When one thinks of a true Gothic novel, what comes to mind? What about the best vampire to ever stalk the streets in search of blood? What about the most bad-ass vampire hunter to wield a stake and mallet? The answer to all these questions is, of course, the novel Dracula. With so much in Bram Stoker’s masterpiece to love, why did he never write more in the Dracula mythos? I do believe Kate Cary thought the same thing and, to rectify the situation, she sat down and penned the fabulous Bloodline, the unofficial sequel to Dracula.
Bloodline is a continuation of the Dracula mythology with the story of Quincy Harker: a charming, rogue British army officer who has been leading a secret life because he’s a vampire. He seduces an innocent girl by the name of Lily and, when he takes her back to his family’s castle in Transylvania, he lures her older brother to save her. This, in turn, is all part of a much bigger plot involving the cursed bloodline of Dracula.
The author of Bloodline (and its sequel Bloodline Reckoning) is Kate Cary who has also written for the series Warriors under the pen name of Erin Hunter. She’s a fairly unknown author but it hardly matters: she has an elegant and intelligent style that hard to put down once you start: especially with the Bloodline series.
Bloodline has some very interesting characters: some new and some homage to the original Dracula story. Until the last part of the novel though, there are only four characters that you need concern yourself with. John Shaw is the kind-hearted, older brother of Lily Shaw, who is the innocent and naïve soul that Quincy Harker, the charming vampire, has seduced to become his vampire bride. Along for the ride is Mary Seward, a nurse that fell in love with John and wishes to help him save his sister from a grisly undeath. Of these four characters though, Quincy and Mary are the most fleshed out. No disrespect to John and Lily Shaw, but John spends the first half of the book raving mad from his experiences in the First World War, and Lily is just such a weak human being her character is washed out by the more commanding Quincy, who she spends most of the book with.
Bloodline has some great locations within its three hundred and fifty pages. It begins with one of my favourite locations: the trenches of war torn France. The picture of war is painted beautifully with the mud, the vermin, the violence, and gore of the First World War. Moving from the trenches of France is a war hospital in England that used to be an asylum and a gloomy old manor where Lily lives. When Quincy meets her at this gloomy manor, they make their way across Europe before arriving at the imposing and dark castle that Quincy calls his childhood home. They’re great locations that, without over imposing, showcase the characters wonderfully.
Bloodline is a great book written around what could have been a really lacklustre topic. I mean a sequel to Dracula? Who needs that? As it turns out, I needed a sequel to Dracula no matter how non-sequitur it may seem! The characters are genuine, the writing is poignant and on tone, and the locations paint a grim and gothic façade that really bring this unofficial sequel of Dracula to life.
My final thoughts on Bloodline are that this is a great take on the Dracula mythology. It gives us characters that are human, even when they’re vampires and the writing is vivid and powerful as first person diary entries are a great homage to the original Dracula novel. Plus there’s some steamy lesbian vampire sex! Plus being set in World War One is always a big draw for drama, violence, and good ol’ fashioned vampire gore–none of that Twilight ‘I only eat animals’ garbage! All added up and Bloodline gets high marks from me!