seventh next and then / George the Fifth in 1910”.) An ex-spy-turned-Oxford-professor called James Asher (he won’t be ex for long, if you ask me, with World War I looming closer) comes home one night to find his wife unconscious and a vampire sitting in his bedroom with a proposition. Someone has been killing the vampires of London. If Asher agrees to help find the killer, the vampires won’t kill him and his wife. After a brief argument about how this situation differs from being a spy for Britain (and I don’t think the vampire’s points are valid), Asher agrees to do this. There is a guilt-ridden ex-priest vampire, but he’s not the main feature.
I was actually in the middle (well, at the start) of reading two other books, Jump at the Sun and The Meaning of Night, but I realized that I’d had this one for a while and it was going to be due soon, so I ditched those and read this instead. I’m so pleased that I did. I’d been putting it off because of the cover on the library copy, because yes, I do judge books by their cover, and I just cannot make myself believe that there is anybody in the world who doesn’t. For instance, I would read any book in the world if Dave McKean had done the cover for it.
This book was very enjoyable. It’s a slightly different take on vampires to what a lot of people go with, and had a lot of theorizing about vampirism as a disease transmitted through the blood, which was interesting. As it’s a mystery, I wasn’t entirely pleased with the outcome. It’s the old thing about putting the gun on page one if someone uses it on page thirteen – it’s not that I didn’t get any clues about who the real killer was, but when I read the end I was like “That’s the killer? Who even is that?” Not enough clues. Or not even clues – the real killer (is this spoilers?) doesn’t get enough screen time before the big reveal.
Still, I liked the book. I may read the second one. I may read others of her books. Those Who Hunt the Night was exactly what I was in the mood for. Thanks, Jeane!
P.S. Having brought up English monarchs, I just have to brag for a second here. I do indeed know all the British monarchs in order from William the Conqueror. I learned them before I went to England because I didn’t want to be The Dumb American Girl. And sometimes when everyone in our flat went out, and I would get back very drunk, I would lie in bed repeating them to myself as an assurance that I wasn’t that drunk. I still remember them all. I have modified the accepted order of monarchs to include the Empress Matilda, Louis of France, and Lady Jane Grey – all proclaimed but never crowned. It’s not really fair for them to be left out. Edwards Five and Eight weren’t crowned either, and they never get left out. Probably because they are dudes. And not embarrassing reminders of how one of the English kings was so rotten they had to ask a French king to please come and rule them instead.