In Review: A History In Blood

The premise is good, but the execution is disappointing.

A History In Blood by Chris DeFazio

Published by TouchPoint Press in 2013. Paperback of 420 pages at $4.99. 

The cover: The cover is split horizontally, with the top half containing the title of the book in a fancy font, while the bottom half contains two pictures in a red tint: the first being a Roman fresco on a wall and the second a close up of a Goth looking male who undoubtedly serves to represent a vampire. Author Chris DeFazio’s name is in white at the top of the red pictures with the quote “Sometimes being a vampire isn’t all it’s cracked up to be” in white at the bottom. This cover is credited to Colbie Myles and is decent, but the title is a done in an unimpressive and unmemorable font and the pictures look like something snatched for free from online. Overall grade: C-

The premise: From the TouchPoint Press website, “Julian Brownell, a two thousand-year-old vampire, thought depression and divorce in his banal, pretend-human life were bad enough. But when he decides to burst back onto the vampire scene, things go from bad to worse as he finds himself firmly in the sights of the deadliest vampire hunter of all time. A History in Blood (2014 RONE Award Nominee) depicts a world where vampire culture and politics reside peacefully, and for the most, undetected beside the human world. It’s a secretive and more dangerous culture for sure but counterpointed by everyday issues and problems that vampires have to deal with, just like their human prey. Against this backdrop, and with a healthy dose of humor, the story follows Titus Acilius (aka Julian Brownell, aka Christian Beauparlant) on his journey from Boston to New Orleans to Montreal to protect the people he loves from harm even as he searches for the answers to his ancient-life crisis.” From this summary I’m expecting to read about a vampire going through a midlife crisis, with a bit of humor. This is a premise I’ve not encountered before, so I’m interested to see what DeFazio is going to do. Overall grade: B

The characters: Julian Brownell tries to reenter the vampire world, after being married to a human for a decade, and things don’t go as smoothly as he’d like. First, his soon-to-be ex Lisa has been having an affair and she’s pregnant with the other man’s child. When her lover Donald Leland hires an investigator to check into Julian’s background, a tremendous sum of money is found, so Lisa wants answers as to why Jules had so much secreted away. Second, vampire hunters and married couple Bill and Helen Harrison and their band of killers have been scoring some major kills in the vampire community and they’re making their way up to Jules. Third, other vampires are somewhat wary of him, since he’s one of the oldest vampires in North America. He ends up training some newbies and taking them under his wing, all the while keeping both eyes open for those that would do him harm. Julian was not an enjoyable character, as he flits between characters and locations, allowing for supporting characters to shine far beyond him: such as his tremendous “aunts” and the sensational Squid. Lisa starts out as a character to be hated, but she changes into something else when she becomes a bargaining chip in the story. Donald is an unremarkable antagonist and given Julian’s state the human’s fate is not a question of how but when. The Harrisons and their allies interrupted Jules’s exploits as they get closer to finding him, but ultimately fall short of any serious threat since they’re too old to be doing what they do and their peers are woefully unprepared to battle vampires. With the exception of the aunts and the Squid, there weren’t any characters that I cared for and wanted to read about. Overall grade: D

The settings: The book goes to Massachusetts, Iowa, New Orleans, and Montreal. Each location is described well, with New Orleans and Montreal described so finely I wanted to travel there. New Orleans has the most theatrical settings, with some wonderfully lavish locations, as well as a creepy time in a swamp. Montreal comes in second, with the Squid taking Jules out on the town. Iowa contains the Harrisons’ homestead and is the focus for the book’s climax. It’s described as one would expect of a farmland, though what’s in the basement is chilling. Overall grade: B+

The action: When Jules and his ilk feed it has no impact, because it’s described as a necessity. Yes, it’s graphic and there’s plenty of blood, but it was dull to read. The vampire hunters are shown killing a vampire, or two, but it’s not exciting at all; having Jules as a protagonist makes their exploits muted. The climax of the novel contains no suspense, so that action is empty. As a whole, the scenes where characters sit and talk to each other are more exciting than the actual “action” sequences. Overall grade: D+

The conclusion: This was dreadful. Going into this novel, I knew there were two other books to mark this as the first installment in a trilogy, but the Harrisons’ finale was dull and what’s revealed of one character on the final page was unbelievable. The last four lines of the book only increased my dislike. Overall grade: D-

The final line: This was difficult for me to get through. The protagonist wasn’t enjoyable, from a horror, comedic, or sympathetic point of view, and the antagonists were obviously going to bested at some point. There’s no tension anywhere and the humor came off as forced and not a believable part of the characters. I won’t be continuing with this trilogy. The premise is good, but the execution is disappointing. Overall grade: D+

To purchase a copy of this book go to https://touchpointpress.ecwid.com/#!/A-History-in-Blood-Blood-Trilogy-1/p/32989454/category=8269700

 

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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