Saturday, February 12, 2011

Vampire Empire Book One: The Greyfriar by CLay Griffith and Susan Griffith

The Gryefriar is set in steampunk, vampire ridden earth. The planet previously had a vampire uprising, and vampires inhabited the colder regions of the world with human civilization clustered around the equator. The princess of a major human empire is taken by a vampire clan, and all kinds of factions are determined to get her and use for their own purposes.

The Greyfriar is marketed as a steampunk book. It's sort of hard to see why that's the case, as steampunk is a fairly minor element in the setting that has little impact on the plot or characters. There are things and people with old-timey sciency names, and characters wear goggles and travel by blimp. That's about the extent of the steampunk in it.

I feel fairly ambivalent about this book. It is pretty generic and nothing struck me as overly original. The little surprise that wasn't quite a twist was immediately predictable to me. But I really enjoyed reading it. Somehow, despite the vanilla plot and questionable writing, it drew me in and kept me very engaged. But I think what makes me like it most is that it surprised me at the end with a really touching event that made me cry my brains out after I finished the book.

I find the third person, universally omniscient perspective really distracting. I am used to books where the perspective changes from chapter to chapter (probably my preferred narrative style), but not sentence to sentence. I find it incredibly confusing and distracting when the author is describing multiple characters' thoughts and perceptions all mixed in together. It seems clumsy or somehow unrealistic. It just doesn't make sense to me and literally trips me up every time I encounter it. I realize it's a style choice, arguably as valid as any other perspective, but it really diminishes my enjoyment of books. Even first person or second person (it exists, it's weird) is less 'unnatural' to me!

I sort of hate to say this, but The Greyfriar would probably appeal to the twilight crowd. Spunky princess. Mysterious vampires in cool outfits. Unlikely love. Drama at a very teenage level... It definitely appealed to the lovelorn 13 year old in me, more than the cynical 25 year old!

Despite the horrible things I am saying, I really inexplicably enjoyed this book and would recommend it to fans of light fantasy who don't mind plots centering around spunky princesses and love stories. I definitely am not going to be recommending it the the steampunk enthusiasts I know, because that is a marketing gimmick for the series more than a legitimate plot element in my opinion! The second book in the series isn't out yet, but I will probably be reading it when it arrives.

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