For the last two hundred years, a small tribe of vampires have lived in near isolation in the wilds of Finland. Hiding from humans, they believe themselves the last of their kind. When mysterious invaders slaughter the tribe, Jyrki, the only survivor must embrace human civilisation, not just to hide from his enemies but to discover why his father believed he was the prophesied saviour of the vampire race.
In addition to a solid twist on the usual divine curse origin story, the details of which Jyrki must uncover, Hambly sets him up a potentially the subject of a prophecy then does not give him the full details of the prophecy. This tweak on the epic fantasy trope supports some of the more unlikely events without letting the story descend into the journey from one tick-box to another that occurs in some prophecy-based books.
The differing power groups are also portrayed with the same lack of complete information. This gives the reader a stronger feeling that Jyrki doesn’t know who to trust.
However, this immersion in a rich and interesting world is somewhat damaged by the prose. Whether it is a deliberate choice, perhaps to portray Jyrki’s archaic and limited experience of the world, or an accidental deviation from the usual rules of writing, the prose is often stilted or confusing.
Jyrki’s personality is very believable for his background. Unfortunately – while plausible – the strong thread of arrogance that comes both from being a vampire among humans and the subject of a prophecy reduces the reader’s desire he succeed, at least until he has experienced a few real failures.
Accounting for the issues in the style, the supporting cast feel distinct and reasonably well realised.
However, as is always a risk with books where humans discover the supernatural is real, Hambly has in places erred to far on the side of glossing over the shifting between acceptance and disbelief that would likely occur in real life; the most obvious instance being a character revealing they worked out Jyrki was a vampire almost at the first meeting, but have displayed no sign of knowing this for the entire book.
Overall, I enjoyed the plot but found the style distracting. I recommend it to readers who are seeking a modern vampire tale and are not put off by loose writing.