cover image Empire of the Vampire

Empire of the Vampire

Jay Kristoff. St. Martin’s, $29.99 (752p) ISBN 978-1-250-24528-1

A rancorous antihero narrates a chilling tale of revenge in this unfocused dark fantasy from Kristoff (Aurora Burning). Gabriel de León is the Last of the Silversaints, a devout brotherhood of half-vampires, half-humans who have sworn their lives to the Church in defense against the coldbloods, or full-blooded vampires, who have hunted their lands for decades. After the coldbloods arrest Gabriel for crimes against them, their ruler, the Undying Empress, sends her historian to chronicle his life before his execution. Gabriel offers an acrimonious recollection of how he earned his reputation as “the most fearsome swordsman who ever lived” and why he abandoned his faith to devote himself to killing the Forever King, the coldblood who set him on a monstrous path for vengeance. But despite his blackhearted hatred, there’s one thing that gives Gabriel pause in his relentless quest for revenge—the crusade for the Holy Grail, which represents the last hope for men. Kristoff’s multifaceted exploration of morality is enticing and complex, but the narrative misses the mark with unsteady pacing and a proliferation of melodrama. There’s enough action and bloodshed here to please Kristoff’s diehard fans, but the choppy storytelling make this one to skip for more casual readers. Agent: John Adams, Adams Literary. (Sept.)