Title: Empire of the Vampire
Author: Jay Kristoff
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Synopsis: From holy cup comes holy light; The faithful hand sets world aright. And in the Seven Martyrs’ sight, Mere man shall end this endless night. It has been twenty-seven long years since the last sunrise. For nearly three decades, vampires have waged war against humanity; building their eternal empire even as they tear down our own. Now, only a few tiny sparks of light endure in a sea of darkness. Gabriel de León is a silversaint: a member of a holy brotherhood dedicated to defending realm and church from the creatures of the night. But even the Silver Order could not stem the tide once daylight failed us, and now, only Gabriel remains. Imprisoned by the very monsters he vowed to destroy, the last silversaint is forced to tell his story. A story of legendary battles and forbidden love, of faith lost and friendships won, of the Wars of the Blood and the Forever King and the quest for humanity’s last remaining hope: The Holy Grail.
"A career defining moment for Kristoff. Prepare thyself for a mind-blowing masterpiece that makes you question...everything." J.M. Buckler award-winning author of the SEEKER OF TIME trilogy.
Review: This is a review for the ARC I received from the author.
YOU. ARE. NOT. READY. Hello, book hangover. I tried. I tried picking up another novel after finishing this mind-blowing escape, but nothing satiates my hunger. Ironic? Perhaps. I guess the joke’s on me. Thanks a lot, Mr. Kristoff. ;-) I refuse to explain the irony behind said statement because spoilers are NOT an option. One must explore this book without breadcrumbs. Trust me, Empire of the Vampire does not disappoint. Now, on to my review.
Words that accurately describe my experience while reading Empire of the Vampire: happiness, sadness, surprise, fear, anger, disgust, and contempt. Author Kristoff’s stunning prose and captivating characters allow the reader to process the seven human emotions while immersed in a terrifying new world. Satanic villains lurk in the darkness, devoted followers fight the good fight, and morally grey characters question their faith and existence.
Our protagonist, though some may beg to differ, Gabriel De Leon, is unlike any character I’ve ever read. The silversaint’s internal battle pulled at my heartstrings while making me want to throw the book across the room. Once faithful and now faithless, De Leon’s spiritual journey was moving yet unnerving. Kristoff did a phenomenal job at diving into the mind of a man who longs for a tarnished badge of honor.
The secondary characters were unforgettable. Aaron, Dior, Chloe, Greyhand, the Beast of Vellene: the list goes on and on. Kristoff did not sideline these key players. They were integral pieces of De Leon’s journey, both internally and externally. I was so attached to Aaron and Dior that, at times, I literally had heart palpitations while reading.
Empire of the Vampire's pacing was utter perfection. I loved switching back and forth between before and present day. Each chapter left me on a subtle cliffhanger while the end of each book left me gasping. I couldn’t stop reading. I kept looking for excuses to crack open the book and fly threw another chapter.
Will this book piss off a few Christian readers? Absolutely. The Christian undertones are STRONG and blatantly obvious. But here’s the thing, Kristoff has never shied away from towing the line. He keeps that trend going in EoTV. If I had to take a guess, I would imagine De Leon’s spiritual dilemma is very near to Kristoff’s heart. That was a breadcrumb, folks.
Here’s the thing, every reader will have a different opinion, and that’s okay. It’s a fantasy novel. It’s not Kristoff’s job to explain each word or religious reference. I’m a Christian and I devoured this book whole. Regardless of one’s devotion, it’s normal for humans to question their faith. The raw and emotional account of this in EoTV hit every mark, creating an authentic reflection of the human struggle.
Should I discuss Kristoff’s prose? Yes, yes, I will. As a fellow writer, I’m constantly searching for books that will help elevate my craft. Empire of the Vampire is THAT book. I NEVER re-read books…ever…until now. EoTV was an educational experience. In my humble opinion, Kristoff’s prose is the gold standard in today’s literature. His words paint beautiful yet grotesque pictures simultaneously without adding unnecessary fluff to the narrative. His varying sentence structure is noteworthy. The smooth ebb and flow eliminates undesired lulls.
Honestly, I could gush all day about this masterpiece. Empire of the Vampire has moved into the top position of my 2021 reads, and I don’t see that number dropping soon. So, do yourself a favor and pre-order this book...NOW. This is Kristoff’s Oscar nomination, his career defining moment. You don’t want to miss out.
Triggers/Warnings: adult language, graphic content, graphic sexual content, violence, torture
Escapism Factor: 5/5
Emotional Connection: 5/5
Character Development: 5/5
Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Completed Read: May 2021