*I received a complimentary copy of this book, and I’m leaving a voluntary review*
(Note: I never deliberately spoil anything that I consider a major part of the plot, and I always double check to see how much is revealed in the official blurb to know what major things are already revealed and not. However, there might be minor things that certain people could consider spoilers, so read on at your own risk.)
Plot in short – A group of Russian nobles, some vampires, some not, try to assassinate Grigory Rasputin.
The longer version – Russia, early 20th century – the world is engaged in the first World War. Due to political turmoil, a group of Russian nobles are worried about the outcome of the war. They worry that Grigory Rasputin – holy man and mystic – has too much influence over the Tsar Nicholas II and his family, and that Rasputin’s advice and counsel will have dire consequences for Russia and the outcome of the Great War. Rasputin must be removed. Many of the nobles are bloodthirsty ones, vampires. It’s a “condition” common amongst the nobles, and reserved for those of high standing. As they plot against Rasputin however, some of the nobles come across information leading them to believe they can’t kill Rasputin – something in his blood specifically, means he can’t be touched.
Well. This book was great! I have a new-found love for historical fiction, I definitely must read more of it! When I first read about this book I was half expecting vampire cults and large battles, but this book isn’t that at all (luckily – if you’re expecting Blade, Buffy or Underworld, you might be disappointed.)
The plot of this book runs SO deep, the political backdrop of the whole thing is fantastic. The scheming felt like a mix of House of Cards and Game of Thrones (but don’t be turned away if you don’t like those things – this book is so much more!) Everyone has an agenda, there’s always something to gain. The most important thing (for the vampires), is to get rid of Rasputin. But not all of them agree. Some think Rasputin is untouchable. Yet others want him gone – for the good of Russia. I became extremely gripped by trying to figure out who would end up on top in the end. I’ll drop a little hint and say it wasn’t who I thought.
I struggle with names sometimes. When I read A Song of Ice and Fire I had to keep a short notepad of names to keep track (thankfully I’d already watched 2-3 seasons of Game of Thrones). For this book I had to write some names down, particularly since they were mostly Russian names and because some people referred to others by first names, last names or nicknames.
But I loved it! I love a book that manages to be more complex than it’s reader (did I just say that I’m stupid?) It makes me feel like I’m privileged to be able to (try) to be a part of the story, it makes me have to work to understand what’s going on, to figure things out. (Not that the book is difficult in any sense, but you know what I mean? Complexity adds to the intrigue.)
The book jumps in time at certain points, and switches between third and first person storytelling. I really liked that, some of it was in the now, whilst some was told looking back at what had happened. A cool effect, and a great way to tell a story.
The ending felt a little anticlimactic at first, but only because it fooled me about what the real ending was. The actual ending was great, and made the whole story come full circle. I never saw it coming.
If you’re thinking about reading some great historical fiction, or if you are particularly fascinated by Russian history or the legend/myth behind Rasputin, I can defintely recommend this book!