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Blood: Book One of the Mercian Trilogy (edition 2011)

by K. J. Wignall

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Title:Blood: Book One of the Mercian Trilogy
Authors:K. J. Wignall
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Blood: Book One of the Mercian Trilogy by K. J. Wignall

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Review Courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: Strong exposition and a unique take on vampires come together in this novel to show us another side of the world we live in. The first in a new series, this novel is a build up to book two.

Opening Sentence: We burned the witches in 1256.

The Review:

A vampire wakes up from hibernation to discover ghosts stalking him and a human girl somehow connected to his destiny–whatever that is. Wignall has created vampires that are different from our classic Draculas. They don’t need blood for physical survival–it’s the vampires’ souls that calls for it. While their bodies are trapped at the age they died, vampires hair and teeth (which he files down [insert shudder here]) and fingernails continue to grow. I’m pretty sure the author was trying to use the urban legend that hair and fingernails continue to grow after death, but it’s not true (no corpses were exhumed to find this information). And they can hibernate for years–decades, if they drank enough before sleeping.

Will died at the age of sixteen as the heir to the Earldom of Mercia and awoke to find his father dead and his brother had inherited his title. Everyone thought Will was killed because of the witch burnings–because in hindsight Will knows those were innocent women his father sent to death. But the truth is turning out to be far more involved and complex than anything Will can imagine.

We’re introduced to a kind of villain hierarchy in this book. There are bad guys. Then the bosses of the bad guys. Then Lorcan Labraid, the evil of all evilness. Will’s never heard of him, but he’s certainly interested in Will. So is Wyndham, another unknown element hunting Will. All we know about Wyndham is that he’s scary enough even ghosts live in fear of his power. But Lorcan’s really our concern in this book, so he’s the villain I’ll focus on. Will and his readers are introduced to the fact he has a destiny almost from the get go: he wakes up, he needs blood, he finds someone he doesn’t think will be missed. But just before he can kill him, this squatter spews nonsense about Will and a girl–a girl he’s going to need. Now, if Will didn’t need this guys blood so much maybe he would have waited a second before sucking him dry. But he couldn’t and now the homeless guy is dead. All Will has to go on is nonsense scribbled inside his journal–a journal that also happens to have a sketch of a girl named Eloise.

Will’s been alone for hundreds of years, but it’s hard to be with a girl who tastes like dinner–no matter how pretty she might be. So Will is going to stay away from Eloise. He’s going to go back to his crypt and hibernate and forget all about the guy hunting him down. Except the ghosts that were haunting him are going after Eloise too. And when he listens, he can hear them. What they’re saying isn’t good.

I like the character building Wignall does here. Eloise is a smart heroine and there are a number of points in the story where she reacts in what I think is a perfectly reasonable manner. But there are moments with Will–particularly in the present, though sometimes in the flashbacks too–that take a long time to read. He spends a lot of time thinking. A lot of time brooding. And a lot more time wondering what’s going on. Rachel and Chris are classic stock characters at the moment, though I have high hopes for their development in the next book. In Blood they were just convenience characters. They helped move along the mystery a tinsy bit, but if their characters didn’t exist I think the story would have been just as well. There are hints at the end of Blood that there’s more to their place in the story than just being convenient.

This book can’t function as a stand-alone read. As the first in a series, some questions get answered but we’re left asking a whole lot more. Honestly, that was one of my main problems after finishing the book. I wasn’t satisfied with it at all, not because of the questions so much as the way they contributed to the let down at the end. Wignall does a great job of making sure his characters only know what they could realistically put together–he doesn’t take the easy way out as far as the mystery is concerned. Not only does this help build suspense, but it makes his characters more realistic. A good book, even if we do get a little bogged down in Will’s thought monologues. I definitely want to read the next one to find out who on earth all these villains are–as well as why Will is so important to them.

Notable Scene:

“Look in the mirrors–tell me what you see.”

He didn’t understand. “I told you, I cast a reflection.”

“No, I mean look in the mirrors.”

Out of the corner of his eye then he spotted something moving in the mirrors. He looked across the room, but there was nothing there. He drew closer and immediately saw that there were shadowy figures beyond the glass, as if they were windows looking on to some dulled room, just visible beyond the reflection of tiled walls.

