Speculative Fiction Reviews, Interviews, Art and Whatever Else!
Narrative: Third Person, Past Tense (mostly!)
Until Daughters of Shadow and Blood: Yasamin, I don’t think I had ever read a book that spreads across so many different Genres, and actually does them all justice! It’s a historical fiction, thriller, horror, Fantasy, murder mystery, Romance, paranormal, war, action extravaganza that grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go until you put the book down, and even then you’re left thinking, ‘thats a pretty ominous ending..’ and imagining where this is going to go next! It has a DiVinci Code feel, but, I actually liked this!
Essentially, the core subject of the book is the life of Yasamin, one of the three Brides of Dracula and how her past has given credence to the actions of Adam, a historian that is desperately searching for answers about his friend’s murder and the mysterious medallion of Dracula that seems to be the central cause of all the woes.
The structure of the book is actually quite interesting! It consists of interlocking different timelines and points of view, that are then framed with a central scene(s) between the two main protagonists, Yasamin and Adam. It also includes parts of the book Dracula and letters/documents/journal entries written by or about historical figures that may have been directly involved in the rise and fall of Dracula and his vampires. By skipping back and forth through time, place and different view points, the plot is revealed in a totally non-linear manner. Strangely, the plot flowed really evenly, though it looks like it shouldn’t! It presented a unique narrative, and I found myself really enjoying this approach to creating a storyline.
(The coolest thing is, I sort of felt like a kid reading one of those children’s picture books where you open up letters, read scraps of paper etc (usually lost somewhere in the library) to try and fit together the clues to solve the mystery..)
The only downside to time skipping of course, is that you do lose some tension in the action scenes knowing that the character gets out unscathed and to his final destination, right at the beginning. In the grand scheme of things, it’s only really a blip in the proceedings, because the plot is so well conceived. And I honestly have no idea how it could be structured like it is, without that intensity dropping, so I guess it’s a sacrifice that’s probably worth making…
Yasamin’s story is really the stand out here. By revealing her character before she became a vampy creature, and intertwining it with real and brutal historical events, she becomes this full bodied character that you are able to empathise with, even though she is not the ‘sparkle in the sun’ type of vampire you’d like to have around for dinner. I actually had blissful moments of amateur historian love as the Ottoman empire was explored, giving a region I’ve only seen in sterile texts, breath, life and flesh.
The scenes with Adam are thrilling and the mystery extremely engaging, but the interaction between other secondary characters was a bit hit and miss, and the stilted relationship with the Russian ‘helper’ was really undercooked. I had a ‘they are doing what now? but.. ok.. I suppose if you like.. ‘ moment. It was more of a detraction than an addition. Adam is a really strongly written character and his arc extremely engaging, so it felt more like the secondary characters were just a bit too flimsy to keep it running smoothly in the scenes where he had sidekicks.
This was an extremely entertaining read! The slow pulled back moments of historical fiction, juxtaposed with the frantic whirlwind of thrilling mystery of the present, makes Daughters of Shadow and Blood: Yasamin sing, and I enjoyed it immensely!
Harcopy Worthy? I’d like to see book 2 first, but most likely!