The Greyfriar by Clay and Susan Griffith

Meet the author! As part of our Haunted Happenings series of ghostly events for adults, Clay Griffith will be at Cameron Village Regional Library on Thursday, October 18 at 7 p.m. Please call 919-856-6710 to RSVP or for more information.

Ever since Bram Stoker popularized the vampire novel with Dracula, other authors have added to the myths & lore of the nosferatu. The husband and wife writing team of Clay & Susan Griffith have continued this tradition with the vampires in their novels. These vampires prefer cold, or at least cool, climates, they have clans with “noble” rulers, they do cast a reflection in a mirror, and while they don’t turn into bats, they can fly. They are also not undead humans nor do they turn humans into vampires by biting them, although they do feed on them.

The Greyfriar is also much more than just a vampire novel. As of the year 2020, the war between vampires and humans has been going on for 150 years, since 1870 when the bloodthirsty monsters rose up against mankind and laid waste to the great civilizations of the Northern hemisphere. Descendants of Britain’s leaders have relocated to Alexandria, Egypt, and The United State’s power is now consolidated in Central America. So, because history has taken quite a different path since just after the Civil War, this is also a novel of alternate history. And, because humanity had to spend time re-organizing and relocating the former powers of the north in the equatorial regions, technology has not yet surpassed that of the steam age. The great powers of Equatoria and America both possess flying airships and for weapons cannons, Gatling guns, pistols and swords are all used. Thus, this novel is also in the Steampunk genre.

In the story Princess Adele travels under royal guard (by airship, of course) to the borderlands of the north. The trip is one of goodwill with the borderlands, as it has been arranged that Adele will marry (pompous) war hero Senator Clark of America, a marriage that will tie the two great powers together and make them both stronger than they could ever be alone. This is the first time Adele has been this far north and her airship is attacked by a great number of vampires. Most of the guards and crew are killed as the ship is grounded and Adele is saved by the swashbuckling hero of legend: the Greyfriar. She is now stuck behind enemy lines and only the Greyfriar’s great skill at fighting and his knowledge of the countryside allow them to escape.

Soon, Adele is captured by Cesare, younger son of the vampire king Dmitri. His older brother Gareth – an unusually intelligent, refined and curious vampire – lays claim to the prisoner and treats Adele with a kindness that she initially distrusts. When the clans start clamoring for renewed war, Adele is taken into Scotland, where the benevolent Gareth’s castle lies. Gareth and Adele gradually get to know each other and she reluctantly comes to think of him as more than a monster. In fact, much of the later part of the novel is reminiscent of the story of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. So, in addition to being a steampunk, alternate history, vampire tale, there’s a bit of romance thrown in too. I certainly enjoyed this first book in the Vampire Empire series, and hope you will too.

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