They were hooded, wearing dark robes, so at first Will thought they were monks, but almost immediately he realized from their silhouettes that they were women. He tried to focus on their faces but couldn’t and every time one came close she seemed to keep her face hidden from him.

“They’re whispering,” he said because he could hear it now.

“I thought they were. Can you hear what they’re saying?”

“No,” he said, lying, not wanting to tell her what it was. “I can’t see their faces either.”

“I saw them,” she said, her voice sounding small. He turned to look at her and she said, “They don’t have any. They’re just blank, or almost blank.”

The Mercian Trilogy:

1. Blood

FTC Advisory: EgmontUSA provided me with a copy of Blood. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. ( )
  DarkFaerieTales | Feb 13, 2012 |
Isuppose this book does have its charm. But compared to other chick lit of the same genre, this book is missing something. The pull of it maybe. Sure there's lots of stuff happening, but its one of those stereotypical ancient vampire liking a girl kind of story usually goes. Then there's the villain, and how they try to find him, etc, etc.
Nothing really new. Their relationship is also not that believable if you ask me. But then again, I might be too hard on the book. ( )
  AceArtemis7 | Jan 6, 2012 |
This book sounds very intriguing and the idea is good but I feel like we get off to a rather slow start. Here we have a vampire that isn't your typical vamp. He mostly hibernates all of the time and only kills certain people, the people that he knows won't be missed. He almost has a conscious that makes him this goody two shoes. I think what makes this a little more on the boring side is that this vampire has lived for over 700 years and yet, his back story from living all those years isn't so fascinating. We're told briefly about time periods when he sleeps and awakes again and what it was like then, but we're not really told much of anything else.We are reminded however at how lonely he seems to be, how he continues to do the same thing time and time again when he awakes from his 'sickness'. He refuses for the first 75% of the novel to refer to being a vampire anything other than his sickness and then randomly launches into calling himself the undead just before he meets the vampire that created him in the first place. It took such a long time for this story to come together. I didn't actually get excited about the possibility of a second book until the very end when one small event turns out to be something rather large and very important to his future. And, this is when we realize that people are lying to him and even after 700 years, this guy is way too trusting of everyone. This isn't a bad story but some parts of it just make it a difficult read for me. Thanks to NetGalley for allowing me to review this book. ( )
  highflyer | Jan 3, 2012 |
This book sounds very intriguing and the idea is good but I feel like we get off to a rather slow start. Here we have a vampire that isn't your typical vamp. He mostly hibernates all of the time and only kills certain people, the people that he knows won't be missed. He almost has a conscious that makes him this goody two shoes. I think what makes this a little more on the boring side is that this vampire has lived for over 700 years and yet, his back story from living all those years isn't so fascinating. We're told briefly about time periods when he sleeps and awakes again and what it was like then, but we're not really told much of anything else.We are reminded however at how lonely he seems to be, how he continues to do the same thing time and time again when he awakes from his 'sickness'. He refuses for the first 75% of the novel to refer to being a vampire anything other than his sickness and then randomly launches into calling himself the undead just before he meets the vampire that created him in the first place. It took such a long time for this story to come together. I didn't actually get excited about the possibility of a second book until the very end when one small event turns out to be something rather large and very important to his future. And, this is when we realize that people are lying to him and even after 700 years, this guy is way too trusting of everyone. This isn't a bad story but some parts of it just make it a difficult read for me. Thanks to NetGalley for allowing me to review this book. ( )
  highflyer | Jan 3, 2012 |
Review originally posted on Pretty in Fiction.

Title: Blood
Author: K.J. Wignall
Publisher: Egmont USA
Published Date: September 5th 2011
Rating: 3 Stars

Blood by K.J. Wignall is not your average run of the mill, twenty first century vampire story. It is based on the classics. Will isn't a brooding vampire who drinks animal blood and attends high school. Will is an 800 year old vampire who kills people in order to stay alive. He sleeps in a coffin for decades at a time. He doesn't know the latest trends or wear hipster leather jackets. He lives in a crypt and tries to keep a collection of basic clothing that could pass in any century.

"'I do not remember being bitten. I wish I did, for then I would know the creature who did this to me and I would have a purpose, to track him down and repay him for the poisoned gift he gave me'

"Back in the Thirteenth Century, Will was destined to be Earl of Mercia, although he never lived to inherit his title. In the centuries that follow, Will has led a lonely life, learning to deal with whatever the present day throws at him, always searching for answers but never finding any. Until this time, when he awakens after a 20-year-slumber, hungry for the blood that sustains his undeath, when it appears that he is finally getting a glimpse at why he exists. He does indeed have a destiny, and an enemy, but revealing that fate will be a matter of trust..."

