Thursday, April 15, 2021

Occupation (Book I in the Occupation Series) – review

Author: Jeff Dawson

First published: 2011

Contains spoilers

The blurb: Are you ready for vampires to regain their standing and stop sparkling in the twilight? Are you ready for them to take on an opponent more vile, viscous and evil than themselves?

Wait no longer! These are the vampires that filled many nightmares of old. Meet the Romanov and Boirarsky clans. They have waged a war amongst themselves for centuries over feeding rights and inconsequential issues.

All of that changes when Adolf Hitler decides to expand the Third Reich and invades Poland in 1939. The Germans start shipping off their food supply to distant lands. The clans are unwillingly forced to decide if they are going to continue with their fruitless battle or combine their collective forces and take on an opponent worth of their sharpened fangs: The Third Reich!

Vampires versus the Third Reich. Evil never tasted so good. Get a copy today and choose a side!

The review: Jeff Dawson supplied an e-version of this novel, the first in a series, for review and I am a tad torn. The basic premise is very good, I like the idea of centuries old vampire clans suddenly faced with a human evil much worse than they – and so setting the book in occupied Poland at the start of the second world war, and embedding it with the atrocities committed was the framework for an intriguing novel.

I also liked the way he portrayed vampirism. These are day walking vampires. They have hollow cuspids that they suck the blood through and, if turning an individual, using them to force blood back into the victim's system. If they lose their fangs then they cannot feed and will die (I would have liked a little more on what happens to the blood they suck through the fangs, it sounds like it goes straight into the circulatory system). They can feed from dead blood as much as living blood and one of the clans have a bacteriological infection they carry, which means they can turn someone, make them obedient but makes the victim die gruesomely (eyes and brains melting in the head) after three months. They seem slightly stronger than a human but can transform into a monstrous form, in which they are much stronger and their skin becomes much tougher. The standard way to kill is by stake to the heart.

Another interesting aspect was within their mating, which could easily lead to the male or female killing the other but, if successful, not only leads to reproduction but also bonds the two together (and causes them, postpartum, to break away from their clan and start a new one). This bond is described as powerful and I will return to it.

Weaker was the characterisation. The primary vampires are more rounded but more time needed to be invested in all the characters. Beyond the clan leaders and their spouses, most of the characters were interchangeable and (bar one named Yakov) forgettable – this was the same with the human Nazi characters who were essentially a homogeneous menace. Even when it came to the main characters, and taking Nikoli (leader of the Romanov clan) as an example for a moment, his character was more detailed but projected as an abusive misogynist. There was no real nuance to this offered and, as it was clear he had mated with Svetlana, their relationship – in which she actively hates him – didn’t ring true once we had witnessed a mating and were told of the effects that the process had on the couple. The author did put in a redemption arc for Nikoli, but putting more detail into the character would have made that more satisfying and helped the reader to understand how their relationship had become so broken. As it was, redemption seemed rather easily achieved. I was also struck by how naïve the vampires seem to be – but that may have been misreading arrogance.

Further characterisation would have improved the novel, as I have said, but the novel still worked and the strength of the concept carried it. That said, it was crying out for a thorough edit – whilst certainly nowhere near the worst I have come across, there were several typos that the editor should have picked up on. Again, it is testament to the idea that the book continued to keep me engaged despite these. 6 out of 10.

e-book @ Amazon US

e-book @ Amazon UK


Jeff said...

Thank you for the review.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

No worries Jeff