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The Fifth House of the Heart by Ben Tripp
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The Fifth House of the Heart (2015)

by Ben Tripp

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I've Been Bitten!! Oh yes, I've been bitten by a vampire and have turned into a true vampire fan! The Fifth House of Heart was excellent! It had a great storyline, a colorful, diverse cast of vampire hunters and yep, you got it- vampires! Even if you think you're not a vampire fan, I recommend giving this book a try anyways. Tripp really blended the vampires and hunters into the story to make their existence and the story believable which I think is important and it made the book that much better. I can't believe I've been missing out on so many great authors of vampire novels because I thought vampires were not my thing. Well boy was I wrong! So to satiate my vampire fever, I'm hunting for more blood, I mean books now!
 
**I won this ARC from Goodreads First Reader program in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Gallery Books and Goodreads!
  ( )
  EmpressReece | Aug 22, 2016 |
Ben Tripp’s vampires are an interesting blend of science and science fiction. His removal of the supernatural element in favor of a more clinically scientific one is a chilling switch that takes the vampire world from improbable to possible, however unlikely. Without an element of magic, evolutionary changes resulting in the vampirism Sax battles is that much more frightening.

Mr. Tripp does not capitalize on this as effectively as he could. There is a dearth of specifics when it comes to detailing the characteristics of these vampires, which somewhat lessens the threat to Sax and his motley group. While there is no doubt that these vampires are extremely dangerous, readers only gleam the true extent of that danger in murky snippets. For, Sax, in all of his explanations, assumes his audience either understands the danger or should remain as ignorant and therefore as innocent as possible. The end result is an impressionistic portrait of the monsters which are less frightening than they would be if there was starker details.

Similarly, Sax is quite the character and one by rights readers should embrace and love. Sadly, the use of derogatory phrases to describe his sexual preferences and behaviors will confuse readers because of their very un-PC nature. It is as if Mr. Tripp uses Sax to declare his tolerance by creating a creature that flaunts every stereotype in existence, but he uses inflammatory language to do so. Moreover, one cannot get through a single descriptive paragraph without a reminder of Sax’s sexual proclivities. While it is a delight to see a character so thoroughly comfortable in his own skin, overtly and happily flouting societal norms, the language Mr. Tripp uses gives the impression that he is not quite so accepting as he wants readers to believe because Sax’s homosexuality never fades into the background or become a nonissue as it should.

No matter what Mr. Tripp may or may not feel towards his main character, in Sax he created a fun character who fully embraces life and his own flaws to live strictly on his terms. His unapologetic nature and acknowledgement of his greed and cowardice only add to his complexity. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast do not measure up to Sax’s spiciness. Rather, they fade into the background besides his showiness. There is also a distinct lack of development in everyone else that minimizes a reader’s emotional involvement. In turn, this lessens the shock value of any character deaths which then diminishes the horror readers will feel.

While The Fifth House of the Heart tries to be an old-fashioned horror novel, it never quite lives up to that distinction. It certainly is gory enough, as Mr. Tripp does not shy away from detailed descriptions of the damage inflicted by pointy objects. Unfortunately, the lack of character development and other flaws within the story diminish the suspense. Without that, it becomes difficult to generate terrore. The result is a gorefest of a novel with glimpses of brilliance but which ultimately leaves a lot of that brilliance unharvested.
  jmchshannon | Jul 21, 2015 |
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****4 out of 5 stars
Review by: Mark Palm
Antiques and Vampires.

Even if it goes without saying, I am going to say it again; there are a ton of books about vampires out there. I am not going to take up my cudgel and start bashing the trend, but will instead just say that this novel, The Fifth House of the Heart, by Ben Tripp proves that it is possible to breathe fresh life into a tried and true concept.

What really makes this book such a delight is the characters. All of the vampire-hunters, from Emily to Min, Rock, Paolo, Gheorghe, and Abingdon are all fully-realized, with quirks and depth. The real prize however, is Sax. Most of the book’s third-person narration is from his point of view, and with him Mr. Tripp has created a character who’s story I would follow if he did next to nothing. When you take such a character, and throw him into gripping, life-threatening situations, he absolutely blooms. I am really sorry that I had to read this book in an ARC format, because almost every page had a line that I would just love to quote. The writing, and Sax’s voice, is erudite, witty and funny, and occasionally even wise. Mr. Tripp mixes humor with horror with such ease that I almost forgot how difficult is really is. Yet over and over again I found myself laughing one moment and gasping the next.

Asmodeus “Sax” Saxon-Tang is a wealthy, aging antiques dealer who loves the good life and beautiful things. He outbids a woman for a clock at an auction, and later the clock is stolen and his watchman is murdered. This starts the adventure when Sax figures that the guilty party is a vampire. Perhaps one that that had crossed his path before, and he decides that he must hunt it down, not so much for his own safety but for his niece, Emily. Sax is a self-professed coward, but two times in his past his greed has forced him to tangle with vampires, and both time he barely escaped with his life. He did, however, also come away with a fortune in antiques.

So once again he finds himself forming a rag-tag team of vampire hunter, and with the aid of a secret arm of the Catholic Church, going off on one last adventure that may end with a load of priceless artifacts, or his own death. As Sax assembles his team and makes his plans we are treated to flash-backs of his first two encounters with Vampires. These two adventures, one in the 1960’s and the other in the 80’s, mesh beautifully with the current story-line, each supporting and informing the other. Mr. Tripp has a real flair for action, and the tension he engenders is palpable.

I am almost loathe to do it, but I have to talk about the vampires a bit. Mr. Tripp does an exceptional job of keeping a lot of the basic concepts the same, but making subtle but relevant changes, so that his vampires are familiar, yet different enough to be startling and new. It shows that even the oldest tropes can be brought to life when a skilled writer takes them on.

As this book nears the end, Mr. Tripp ups the ante, and the action and the pace accelerates until the slam-bang ending, which answers all of our questions, but raises just enough new ones to make for a satisfying ending, but leaves room for a bit more. I almost never say this, but in this case, I would love a sequel.

Full reviews available at: http://www.thebookendfamily.weebly.co...
 
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"Filled with characters as menacing as they are memorable, this chilling twist on vampire fiction packs a punch in the bestselling tradition of 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King. Asmodeus "Sax" Saxon-Tang, a vainglorious and well-established antiques dealer, has made a fortune over many years by globetrotting for the finest lost objects in the world. Only Sax knows the true secret to his success: at certain points of his life, he's killed vampires for their priceless hoards of treasure. But now Sax's past actions are quite literally coming back to haunt him, and the lives of those he holds most dear are in mortal danger. To counter this unnatural threat, and with the blessing of the Holy Roman Church, a cowardly but cunning Sax must travel across Europe in pursuit of incalculable evil--and immeasurable wealth--with a ragtag team of mercenaries and vampire killers to hunt a terrifying, ageless monster...one who is hunting Sax in turn. From author Ben Tripp, whose first horror novel Rise Again "raises the stakes so high that the book becomes nearly impossible to put down" (Cory Doctorow, author of Little Brother), The Fifth House of the Heart is a powerful story that will haunt you long after its final pages"--… (more)

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