Honor at Stake by Declan Finn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Vampire romance is popular these days, but this book is vampire romance for readers who think. How many vampire novels have you read that feature a discussion on philosophy, as it relates to vampires, with references to Thomas Aquinas?
The story is centered on Marco Catalano and Amanda Colt, who meet at Hudson University. One is a vampire, one isn’t. And I suppose telling which is which would be a spoiler.
The story begins with a prologue, in which Marco and his then-girlfriend Lily Sparks, and the violent incident that made Lily into an ex-girlfriend. We then move on to the meeting of Marco and Amanda. Amanda, in spite of her name, is actually Russian, and of course she is beautiful. Sparks— but not Lily Sparks— fly.
We then encounter one of Declan Finn’s patented Clever Chapter Titles: “Always Date Inside Your Species.” Which is a way of raising the question, can a vampire date a human without someone becoming dinner?
Marco, as it turns out, is a feudal lord to a pair of street gangs— the Dragons and Los Tigres— which unlike most street gangs compete to see how many bad guys they can apprehend and turn over to the cops.
Marco introduces Amanda to his father, Dr. Richard Catalano, and invites her to spend Christmas with the family. Richard reports on the murder of a former member of one of Marco’s pet gangs. It is one of a series of vampire murders.
There are some medically unusual things about the vampire killings and Richard sends samples to the CDC. Which action attracts a vampire to the hospital. Marco has to fight the vampire off with a martial art called Krav Maga.
Then there is the matter of the Vatican Ninjas, a vampire fighting force. You see, evidently the Church noticed the sudden demand for holy water and other blessed items from people fighting vampires, and so the existence of vampires is no mystery to them.
The vampire virus is revealed to be parasitic in nature— kind of like vampires themselves. And then there is the late introduction of another character, Merle Kraft, and the useful revelation of how you can up with a 50 gallon drum of holy water when a vampire battle looms.
There is a major battle against the bad vampires, which by no means ends the war, since this book is going to have a sequel (Yay!)
FLAWS IN THE BOOK
(tongue in cheek)
Marco says some rude stuff about Mormons and also does not care for the Twilight series (I liked that series well enough, myself, and some of my imaginary friends are Mormons.)
A priest-character expresses the opinion that ‘no one’ believes in Adam and Eve any more. Which is not accurate since the Catholic Catechism mentions Adam and Eve and the Fall of Man rather than rejecting them. But I contacted the author and he says he ran this concept past a couple of priests. So it is possible a priest would say this.
The Yiddish word ‘schm-ck’ (rhymes with duck) is used. It’s a dirty word in Yiddish.
The Star Trek series is mentioned and the character who does so gets it WRONG! He mentions ‘Kojo the Executioner’ and later corrects it to ‘Chronos the Executioner’. It’s KODOS the Executioner! You know, like Kang and Kodos on the Simpsons.
A character mentions that Boston, as home of the Red Sox, is EVIL. I am a Red Sox fan and therefore know that this is wrong, and that there is a whole other baseball team that is EVIL, and their initials are: New York Yankees. I shall have to get revenge on the fictional character that said this.
This book is an excellent read for anyone who loves vampire fiction. The love story does not get in the way of all the action. And there are no sex scenes or rants featuring foul language, so you don’t have to hide the book from your kids or your parents.
“Sikh and ye shall find.” (For some reason, some people groan at lines like that.)
There is a fair bit of violence mentioned, most either violence committed by evil vampires or violence defending against them.
And this novel represents a return to the vampire traditions of Bram Stoker’s Dracula in the fact that the evil vampires, at least, are vulnerable to holy items.
I can’t wait until the next book in the series comes out. If you read this book, you may feel the same way.
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