by Shari Sakurai
Demon’s Blood is the first book in a series and introduces vampires, Taku and Thane, who are also lovers. They have fled Tokyo after being targeted by vampire hunters and have begun a new life in England. However, both vampires cannot flee for long. Thane is wracked by nightmares of their time in Tokyo. He begins to lose heed of Taku’s warnings and advice, becoming so careless in his hunting that police suspicions grow. Meanwhile, whilst helping his lover cover his tracks, Taku is also desperately trying to hide just what did happen in Tokyo…
I found Demon’s Blood to be a good, solid page-turner. The Prologue and opening chapters are suitably gripping stuff. Ms Sakurai’s writing is immediately confident and the switch between Taku and Thane’s point of view following the Prologue makes for a nicely developing narrative. I also enjoyed the Japanese cultural angle; it lent the book a slick, stylised aspect.
I did wonder whether the plot was too slow; but the build-up and time spent on defining the relationship between Taku and Thane in the first half of the novel, elevated this book from the normal vampire-fest to a more intelligent read. Given that this is a series, it is important that the reader is invested in both Taku and Thane and Sakurai ensures that this happens. The fact that both are lovers worked integrally to and with the plot; it was not an afterthought or gratuitously used. This intimate connection between the two vampires added emotional depth and gave credible explanation as to why both behave as they do. There is an overwhelmingly strong sense of Sakurai’s affection for these two central characters that she has created. The passages with one or both, which form the majority of the book, really come alive with her passion for them. So much so, that I felt the other characters were a little wooden at times by comparison.
The plot is fairly simple although there is quite a change around Chapter 17; the narrative is retold by differing viewpoints and I’m not sure that every nuance of that was required. The plot, at this stage, could have become a little confusing. Sometimes, this genre can disappear into a fantastical rabbit-hole, but this book did not become too far-fetched; it was believable in the genre.
One word of caution – if you are squeamish with blood (like myself), be prepared! It is rather graphic in parts. The ending did not provide utmost resolution but as this the first in a series that is to be expected. The book can and does stand alone to an extent and I would certainly read on.
An accomplished novel that provides both an absorbing, fresh and interesting take on the genre. Highly recommended.