Monday, July 25, 2011

The Midnight Guardian by Sarah Jane Stratford

Published October 2009.

It’s 1938, and the tentacles of Hitler’s terrifying Third Reich have commenced their stranglehold on Europe. The Nazi empire will soon be clean of all bloodlines deemed tainted or undesirable…including vampires.

London’s ancient tribunal of vampires is aghast at the destruction taking place on the Continent. Though vampires try not to interfere with human politics, Hitler’s terrible plans force them into action. They resolve to send five of their most formidable vampires to Berlin— millennials that have lived over 1000 years and whose age and wisdom make them close to invulnerable— to infiltrate, disrupt, and destroy the growing Nazi war machine.

The brilliant and beautiful millennial Brigit is loath to go, but her powers are needed if the mission is to have any chance of success. She must summon all her strength to endure the separation from her lover Eamon, whom she made almost eight centuries ago, but whose lack of millennial status makes him an unacceptable choice for this operation. Though he longs to join her, his duty to Brigit is best served from afar, by nurturing their deep psychic connection and reinforcing her spirit with his fierce devotion and memories of his tender embrace.

But as the millennials attempt to penetrate and sabotage Hitler’s armies, they discover that the Nazis are more capable than any human force they’ve yet encountered and more monstrous than they'd ever imagined. Forced to take bolder, more dangerous steps, they soon attract the attention of specially trained vampire hunters loyal to Hitler and his vision of a vampire-free Europe. Exposed, deep inside enemy territory, with vicious Nazi officers and hunters at her heels, Brigit must attempt a daring escape from the Continent, guarding precious cargo that marks the only hope of salvaging their mission.

Good lord that's a long blurb. Blurbal diarrhea. Anyway, DNF. The concept seems interesting enough. Anything about the European theater during World War II will catch my attention. Throw in vampires and I'm there. But the execution left much to be desired. It was just exceptionally slow-moving, a lot of contemplating on a train ride, talking at parties, and not much else. Frankly, I was bored. I don't like being bored reading a vampire book. Vampires aren't supposed to be boring. Yet authors continue proving me wrong on that front. I mean, this book had all the elements of being totally awesome: vampires, Nazis, plot to overthrow the Third Reich, the potential for slaughter. Sounds like a fanged up Quentin Tarantino movie.

But the plot took itself far too seriously and the vampires were insanely TSTL. I'm not sure how one can live past 1,000 years and complain that their species nearly ran out of food during something like The Great War or the Black Death. For serious? Ever hear of a boat? You're effing vampires and you fail to grasp the concept of hunting and gathering? I was really taken aback by that, that the purpose of stopping the Reich from succeeding was to keep their food supply up. Does only Europe exist in this world? Really?

That was a big hurdle for me. The other was the talking heads. All they did was talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. Good mother's ass DO SOMETHING. You're effing vampires and you have to infiltrate the Third Reich like the other dissenting humans do? How about just laying the vampire smack down and ripping Hitler's throat out of his neck? Problem solved. Blame it on a rogue lawn mower to hide your identities, done. But nooooooooo. They have to go all Valkyrie and take it down like humans would. Lame. Why make them vampires to begin with if they're not actually going to act like vampires for something like this?

To their credit, they were vampires when it came to feeding. Merciless, brutal and without a concern for their victims. I applaud that in a land where vampires have all but been neutered. I only wish they applied this side of themselves more to the overall plot instead of just talking their way through things.

I don't know if this is an alternate historical fiction. It would make sense if it were, otherwise I already know the ending and the vampires are going to lose since their mission is to prevent the war from happening. Really, it's kind of like watching Titanic and not knowing the ship sinks at the end. But I don't know if this is the case because I obviously didn't get that far. I don't even think I made it until my token half-way point, I just started begrudging reading it so much. It was just dull. If you want to give me vampires, then give me the shit that goes along with them do. The book had so much potential . . . I want to see what Tarantino would do with it.
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