Well, I thought I posted a review of this, but I can't find it, so here it is:Blood Maidens
by Barbara Hambly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
True vampire lovers should know about Hambly’s wonderful books about John Asher, Oxford don and formerly of His Majesty’s Secret Service, and the ancient Spanish vampire Don Simon Ysidro. The series starts with Those Who Hunt the Night
, and continues with Traveling with the Dead
. In Blood Maidens
, we are eighteen months further into the marriage of James and Lydia Asher. It’s 1911, and they have gone on with their lives since the last time vampires and humans were forced to work together.
But Don Simon is powerful enough to slip into human dreams, and he calls James to him to tell him of a disturbing rumor. There may be a rogue vampire working with humans to create a vampire capable of walking in daylight. And the Kaiser of Germany would be very interested in such an agent.
James Asher is no innocent. He knows that his own government would be just as interested in such a thing, and that a terrible war looms on the horizon. Don Simon knows that such a meeting of vampires and humans would be an abomination, a nightmare let loose on the world. But he has no more information – the vampire who wrote to warn him of such a possibility has disappeared.
Don Simon would go to see if his friend is still free, living the vampiric life she chose (though he refused to give it to her, so she found another willing to bring her over into unlife.) But he can not travel without assistance, not without safe places to pass the day. Asher can no longer travel as he did for His Majesty – the other vampires know of him, and most want him dead.
But together? Together they can seek answers to many questions. And in the end, Lydia’s skills as a researcher will be needed as well.
This book has come out from Severn House. It may not have been picked up first by the trades because it starts slowly, intricately, placing you into the atmosphere and time of Hambly’s story. The story is heading for the sub-arctic capital of old Russia, with the White Nights eminent. Few vampires chose to live in the far north, where only the strongest can stay alive during the few hours of darkness of their summer. The names of the cities are evocative, and Hambly uses names proper to the place and time – Köln, Neuehrenfeld, Charlottenstrasse, Bohemia, Ragojskaia Zastava. We slip back and forth between the Gregorian and the Julian calendars, which are still at odds in the story’s time.
Hambly is not sentimental about vampires. They are predators, their few “attractive” traits lures to help them secure prey. Once again, we see that Don Simon is rare in that he still is interested in anything beyond the next hunt. But Hambly as always asks interesting questions about the nature of life and death, of how people use the time they have. Her characters consider the possibility of immortality of a kind, and choose where they will stand when vampires behave as humans, and humans as monsters.
A beautiful, historical look at one view of vampires. You will care about the Ashers and Don Simon, and how it all falls out. I'd recommend starting with the first book, if you can -- I think the layering of the plot will work better for you that way.View all my reviews