Courtesy of Goodreads


Now, like most people, I love a good modern vampire story. But there is just something so intriguing about seeing the classic myths at play in a novel. A vampire who can't go out in the sunlight, who is sensitive to bright lights. A vampire who is deathly afraid of fire and actually kills his victims! These are the vampires that haunted my nightmares as a child. They aren't and never will be that mysterious cute guy in biology class! (Not to rip on Twilight. I love Twilight!)

Anyway, Will doesn't want to be a vampire (so says almost ALL vampires). He hates the creature who turned him and wants revenge. But most of all he just wants to know why? Why did this person he's never met bite him and cause him so much pain and suffering over the last eight hundred years? What was the point? Especially if he was never going to show up and explain himself. No wonder the boy is confused, he's been living on his own for hundreds of years after clawing his way out of the grave. (I'll take a cute Carlisle Cullen explaining how to be a vamp over that any day!)

There were a few things I found a bit odd about the story. There are a lot of "coincidences" in Blood. To be honest, Will figures most situations out the moment they happen. Sort of like he's "in on it". The author, while trying to make Will clever, sort of just makes it clear that they're the one in control of the characters. It's clear that he's writing what Will is thinking. And I would prefer if my characters make me believe that they're real. I want the illusion that the characters thoughts are his own, not just a well planned out storyline.

But even with that, I kept reading. Something about the book just pulls you in. It's a very intriguing story and I did like the characters. I wanted to know where it was going, what was going to happen. I wanted to learn who could be behind everything and why they wanted Will.

All in all, I'd give Blood a total of 3 Crazy Hearts. If your a lover of classic vampire legends or are just looking for a change of pace, Blood is sure to keep you reading. ( )
  PrettyInFiction | Nov 21, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 160684220X, Hardcover)

Will is a vampire in danger. Heir to the Earl of Mercia, he was brutally attacked and buried in the thirteenth century before he was able to assume his title. Perpetually sixteen, Will’s life has been lonely. He leaves his tomb every so often, adapts to the present day, feeds his bloodlust, and never gets close to anyone.
Until now.

Waking from a twenty-year slumber, hungry for the blood that sustains his undeath, he meets Eloise—but can’t bear to make her his next victim. Drawn to a girl he can never have, but whose fate seems bound with his own, he feels the need to protect her. But Will has an enemy who will stop at nothing to find him . . . and he’s closing in. . . .

*SLJ Starred Review, Gr 8 Up –In 13th-century England, 16-year-old Will, heir to the Earl of Mercia, was attacked and bitten. In more than seven centuries as a vampire, he has spent years at a time in oblivious sleep and years awake, discovering piecemeal that the attack was not just a horrific accident, and that the repercussions are far from over. When he awakens in the 21st century, he is drawn instinctively to Eloise, a teen runaway, and he is certain she can help him. As other characters are introduced, suspense builds. Why does Jex, a vagrant, have Will’s name scribbled among the mysterious writings in his notebook? Why does Will’s long-healed bite wound flair and burn in the presence of café owners Chris and Rachel? The story ebbs and flows from the third person to Will’s own riveting narrative detailing his tragic few encounters with people over the years and his evolving philosophy about his situation and God. Moments of levity keep the story from abjectness and serve to highlight the realistic, modern-day setting. A recurring joke is Will’s ignorance of current parlance: “making out,” “vegan,” “ice hockey,” “born-again Christian.” Encounters with a shape-shifting villain, skeletal hands grasping from graves, whispering shadows reflected in mirrors, and a deadly chase through an Escher-esque cathedral library keep the elements of fantasy and drama high. Throughout this fast-paced and unique story, Wignall maintains a suspenseful, spooky mood with elegant, evocative prose. Enough loose ends are tied up to make for a satisfying conclusion, but a few tantalizing threads remain.–Jennifer Prince, Buncombe County Public Library, NC

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:41:57 -0400)

A centuries-old vampire wakes up in the modern day to find he is being hunted by an unknown enemy, and begins to uncover the secrets of his origin and the path of his destiny.

(summary from another edition)

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