Friday, January 27, 2023

A Cleansing of the Blood: An Anton the Undying Story Collection – review

Author: Scott Harper

First published: 2022

Contains spoilers

The blurb: “Is there immortal blood, blood which will forever quell the red thirst?” asks Anton the Undying of Bregit, Mortark of North America.

Back in a second anthology, Anton, the ancient gladiator turned vampire enforcer, continues to police the magical world and keep it safely hidden. But Anton is also troubled by his bloodlust and seeks a magical means to rid himself of it.

Meanwhile, a threat to Bregit’s rule is growing. Will Anton discover the secret plot to topple Bregit before it’s too late?

Find out in A Cleansing of the Blood.

The review: I previously reviewed the first Anton the Undying collection and, though a short volume, I was taken by the crisp writing. This volume is not as short, but still shorter than an average release and, like the first, is a collection of interlinked stories rather than a novel.

I described the previous novel as an Urban Fantasy, and the modern sections are. However, the stories set in the past are less urban in their fantasy. All in all this could be described as dark fantasy, I’d suggest, and the writing in this volume is as crisp again. The first stories are set in that modern urban setting and we see, as the blurb suggests, an increasing threat to Bregit. What we don’t get is a resolution to that as the stories then stick firmly to the past, with one modern story feeling like it was prior to the primary storyline.

Now, it is here that I am torn. These are well written, entertaining stories and help both world and character building. The last story even goes off-primary character and follows another character, offering a different view of the world – indicating that the author has room and scope to expand his universe beyond his primary character. On the other hand I was also wanting to see how the plot against the ruling power structure would develop – this will, I assume, continue in future volumes. 

Just to touch on lore within the stories, one newer piece is the idea that witchbane will dampen a vampire's supernatural power and we do get a scenario where Anton is pitted against hunters who use witchbane soaked ropes to hold him. There is also lore set around blood able to stave off further bloodlust and allow daywalking but I won't spoil the source of that blood. Some vampire bloodlines have an affinity to the moon and this harks back to early 19th century vampire stories.

For now, this volume is worth your time, again caveated with it being short (but longer than the first) but fun and well-constructed. 8 out of 10.

In Paperback @ Amazon US

On Kindle @ Amazon UK

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