You may know Crepsley from the Saga of Darren Shan (review coming one day). This is the point-the entire series is his backstory. However you don’t need to have read the Saga of Darren Shan to understand this, but it would be good if you do.
We open with Larten Crepsley, the red-headed vampire and the hero of the book, showing off at a pub. He then goes to a battlefield with some other vampires, and one of the vampires gets killed in a fight. Skip a few years. He goes to meet Evanna, the Lady of the Wilds, and meets Arra Sails, a familiar face from the Saga of Darren Shan (here-after known as SDS). Skip a few years. He goes to Vampire Mountain and spends time there. Skip a few years. And so on throughout the book.
I like the idea for the whole of the series-reveal the backstory of a character from a fairly popular series in detail as opposed to the little hints we got here and then. The way Ocean of Blood is worked into the SDS, or should it be the other way round, I don’t know, but the little references to SDS were really interesting as you would just think “oh, now I know what was meant by that”.
The little romance in it, both with the ill fated Malora and, as readers of SDS will know, Arra Sails, works well. I never really thought of Darren Shan as someone who could write in romance, but he did it here. The writing style was very simple and easy to get on with. The language wasn’t too simple or too complex and kept the story going along well. The dialogue was good, it worked well and suited each character. I’m slightly surprised that the series is in the third person. I’m not sure it lets us connect with the characters quite as well, and considering this is a spin off to SDS, which was in the first person, it is a little odd. But it does make the story work. Sort of.
I quite like the way Darren Shan worked in a real famous person. Bram Stoker. I’m not sure how many readers will get that it’s Bram Stoker or whether they’ll notice before they’re told, or even if they’ll know who he is, but for someone like me, who read and enjoyed Dracula, the idea of the author visiting a vampire and “researching” is just very funny.
The time skips between the parts were a little hard to follow. They all jumped irregular amounts, which I understand, but we didn’t get a good feel for where we were in history after the time skips. I got my bearings with Bram Stoker, but apart from that, all I got from the time-zones was “its a random part in history. I’m not sure where, so I’m going to imagine something and hope it’s what the author meant us to imagine.” The bit on the pirate ship, near the end is very good. It shows different sides of Crepsley, and is the most interesting, possibly because its the most action packed, part of the book.
Overall: Strength 3 tea to a good continuation to an interesting take on vampires and life as one.