Author: Jay Kristoff Publisher: HarperVoyager
Before reading this novel, I had seen a lot of hype for this book and I am glad to say that I was not let down in the slightest. Vampires are a group of creatures that I feel are done to death, being used as the go to evil creature throughout all forms of media and they have been done in nearly every way possible. It was a delight to see that Kristoff has managed to find a slightly new twist for the night stalkers, creating a half-breed which brought my brain to the likes of Blade.
Empire of the Vampire follows one character throughout novel – a paleblood who has a huge attitude, De Leon is arrogant yet kind, abrupt yet thoughtful; he is a character who doesn’t ever get to see the good side of life or if he ever does, it is always stolen from him in a instant. De Leon is what I would describe as a grey character – he is neither pure good or evil, but floats between the two sides throughout the entirety of the novel. I very much enjoyed his character, finding him enticing throughout. His sharp wit mix with his blunt attitude made for some engaging conversation with the other characters in the book. I actually found all the characters within this book interesting, each having their own personalities and impact on the story. Some novels don’t make use of all their characters well or introduce a wealth of characters that are never really used but I feel Kristoff has done an excellent job balancing his cast out.
The story itself is told within three different time POVs – one from De Leon’s start to the story, a second from the past but a number of years in the future and finally present day. I really enjoyed De Leon’s origin story and I thought it introduced the idea of palebloods in a steady manor whilst allowing you to get to know who De Leon is as a person. The main story is told within the second POV, but the third POV is where I have my issue. The third POV is De Leon being questioned by an unknown Vampire but only really in minor conversations between the two character. After completing the novel, I felt this made the story feel clumsy at times. The awkward transitions between time periods interrupted the flow within the story somewhat for myself without an gain for the reader. This story could have easily been told through the first two POVS in my opinion and reached the same story moments.
The story is told within France or at least a fantasy world based on France – taking advantage of the language and greetings. I enjoyed this context, it made the world seem oddly richer knowing it had culture within but it was an adjustment at first, especially as someone who is not an expert in any measurable way in languages. The world is furthered within this world through religion – the palebloods believe they are doing blessed work by riding the world of the Vampires which have dominated both night and day. To further the twist on the vampire formula, is how the palebloods functioned within the world. Depending on the family in which the vampire belonged to, the paleblood would inherit their given power – making the various palebloods different from one another and giving them an edge in which to defeat their evil cousins.
The biggest flaw with this novel for myself, and I know that this is sometimes a positive for other readers, was the length of the novel. This novel is over 700 pages and at times you could feel it. There were moments within the beginning and the middle that felt a little unnecessary or were repetitive without adding to the story or the lore building. I find this with most novels that I read which break the 500 page mark and unfortunately Empire of the Vampire is no exception. It isn’t by no means something that would prevent me enjoying this fantastic novel but a little chopping down would have added to pacing of the novel.
Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and it was a brilliant way to end my reading year. If you haven’t read this yet then I would highly recommend you read this – especially if you would like a different spin on the played out vampire genre.