Part steam punk novel, part vampire novel, The Rift Walker: Book Two of the Vampire Empire is another rousing success for the book’s two authors.
(Read the review for The Greyfriar: Book One of the Vampire Empire)
The story starts off with Princess Adele set to marry the American, Senator Clark, as she chooses duty to country over the love in her heart. However, she detests the man… which she does not hide very well to just about everyone (including her husband-to-be). Nonetheless, she is off to marry the arrogant man.
Meanwhile, the Greyfriar (also known as the vampire, Prince Gareth) gets wind that there is to be an assassination attempt on his beloved during her wedding. He hastens to Alexandria to stop the attack and rescue Princess Adele at any cost. At the wedding, Adele says her vows (but doesn’t sign the marriage contract yet) when Gareth, in his Greyfriar costume, suddenly bursts into the ceremony and whisks Adele away, very much to the chagrin of her spurned fiancee, Clark. Together again, the duo flees to the south, where nobody would think to look for them.
The pacing of the book slows down in the middle as Adele and the Greyfriar are struggling to remain hidden from her father’s men and the men of Senator Clark. More focus here is put in their evolving relationship, and the typical talk of how Gareth, who is weakened by sunlight and heat (which is why the British Empire relocated to Alexandria in the first place), is going to live with Adele in the future.
The story is good but I found it a bit slower than the original. The action sequences are better in this novel, though, as the Greyfriar and Adele are coerced into fighting for a king in an allied nation against a particularly nasty nest of vampires who reside high in the African mountains. The pacing of the action scenes are vivid, messy and intense — precisely what an action sequence needs to be.
Overall, this book is a solid follow-up effort to a resounding success, which is hard to do. Very rarely is the sequel better than the original, but this one comes close to matching its predecessor. The writing was tight and the characters were driven, something I was particularly enthused about. These were not two-dimensional cardboard cutouts, but real, confused, thrilling individuals who react to their environment and situations. It’s amazing that their behavior is consistent and yet unpredictable at the same time, which shows the skill of both the writers.
Once again the cover is amazing. Though they always say to “never judge a book by its cover”, The Rift Walker can be eye-catching when placed on the bookshelf.
This book, and its predecessor, is a definite must-buy. Buy it for your friends or yourself. No one will be disappointed with it.
—Reviewed by Jason