This is a more than a fantastic vampire novel, it's a great story. Though they frequently protest it, the vampires in this book are still very human in their emotions and motivations, and the hero, James Asher, has done enough evil in the name of Crown and country to be able to relate to them.
Hambly is a wonderful author who makes you truely care about her characters. This is something of mystery - horror - fantasy mix, hunting vampires in Victorian England. Not my favorite of Hambly, but still fun.
I was surprised how much I liked this book. Somehow I thought it had been written in the dark ages, but it's actually relatively recent. And the story line was quite intriguing. From the first words I was hooked.
I only got this book because I thought it might be one I had read years ago. It wasn't but it was a good choice anyway, and I've ordered the sequel.
From Publishers Weekly
In her hardcover debut, Hambly ( Dragonsbane ) will give Ann Rice a run for her money. Oxford professor James Ahser, once an agent for the British government, is forced to help the vampires of Edwardian London, who are being destroyed one by one through exposure to sunlight as they lie sleeping in their coffins. If she does not oblige, his young wife, Lydia, will perish as have many other vampire victims over the years. Accompanied by one of the oldest of the vampires, Simon Ysidro, who has lived in London since the time of Elizabeth I, Asher begins his investigations, learning about the life and culture of vampires. Meanwhile, Lydia, who is one of the few women physicians of the era, prowls through old property records and medical journals attempting to find other clues. Asher comes to suspect that the killer is a vampire, an unusual one who can live in the light of day, and Lydia develops a reasonable physiology that would account for the ability. Hambly's examination of vampirism is beautifully detailed, with a fine, realistic background and strong sense of atmosphere. Her characters are finely honed, particularly Don Ysidro, the vampire with a sense of noblesse oblige.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Who's been killing the vampires of London, tearing open their coffins to let in lethal sunshine as they sleep--and then drinking their blood?
"Hambly's examination of vampirism is beautifully detailed, with a fine realistic background and strong sense of atmosphere...Will give Anne Rice a run for her money."--Publishers Weekly
One of the best historical vampire/mystery novels I have read
Doctor Asher thought he'd permanently traded in the lethal tools of the late nineteenth century espionage trade for the shabby robes of an Oxford don. But one night he returned to his comfortable home to find his adored wife, Lydia, unconscious. The pale, graceful young man seated beside her politely informed Asher that she was now a hostage of the vampires of London. Her life would be forfeit unless Asher could find a way to use the deadly skills he now loathed in order to thwart the assassin of these creatures, whose death-dealing ways he could not possibly sanction. Asher and the temporarily released Lydia are thus thrust into a race to track down the assassin -- and find out if he or she is actually an ally or an enemy -- before the London vampires' patience runs out and Lydia's life is forfeit. True partners, Asher and Lydia feed one another information during the quest: He applies Holmesian-style sleuthing while she hotly pursues equally vital academic leads. An exciting tale of ethical dilemma, vampire action adventure, true love, and fantastic Victorian-era English atmosphere.
Barbara Hambly is a gifted writer and I have enjoyed other books she has written, but this book was too dark for me. Could be the mood I was in, but just couldn't finish it. Passed it on. I also tire of her endless descriptions which often slow down the action.
This is a paranormal vampire mystery, first in the Asher/Ysidro series.
If you like the paranormal and haven't read this series yet, you should. Hambly writes excellent characters and has amazing descriptive powers. Not so highfalutin' as Anne Rice, but there's plenty of fang angst among the undead. Asher has his own actions as a spy to regret, and his wife Lydia is a smart cookie in an era when women weren't supposed to be smart. They are a good team - he's the action guy and she's the research. And Hambly always does a lot of research for her books so you can practically smell the London of the late nineteenth century. Great scenes inside Paris's catacombs - the empire of the dead - but not terrible amounts of blood and gore.