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House of Shadows (Volume 1) by Walter Spence

House of Shadows (Volume 1)

by Walter Spence

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3213347,362 (4.42)2



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Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
It isn't often that I sit down to read a few pages of a book and look up hours later as I finish the book. This is one such book. Oh my goodness! And it is the first in a series, so now my fingers are scrabbling to turn the page and find volume two somehow hidden on my Kindle.

This is a vampire book for adults -- no sparkly vampires here or ones who steal from blood banks. And yet, it isn't focused on horror, so there's really no gore, except as necessary. The book includes a vampire culture, mores, and society that are intriguing. The background is organic to the story, and I want to learn more about it.

There's a mystery to be solved and there are enough hooks thrown out to pull the reader in. Surface answers for some of those hooks are hinted at by the end, but I want to know more. There are suggestions that paranormal themes will surface in the next book.

Oh, and the author knows his North Carolina settings. It adds a layer of verisimilitude.

Where's my next book? Write, Walter, write! ( )
  Jean_Sexton | Mar 24, 2015 |
Eugene has a difficult life with his sister, impoverished and with a mother who is, at best, neglectful and at worst outright abusive it is not a life with many opportunities. So when Penelope, a wealthy, generous benefactor appears to give them every advantage it seems like a wonderful gift and that they’re finally given a chance at life.

That is, until the price arises and one of them has to die. Faced with an impossible choice, Eugene elects to be Penelope’s prey – but death is hardly the end of Penelope’s plotting. After decades of unconsciousness, Eugene arises as one of the Breed and the last scion of a major House whose legacy (and his continued existence) requires him to learn extremely quickly.

There are a lot of vampire books out there and it sometimes feel like many of them are telling very similar tales. It’s always a pleasure, therefore, to find a book that seems to be bringing some genuinely unique elements to the genre and some fresh angles. Eugene’s reluctant passage into vampirehood, how he was moulded before transition, even following his journey from childhood adds its own angle.

In terms of pacing, it started slow, introducing us to the characters and bringing us towards the inevitable. Thankfully, once we get that transition, we hit the ground running. Eugene has to learn a lot about his new life extremely quickly and nothing is going to stop to allow him to catch up. There were a couple of tangents that were, perhaps, not entirely necessary but I think they all added up into building the character, the worlds and different facets of the story.

The world building is nicely restrained. It’s clear, especially if the lexicon in the back, that this is a very broad world and a lot of work has gone into characterising it. But the author resists the temptation to dump vast amounts of unrelated information on us. In fact, in keeping with Eugene’s own confusion, we often have words and references used and have to extrapolate their meaning. Like Eugene we’re plunged into a world we don’t know and have to keep up and learn as we go. I think this lack of explanation both keeps the story moving and excellently conveys the theme of being out of depth, of being overwhelmed by the new information he was faced with.

The decisions made by the characters, while not always perfect, were well informed – or, at least, based on reasonable emotion and didn’t frustrate me. The action stayed good and the story progressed well.

I found no great flaws in this book – but I did find a couple of minor stumbling blocks.

The first stumbling block I found in this book was the language. It’s not as bad as some books out there, certainly, but it is overly elaborate and overly formal. Part of that is because Eugene is trying to “better” himself with a determination to be educated and well spoken after Penelope gives him the resources. It’s even lampshaded in the book with his sister accusing him of having swallowed a thesaurus. But this language starts long before he meets Penelope and is used in everything from dialogue to describing action. Sometimes I think a more casual tone would have been better.

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  FangsfortheFantasy | Sep 20, 2013 |
Eh, another 'jump on the wagon' vampire book. While I appreciate the fantasy worlds that are allowed to be created in this genre, the story line of Ace, true name Eugene is not interesting, nor is it believable. I find myself asking a lot of 'back story' questions, like "why does that happen" or "is this allowed in this world". Fantasy is great; but this fantasy is not believable. ( )
  kristincedar | Aug 31, 2013 |
I received this book via Library Thing's Member Giveaways.

This was a very different take on vampire lore, with regard to the classic assumptions such as garlic, immortality, becoming a vampire, people who are in service to vampires, etc.

The story overall was good with great world building. Spence made the characters interesting (if not very sympathetic, including our protagonist). Spence's vampires are dark, violent, untrusting, and old fashioned.

There were times where I wasn't sure how Eugene got from place to place, and some of the fight scenes were confusing, usually because they introduced new characters or concepts.

I think the glossary should have been at the beginning. There were a lot of unfamiliar words introduced here. ( )
  leesalogic | May 19, 2013 |
A creative, detailed, and surprising story. I haven't read vampire stories since I read a few by Anne Rice, but this one was really very interesting, and I'm glad I took a chance.
Vampires are a bloody sort, literally. I don't like to read about the blood, the killing for it or any of that vampire stuff, at all. I always feel sorry for the one who is changed, or killed, and never understood why anyone would want to be a vampire. Silly, I'm sure, but just one of my aversions. So when a book comes along about vampires, it has to have a story line that is captivating enough for me to skirt over the blood issue. This story was just that. I remember one part was so surprising, I reacted out loud. I love it when the author can create a web so unexpected you have absolutely no choice but to react. That is a good book. From a good author.
The ending leaves you wanting more. Not more vampire blood stuff for me, but more information on the characters, the story line, what's going on and what will happen next. Don't get me wrong, the story gave you answers for now, but you realize there is more to the big picture. And even though you wonder about it, you just know that the author will surprise you again. This is not a book that you feel you know what the outcome will be. At least it wasn't for me, and that is a good thing. There has been many a book where I knew very early on what was going to happen and how it was going to end.
There obviously will be one or more sequels to this book and fortunately there is no way you can imagine what will happen in book two before it gets here. Interestingly, the details Walter weaves into the story made me wonder if it was all created, or researched somewhat on what was written about certain things or a mixture of both. Wondering about things like that mean you are caught up in the story. When that happens, you know the story was well done.
Walter Spence will not bore you, irritate you, or even placate you, but he will captivate you with a spin and tale you won't see coming, taking you down a path you can't wait to tread, with a book you're glad you picked up. Here's an author that can grab your attention and keep it well past the end of the book as you wait for the next one to be released. He says he has a thousand stories running through his head. I'm glad to hear it. ( )
  colleenmbratley | May 1, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
A good writing style with excellent character development.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0985483709, Paperback)

The Sleeper has awakened, hear the call! Houses, witness the breaking of the seal. To part his flesh, the edge of doom shall fall, And spill his blood, his purpose to reveal. Their origins lie in a distant and almost forgotten past. Though humanity refers to them as vampires, they have long had another name for themselves. The Breed. Since the days of Coloque, the Separation, they have dwelled among us (but not of us), hidden by a protective cloak of ignorance and superstition which has shielded them as their wealth and power have grown. Their society is represented by twelve Great Houses, each a law unto themselves, answering to no one outside of their own familial walls for untold centuries. Those days are no more. For a hidden terror has surfaced, threatening Breed and human alike. One by one the scions of House Ember have vanished, swallowed by a secret and frigid darkness now threatening those Houses which yet remain. And their last hope has lain somnolent for decades within the shimmering clouds of a silver dream. Until now. For the Sleeper has awakened.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:08 -0400)

Eugene and his sister, Barb, lived a hardscrabble life. Their father was gone, their mother wasn't the parenting type, and it was up to Eugene to make sure the family got by the best they could. However, when a beautiful woman convinced Eugene that life would be easier as a vampire, or one of the Breed, as they call themselves, Eugene found that "easier" isn't always better. Now, an ancient foe has arisen and threatens the Breed and humans alike, and the two races must work together or face extinction.… (more)

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