So, I thought I would check out something completely out of my typical genre. I’ve read a several romances, a few vampire novels, but no steampunk. So, I found Tarnished Knight (on sale for Free! (Have you noticed a theme to my Kindle Purchases?)
So, here’s a quick summary – we’re in Victorian London and there’s a group of vampires hiding out. The vampires are very hierarchical and an interesting part of the mythos. We’re introduced to the protagonist John `Rip’ Doolan. He enters the story with his mechanical arm and infected by the Vampire Virus. There’s quite a bit of internal dialogue as `Rip’ struggles to control his vampirism and his feelings for Esme – his longtime friend and one of the keepers at the house the vampires share.
The two of them spend much of the novel trying to sort out their feelings for each other. Rip fears that he’ll lose control of his vampire aspects and drain Esme, killing her. Esme doesn’t understand why Rip is ignoring her – they were excellent friends before his being turned in to a vampire.
Meanwhile, in the darkness of the London night, groups of Slashers are moving through the region. While the vampire group is not afraid of them, the reputation of their leader keeps the Slashers from doing anything to those protected by the vampires. It creates a good bit of backdrop and motivation for the Slashers in the story to have this conflict available, because otherwise all we would have to look at is the conflict between Esme and Rip and that could not sustain the novel in and of its entirety.
I won’t go in to many more details, but the story is decent if sloooooooow to start. It does start to pick up about half way through but I could have done with a little less focus on the characterization at the start to get to some of the conflict outside of Rip and Esme’s feelings. Those parts are fairly well written, but *something* has to happen to keep the reader on board, and it takes awhile for the story to do that. The writing, however, is compelling enough to keep a dedicated reader committed.
The romance is fairly well played, if a bit predictable. All of the traditional phrases of romance novels are present in the book and used to their full effect. Rip’s internal conflict is contrasted against some of these feelings, though, which makes for some interesting reading as he pushes at his vampirism while working through his passions. The contrasts are some of the best pieces of writing in the book and make for a change compared to what I see in a lot of romance novels.
On the whole, this is a pretty well crafted story. The slow beginning is the only true `down’ side to the novel, but it could be a deal breaker in a busy schedule.
Word Count 5/5