Sunday, September 01, 2019

The Silver Dagger: The Vampires of Crimson Cove Book 2 – review

Author: Alistair Cross

First published: 2019

Contains spoilers

The blurb: Brother Against Brother

Life in Crimson Cove has been good to the Colter Brothers since Gretchen VanTreese was staked and her horde of vampires scattered. Brooks is once again human, and Cade, the rare Sire Gretchen had determined to take as her mate, is in love. Then the unthinkable happens: Gretchen rises from the grave, and the brothers are torn apart, their lives - and the peace between them - shattered.

A Trail of Blood

When Cade comes into possession of an ancient ceremonial dagger he awakens a power so deadly it defies comprehension. Meanwhile, a serial killer is stalking the little mountain town, leaving a trail of blood that leads to a truth Sheriff Ethan Hunter doesn’t want to face. And unknown to either of them, Gretchen is preparing to reopen her notorious nightclub, The Crimson Corset - and building an army to destroy her enemies and reclaim Cade Colter as her own.

A New Breed of Evil

The streets are no longer safe, nor are the forested paths, for a new and unknowable evil has come to Crimson Cove and everyone - vampire and human alike - must come together in order to survive.

The review: I reviewed the first book in this series here and found it to be a solid vampire novel, a dark urban fantasy “with a splattering of kinky sex and quite a bit of gore”. This book eschews much of the sexual content and the gore is perhaps less explicit as Cross concentrates on his characters – especially Cade Colter.

So, at the end of the first book Cade, a sire – someone with the very rare ability to impregnate a vampire, was saved from the evil vampire Gretchen VanTreese when she was captured and staked (which makes the vampires inanimate in this) and then dropped, in her coffin, into a lake. This left him and Samantha his girlfriend (who is susceptible to vampiric attack as her blood type is particularly appealing) open to get on with their lives. It also freed his brother Brooks, who had been turned by Gretchen but, as he had not fed, reverted back to human when she was staked.

However, as the book starts a year on, Michael (leader of the moderate vampire faction) is away on business and vampires loyal to Gretchen retrieve her coffin and un-stake her – starting the slow process of regenerating her. Brooks reverts back to vampirism and, due to her appealing scent and his bloodlust, murders Samantha – running off in horror when he comes to his senses.

The main thrust of the book then follows Cade as he falls apart psychologically and physically – which is really well drawn. Within this, various threads are weaved; of the sheriff’s ex-wife, of a vampiric serial killer hitting the town rather publicly (in crimes that are officially described as bear attacks), of Gretchen’s recovery, and of brief moments with a new evil who is searching for a silver dagger Cade has bought. Cross slows the pace down from the first novel as he lets his prose explore Cade’s pain and this shifting of gear works very well indeed.

Lore was established in the first book and I cover that in the previous review. In this we see the impact of turning – the burning hunger and the point of no return once human blood has been consumed, the fact that reanimating a vampire will reawaken the vampirism of a person who has reverted to human, and what a loss of control will do to a vampire whether newly turned or older. There is an expansion of the lore, which is rather interesting, around the idea that the turned vampire retains (rather than loses) their soul. Connected with this is the idea that a corpse can be reanimated – even after a prolonged period in the grave – with enough venom, but the resultant creature will be a ghoul; soulless, almost mindless, driven by insatiable hunger and able to mortally wound vampires.

The writing was as strong in this as the first book and, as mentioned, the plot focus worked very much in its favour. 7.5 out of 10.

In Paperback @ Amazon US

In Paperback @ Amazon UK

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