Author: Edward Kendrick
Publisher: Wilde City Press
Pages/Word Count: 64 Pages
At a Glance: A good deal of missed opportunity
Blurb: Since his turning in 1022 young spy, François, has hated all humans. And yet, in 1347, he falls in love with one, only to be betrayed by Giles who tells his liege lord that François is a vampire. The lord blackmails François into spying for him. Years later, François gains his revenge on Giles through his son.
In 1876 New Orleans, François joins forces with Vasile, a master of the city, to take on human vampire hunters. Then Vasile’s human lover dies and Vasile turns to François for comfort. Will love ensue, or is François destined to always be alone?
Review: L’histoire de Francois… is a paranormal historical novella that’s quite sweeping in its scope, as far as time period goes. It’s also the first volume of what looks to be a novella series centering on Francois, a young Frenchman who’s turned into a vampire and subsequently becomes a pawn for humans in times of war or bitter political rivalry. It’s a clever use of vampirism, really, seeing as how vampires are immortals and can withstand torture should they be caught spying. Francois – whose last name’s never revealed, but he comes from aristocratic stock – has a pretty rich history, which includes his turning, but we’re really not given much to savor.
The first half of the book focuses on Francois’s past, and the second half skips forward a few centuries and moves the action from France to New Orleans. Because of the novella’s length (about 20K words), so much history covered in such a short book means a lot of summaries and details left out. And that’s too bad because Francois’s history is incredibly rich and fascinating, and that doesn’t include his turning. He’s a seasoned spy at twenty-three, he comes from a line of nobles, and he’s got a bit of a rivalry going on with his older brother, Lothaire, who becomes peripherally instrumental in Francois’s fate. Since his family knows nothing about his secret life, the resulting tension or even perhaps ambivalence in Francois could’ve been explored.
As it happens, though, only his time with Giles is given some attention, and even then, it still has a rushed quality to it. The result of this for me was a lack of emotional connection with Francois. I felt no sympathy for him, even during those moments spent with Giles, and everything seemed so ephemeral and barely fleshed out that I didn’t care much about him by the end of the book. There’s a good deal of missed opportunity, and I wished the book just focused on the events of the first half, expanding Francois’s past and his experiences with Giles and the aftermath of Giles’ betrayal. If anything, the only real sense of emotion I got from the book was how much Francois hated humans, and that’s only because we’re always reminded of that fact, not necessarily shown or allowed to explore those experiences that ultimately led him to that much loathing.
The setting’s also not fully established or described in enough detail as to firmly plant the reader in both time and place. Besides the more generalized references to cities, we don’t really get to “see” Francois’s world, regardless of time period. And that just added to the diminishment of any emotional connection I might’ve enjoyed with the hero.
As this is the first book in a series, however, it probably serves a more general purpose of establishing Francois’s past, and the rest of the novellas following it might offer us something meatier to sink our teeth into – no pun intended.
You can buy L’histoire de François: Vampire (Mortal Angst #1) here: