Sunday, October 25, 2015

REVIEW: Daughters of Shadow & Blood: Yasamin by J. Matthew Saunders

Just in time for Halloween, Daughters of Shadow & Blood: Yasamin (Saint George's Press) is the first book in an ongoing supernatural thriller series written by J. Matthew Saunders, who elegantly weaves history, vampiric lore, and colorful characters together in a fast-paced, yet often gloomy ride that grabs you by the throat and sinks its fangs into you.

Set through a myriad of timelines and eras, the anchor story itself begins within a dark study, where Adam Mire, a historian and scholar, has tracked one of the Dracula's brides to discover why his friend was murdered, and as these types of stories often result, ends up uncovering so much more. Mire himself is a fairly well-built and fleshed-out hero, full of his own doubts that are made up for by the strengths of his knowledge and deductions, and never once does the reader feel really lost as he tries to uncover the truth behind Dracula and his chosen brides, with constant connections made to Bram Stoker's Dracula. In many ways, this book serves as a love letter to its predecessor.

The real wonder of this novel lies within the story of Yasamin, however, as Saunders gifts us a protagonist whose story the reader knows will not end well in terms of her mortal life, yet it grabbed me at the very beginning. From the moment we find the orphaned daughter in the harem of an Ottoman prince to the scene where her shadowy lover, Dracula, embraces her within an eternity of darkness, she captivated me. Mystery, murder, and horror abound in these stark yet beautifully paced chapters, leaving me often wanting more.

Fine storytelling aside, there are some things to consider when you pick up this book. For all of the intense psychology and pacing, it was often easy for me to get lost within the short chapters that jump between character timelines and events. The other issue, and this is just a peeve of mine, is that sometimes the action scenes aren't as well put together as they should be--but I'm a stickler for action scenes, so take that criticism with a real grain of salt. They might work for others.

Daughters of Shadow & Blood: Yasmin is a cerebral jaunt into darkness, filled with questions accompanied by bloody answers, schemes brewed by dark souls, and one hell of an adventure that keeps you on the edge of your seat from the moment the curtains close and the blood starts to spill. If you are looking for a great Halloween read this season, pick this one up!


Pick up this great story here, and check out more of J. Matthew Saunders at these links:


Thanks for stopping by and have a happy Halloween! Stay safe!

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