Ancient Blood – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

4 Stars

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Brian McKinley

In Brian McKinley’s Ancient Blood: A Novel of the Hegemony, Avery is obsessed with vampires- their culture, their way of life, their history, everything. After a one-night stand with a woman whom he later realizes is an actual, real-life vampyr, Caroline, he begs her to change him. However, he soon learns that being a vampyr is not as idyllic as it once seemed. Avery and Caroline are hunted, captured, and imprisoned by Caroline’s brutal and ruthless Creator, Sebastian. Together, they must find a way to escape their inhuman captivity, all while reconnecting with their own lingering humanity in the process.

Much of Ancient Blood, although entertaining, seemed far too rushed. Many key plot points were skimmed over or skipped altogether, as if Brian McKinley was constantly in a hurry to get onto the next event in the story. This rushed narrative ultimately harmed the novel in certain areas, most notably in the lack of chemistry between Avery and Caroline. More thorough development and elaboration throughout the story would have been invaluable to Ancient Blood. Instead, in some ways, this novel still reads like an unfinished draft.

Aside from that, Ancient Blood was a most enjoyable horror novel. Its humorous, conversational narrative helped balance out some of the darker aspects of the story. Also, Brian McKinley’s use of descriptive language was stunning; no matter the subject, everything was described thoroughly and vividly. There was plenty of thought and research put into the several “species” of vampires noted in the novel, making the entire book even more captivating. All in all, Ancient Blood: A Novel of the Hegemony could use a fair bit of revision here and there, but it’s already excellent as is. Without ever feeling cliché or tired, Ancient Blood shines a whole new light on the traditional vampire as we know it.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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