Wednesday, January 06, 2016

The Matriarch: Changeling – review

Author: Kevin A Ranson

Published: 2015

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: "Throughout American history, every major conflict has been due to either a misunderstanding between parties or a failure to live up to a promise – and needless bloodshed was always the result."

And bloodshed was something with which Janiss Connelly was all too familiar, either by her own or someone else’s hand. Friends. Lovers. Enemies. But as the administrator of Cedarcrest Sanctum, it was a necessary evil: keeping the facility’s residents safe – and, thanks to infusions of her vampiric blood, alive – was both her responsibility and mission.

It is a mission that is jeopardized by a very old – and private – vampire living and working as a college professor in Charleston, West Virginia. Janiss visits to determine her undead "neighbor’s" true intentions, only to find that she and Cedarcrest are on the professor’s "syllabus." Left with no choice, the administrator must become the student and ask her own hated teacher for the deadly tutelage she needs to rescue the Sanctum.

In The Matriarch: Changeling, Janiss will learn that friends and enemies are never who they seem to be – a lesson that must be paid in blood.

The review: So, this is the third Matriarch novel and the reviews for the earlier volumes can be found here and here. As mentioned in those reviews, author Kevin A Ranson is a Facebook friend and the books were provided for review.

I mentioned in those previous reviews that I enjoyed the small scale of the books and, once more, whilst the vista stretched there wasn’t too much of a widening of horizons, an intimate feel was maintained. I enquired of the author why these vampires, fairly close in proximity, seemed unaware of each other (not necessarily the case in this volume) and part of the reason for this is because the State the books are set in, West Virginia, is somewhat isolated with mountainous areas.

I don’t want to spoil the story in this volume but wish to examine some of the new lore we are introduced to. In this we discover that vampires can make themselves younger and change their appearance, by will, but it is a long drawn out process. Nancy, the newly introduced vampire, has also developed her influence, so far portrayed as a line of sight ability, by projecting it telepathically and en masse. We discover that there are certain humans naturally immune to such influence.

Previously the author introduced staking as a way of paralysing and holding a vampire. In this we discover that should the stake penetrate the body and pierce the earth it brings a sense of tranquillity to the vampire and a sleep of pure bliss. This makes for an interesting situation where the vampire might actually choose to be staked (so long as they trusted the one with the stake).

As we see the widening horizon we get a taste of the Government interest in vampires and also discover that they were created (originally) as a supernatural weapon.

The writing is as strong as previous volumes, the story an examination of trust – or lack thereof – and the quote opening the blurb sums that up nicely. To be fair, the only part of this that disappointed was the message at the end that suggested that, whilst Janiss would be back in one more volume, it would be a final time. 8 out of 10.

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