Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff
Review by Jen
I started a new gig and we’re moving, too! Things have been busy and I haven’t read as much as I would normally like. But, this book was absolutely addicting and I just had to share.
A little history, my book pipeline went from Harry Potter to Twilight to all things Anne Rice, then Black Dagger Brotherhood…which I eventually just had to give up on. THERE’S JUST SO DAMN MANY IN THAT SERIES! How does one keep up?! However, I do still have a love for vampires and this book reminded me why.
I listened to Empire of the Vampire on my Libby app. The voice actor was terrific! It does end on a cliffhanger- you’ve been warned. If there’s anyone with some magic out there who can get me an ARC of the next book in the series, I will love you forever.
The gist is that the world is stuck in darkness for decades. Vampires are at war with humans. Our anti-hero is Gabriel de León. He’s not really a full vampire and not human either, he’s a rare hybrid being. Dad’s a bloodsucker he’s never met, and mom is a regular human woman. When his family and town realize what he is, he’s taken to a religious order of “silversaints.” These men fight against all evil, from monsters, and witches to vampires. Silversaints smoke a blood powder that chases away any blood lust and gives them strength. Each silversaint has a specific power that is passed on to them from their vampire dad. Gabriel doesn’t know his real father, or what his unique power might be.
The story is told by an imprisoned Gabriel to a vampire archivist. The archivist is doing the bidding of his queen, recording Gabriel’s life through words and sketches. His story begins as a weak silversaint and evolves to him being a legendary fighter. The stuff of legends! Literally, there are legends about him, and people singing his story throughout the land.
If you liked Interview with the Vampire (which I did!), if you liked Game of Thrones (I loved that series!), if you dig magic and mystery schools (I do!) and can handle a huge helping of darkness and violence (I have a heart of stone), this is for you. I even think there’s a nice coming-of-age theme threaded throughout, too. It checks a lot of boxes.
I enjoyed the characters. I liked the banter between Gabriel and the archivist. There’s a bit of a knife in the back moment that I could sort of feel coming…yet I still gasped. But, is there romance? Yes! Even some romance and steam.
At the beginning, Gabriel is loyal to the order and knows why he’s fighting. For God. God is good, and vampires are bad. It’s all for God and to end the darkness that’s taken over the world. Awful things happen and he struggles with his faith. He rightfully feels betrayed, angry, and even self-destructive. His journey has such devastating moments.
I highly recommend this book. Give it a listen. It’ll take you a while, the book clocks in at around 27 hours! Well worth it, I promise. I’m so excited for book two, did I mention that???