This is the first real book review on my blog. However, I do hope more will come in the future, as I do enjoy reading. I will not focus so much on plots and storylines but rather on the experience the book gives me.
Before I start, I would like (to ensure complete transparency) to note that I was sent the book Nocturnal Blood alongside the two following books for free by the author Villimey Mist. Furthermore, I consider Villimey a friend, even though we have never met in person. But I was not paid for this review, and Villmey did not ask for it. So I am doing this review on my own initiative.
We meet Leia (yes, like the princess), a young girl in College suffering from OCD and anxiety; apparently, three little claps can solve a lot. She is, apparently, friendless with her only real friend (Sophie) disappearing to Canada and the completely. One night Leia makes the mistake of walking down the wrong alleyway, but she is saved by Sophie, who now is turned vampire. Short after, the couple is thrown into real problems due to Sophie breaking a law of the vampires, which sees them on the run from all vampires and their familiars. This is the base setup for the story and all we need to discuss the book.
Even before the girls are on the run, we see Leia having to deal with her only friend being a vampire. Additionally, her only friend has killed in front of her. The gore shakes her to the core, and she has to make decisions about her friend no one should ever have to make. But after all, Sophie killed for her, to protect her. After Sophie breaks the vampire law, they must go on the run, a desperate dash for Seattle. As they run, we understand that the bond between the two girls changes, but not just that. We also see Leia change, and changes are made to her core.
Leia is in the beginning, in denial. But, I mean, would you not be if you find out vampires are real from one day to the next, and because someone else broke the law, you need to get the hell out of your home? I would. But she is not just in denial. She is mentally weak in the sense that she is a push-around. It is easy for Sophie to get Leia to do what she wants just because Leia wants to please her, and it makes her happy to please others. Additionally, Leia trusts others or rather trusts the goodness of others. This is both her greats weakness but also strength. However, throughout their journey, this gets her and Sophie in trouble on multiple occasions. One would think she would learn, but clearly, she does not grasp the concept of reinforced learning. This first comes into full play when Leia, tired doing daytime, needs a rest and seak out a motel and by pure chance, they run into a vampire familiar who wants to please Sophie by providing her blood from, eh, known sources. Leia’s trust facilitates all this, even though, on multiple occasions, Sophie warns her from seeking out Motels and civilisation at large as vampires have multiple sauges (familiars) all over. Here Villimey hints that no place is safe, which is good advice even in our boring world of reality. This experience leaves Leia’s trust devastated and shattered. In extension, she also disappointed Sophie by seeking out a motel, even though she forbade it.
However, although this ordeal should have taught Leia a lesson, we see the first significant change in her. She is no longer such a push-around. She starts setting demands for Sophie, she argues, and the duo begins to have equal footing, which at this time in the story is quite refreshing as otherwise, I would have asked for Leia to be killed. Throughout the story, Sophie is psychologically abusing Leia, or so one may think, but it becomes clear that it is not her intent. She is using her own brand of tough love to harden Leia, something she desperately needs at the start of the story.
After the motel, they are back on the road, but Leia realises that the car is low on gas. She decides to go for a quick fuel up and some food, and to be honest, like a goldfish, she checks into another motel, seemingly forgetting the last events that transpired at a motel. This is all due to a guy who turns out to be, well, not nice. At this time, however, Leia’s trust has already been shattered enough, and she does not totally lose it but instead seems to expect it, so why did she trust the guy in the first place? That is weird a leaves some questions about her mental features in terms of denial versus reality. But at least she is learning on the job and after this is pretty much not trusting anyone else for the remainder of the story, all though she learns to trust one more vampire than Sophie. To me, at least, it seems like she is moving towards a good equilibrium in terms of blind trust compared to blind distrust.
As the story progress, we experience the respect between the young women blossoming, and by the end, they reach a form of mutual respect. In particular, this is facilitated by Sophie, who slowly needs to apply her tough love less and less, and starts to recognise that Leia has gotten tougher and stronger, less OCD-like, granted who has time for OCD with blood, vampires, and bastard humans at every corner? We see Leia turn from a girl to a young woman in terms of maturity, and we see Sophie soften up and become more human. In Sophie’s defence, before our story starts, she has been through things no being should ever experience. I thoroughly enjoyed following these young women’s development and how they end out as closer friends but the second to last story arc.
I believe that Villmey has created characters you, as a reader, can understand, even when they seem cold and/or broken. I find it refreshing to see a book in this style that does not try to hide the horrific parts of being a vampire from the reader and does not shy away from showing human cruelty when a human desires something.
However, although I enjoyed Nocturnal Blood and its characters, I have a few minor grievances regarding how the book is written, and I think it is important that I address these. First, speed. I find that the jump between scenes, which I feel in the book acts more like sub-story arcs, is too quick. In particular, at the beginning of the book, after the first motel, it settles down and becomes a smooth ride. That being said, the quick jumps in the beginning, made me a little confused. I cannot say if this is because Villmey wanted to jump-start the storyline and dive deeper I am not sure. But the contrast is a little weird to me. One arc of the book, where meet the character Kenji (Nice jab a Twilight Valley), also seems rushed to me like he is being plugged in for supporting reasons, a little like Mouning Murdle in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Although the character is given “prime time” later in the story. Secondly, not diving deep. After some of the encounters with “baddies”, I felt a little let down, and the gory details were too shallowly described. For an author who enjoys horror herself, I am surprised that we are not painted a more gory picture of the aftermaths of incidents. However, the last scene in the book, including both Sophie and Leia, is nicely framed, and the same goes for the ally way at the beginning of the book. Finally, I have a bit of an issue with how Sophie’s back story is presented. It is not bad. It is great. But I feel like too little of her life between being turned and meeting Leia again is being revealed regarding the relationship between Sophie and her ward. I would have liked to have seen even more unveiled as the story progressed. Again here Villmey Although this is partially rectified by Sophie describing memories with Kenji.
But even with these minor grievances, I find Nocturnal Blood entertaining to read from an author who surely will produce magnificent vampire and other fantasy-related novels in the future. Based on the fact that this is Villmeys debut novel, I can only have high expectations for Nocturnal Farm, the next instalment in this series.
I recommend this book to any interested in vampire stories thoroughly and who wants to follow, what I expect to be, one of the next excellent vampire novelists.
P.s Do not read this book in an emergency room. People look at you weird for some reason.