This week I’m reviewing one of my all-time-favourite vampels, The Golden, by Lucius Shephard. I cannot praise this book highly enough, it gets a solid five stars from me without question. I love the classic yet modern feel of this tale, the fact the vampires are true beasts – conniving, cruel, fierce, merciless – and the fact there isn’t a smutty romance plot in sight.
All these things are unusual in a vampel, especially one that’s relatively modern (it was originally published in 1993).
The Golden is set in the requisite spooky castle, a building so elaborate it has its own weather system. This is one of those tales the fully embraces the use of the setting as a character in its own right, and what a character Castle Banat makes! The premise is relatively simple, yet exquisitely executed – warring factions of vampires have congregated at the castle for a special ritual, something so important to them that they have set aside their quarrels and come together to celebrate as one.
The ritual itself is delightfully twisted – for decades the vampires have been breeding a particular bloodline in order to produce the perfect vintage of blood, the titular ‘golden’. This is far more, however, than the simple story of a bunch of vampires getting together to share a couple of humans – Shepard’s writing style is classic, yet slick, complex, yet deceptively simple, with a fantastical mystery woven through a plot with metaphysical elements that are truly a joy to read.
If you like fluff and guff in your vampels, this isn’t for you. It’s a dark tale, with dark characters, a plot you will be delighted to sink your teeth into, and real depth. It’s a compelling, captivating read, but if you’re not a fan of a more traditionally told story, you may struggle with it. The language is more akin to Victorian/Edwardian era tales than modern novels, yet it is without a doubt a modern tale.
Even if you’re a die-hard fan of paranormal romance, you should still read this book, if for no other reason than to get a taste of what vampires are like when they truly have teeth.