I received an ARC from the author. Avery and Caroline are fledgling vampire and maker, as well as lovers who have drifted apart. A traumatic event has left Caroline brittle and distant. In her role as acting Hegemon of North America, she is consumed and battered by the non-stop political maneuvering and deadly power struggles that define the lives of the ruling class. Avery, meanwhile, feels left behind and neglected, struggling to find his place in her world. He focuses on developing his nascent psychic abilities, attempting to build competency and thereby establish himself as someone worthy of Caroline’s attention. Stunned by a vivid vision of a horrific multiple murder, he is drawn into the investigation when they learn that a powerful vampire political dynasty has been brutally eliminated and the event is verified. Uncovering the truth behind the murders rocks the foundations of an already politically unstable landscape and Caroline must attend a Gathering of the Ruling Council and work quickly to consolidate her power against those who would wrest it from her. Meanwhile, Avery defends the home front and guards Caroline’s valuable scientific discoveries from powerful forces who would use the knowledge in a bid for vampire and human world domination.
I confess I initially cringed when confronted with the political thriller aspect of this story, since all I had to do was read my news feeds to watch this stuff unfold in real time. What I wanted was escapism and to vicariously experience an adventure in an alien world. To my delight, the political machinations of the ruling class in this story helped to anchor the plot in something real and tangible, driving the pace of the story like a juggernaut. The main characters are realistically drawn, complete with vulnerabilities, emotional ambiguities and self-doubt. The villain is despicable, yet fascinating and complex. Another plus is how the author drew from the vampire mythos of different cultures to create exotic characters. The action and the characters kept me turning the pages to find out what would happen next. If you like a story with high-stakes political intrigue driven by captivating characters with relatable motives, this book is for you.