First published in 2008.
George Archer, Liz Oldfield and Eddie Hopkins have made a rather unfortunate discovery: vampires actually exist, and they really do feed on human blood. Using a labyrinth of tunnels beneath Victorian London, these sinister creatures are intent on destroying the human race, and they'll start by taking over the most powerful place in London - the Houses of Parliament.
Through their research on ancient mysteries and a secret London gentleman's club, George, Liz and Eddie come up with a plan to beat the vampires at their own game. And they'd better do it soon, before they become the vampires' next meal . . . (book flap blurb)
What an awesome book. Really. Now here's a guy that knows how to play with the lore, not ass rape it.
First off, I was surprised by how British it was. Usually with British books, when we get them, they're Americanized. Like the Harry Potter books. Most of the British colloquialisms were removed apparently because we wouldn't get it. But this one appeared relatively untouched. There are even 'ou' spellings, British punctuation and everything. I liked it. It didn't insult my intelligence (because, really, Americanizing is pretty insulting) and it made the read feel that much more authentic.
While I pretty much raced through it, I felt it did meander a bit at times. The dawdling at the work house, for instance. I felt too much time was spent there in comparison to the relevance of the place to the greater plot. Yeah, it's a little wordy but I've read worse and even though there were a few too many words, it still remained interesting and I wanted to keep reading. That's really what matters, right?
Out of all the characters, I felt the closest to Eddie. I felt like he was the one character where we were really able to get into his head and his feelings and understand them. Plus he's a snarky little shit and I just really liked that. Sir William's a pretty cool dude. I wouldn't mind working with him. George was a bit of a stiff, especially for someone his age, but he proved useful and not nearly as anal-retentive as he first appeared. I think I liked Liz the least. That's not to say I didn't like her but I felt she didn't really add much to the overall story. I was neither here nor there about her but really just meh.
Plus I felt her "big role" would have been easily found out by the vampires. That was the only part of the book that I had a hard time believing in. By the time we get to that point in the book, we know what the vampires are capable of, what their powers are and so on. Considering that knowledge and the situation, I didn't find her situation plausible and I think they would have ripped open her neck for playing them. But that's just my opinion.
Now the lore part, totally awesome. Richards has all the basic constructs of vampires; fangs, light sensitivity (not combustion level but sensitive), blood drinking, plus he even went with the water fear and the connection to home soil. I loved that part, how they keep their soil on them. Very smart! The Great Lie, though, was quite possibly the best part. It twists the lore just enough that it still maintains its integrity but creates for something new and interesting and YES! I don't want to give it away but let me just say that it takes a "standard" part of the lore that's in favor of the vampires and turns it right against them. Very awesome. And then there's the hibernation bit of it as well. That was another one of the parts of this book's lore that I loved the most, vampires switching places in order to not inundate the planet. No wonder there was discord!
I loved all of the twists this book had to offer, especially with Liz's father. He was such a dynamic character, and one of my favorites, even though he didn't appear much in the book. He was such a strong presence that from the moment he was introduced, even when he wasn't in scene, his presence permeated the pages. Really, no wonder the Reverend wanted to keep Liz away from the theater. While the reason, to me anyway, was pretty obvious as soon as it was introduced, the way it came to light, and then dark, was totally cool.
This is an excellent, and creepy, book about vampires. It makes them a little more realistic, a little sexy but very dangerous and very undead. You can't become a vampire until you die and then you get to claw your way out of your grave. It's probably one of the most traditional pieces of vampire lore and one that I liked the best. It gives them the juxtaposition of being appealing but at the same time truly the abominations that they are. They are undead, as they should be. People shouldn't want to be that but there's a side with a draw that, for some, is irresistible.
Read this book. Now. The vampires will appreciate it.