While I am not enraptured over the current vampire fiction phase I found Mysterious Albion (Vatican Vampire Hunters) by Paul Leone to be a fairly decent read. The author had contacted me regarding reviewing it and I acquiesced only after he assured me the vampires didn’t “sparkle.” The author mentions a creative debt he owes to the late John Steakley and his novel Vampire$ which has been recommended to me by others and is on my long-suffering wish list.
The idea of the Catholic Church and the some group in the Vatican being involved in hunting vampires has had some scope of treatment in movies and books. This is rather natural since if you are going to have some ancient evil foe the idea than the long history of the Church fits in quite well. Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel was rather Catholic-friendly especially considering the author was Irish Protestant. Stoker’s novel even uses the Eucharist to ward-off vampires, something I am glad that really never took of in the vampire genre. Jimmy Akin had an interesting article on this subject. This novel references that aspect of the novel Dracula, but does not use this in the plot.
Regardless the point is that vampires and the Vatican can be sort of a fictional match. Mysterious Albion takes advantage of some of these matches and plays them out rather well.
The basic story is of a young women, Lucy, visiting Britain with her friend are attacked by vampires and she manages to escape. While recovering she is contacted by as sister and a priest regarding what happened to her and a job offer to join them in fighting vampires. These groups of hunters sponsored by the Church are off the books although there is a hierarchy in this organizations that goes to the top. As “Do you mean, are we The Secret and Ancient Order of St. Buffy?”
While there are humorous aspects to this book, mostly the tone is serious thriller. Vampires are a serious evil and threat. The threat is growing and as this novel is the first in a series obviously the peril is just starting.
So overall I enjoyed this book and thought that it mostly used this concept rather well. These are rather trad vampire hunters. The only thing that annoyed me was the swearing by the heroine Lucy. It seemed rather out-of-place at times considering the spiritual warfare preparations in liturgy, prayer, and devotion. It wasn’t the language as such, just at odds at what I thought the character development would entail. I certainly look forward to more from this series.
For a self-published it was good to see profesional quality cover art.
“Ancient undead, dark prophecies and the Catholic Church collide in Leone’s taut thriller, the first in a planned series. … A well-plotted vampire novel with an unusually self-aware protagonist.” Kirkus Reviews