Generally I’ve never gotten excited over steam-punk novels. I haven’t read many of them, but the ones that I have haven’t exactly been something that would have me running back to the genre. That being said, when I first read the description for The Greyfriar by Clay and Susan Griffith, it had captured my interest, and I figured that this one might be different than my previous experiences.
In the year 1870, a horrible plague of vampires swept over the northern regions of the world. Millions of humans were killed outright. Millions more died of disease and famine due to the havoc that followed. Within two years, once great cities were shrouded by the grey empire of the vampire clans. Human refugees fled south to the tropics because vampires could not tolerate the constant heat there. They brought technology and a feverish drive to reestablish their shattered societies of steam and iron amid the mosques of Alexandria, the torrid quietude of Panama, or the green temples of Malaya.
It is now 2020 and a bloody reckoning is coming.
Princess Adele is heir to the Empire of Equatoria, a remnant of the old tropical British Empire. She is quick with her wit as well as with a sword or gun. She is eager for an adventure before she settles into a life of duty and political marriage to man she does not know. But her quest turns black when she becomes the target of a merciless vampire clan. Her only protector is The Greyfriar, a mysterious hero who fights the vampires from deep within their territory. Their dangerous relationship plays out against an approaching war to the death between humankind and the vampire clans.
The Greyfriar: Vampire Empire is the first book in a trilogy of high adventure and alternate history. Combining rousing pulp action with steampunk style, The Greyfriar brings epic political themes to life within a story of heartbreaking romance, sacrifice, and heroism.
I am most happy to say that the blurb didn’t lead me astray. The Greyfriar is am alternate history, steampunk novel that just took me for an unforgettable ride. In The Greyfriar series the world was taken over in a bloody conquest by vampires, most notably in the north. Vampires can stand sunlight, but heat is not something they can tolerate. So, those humans that lived, or were able to escape to, continents near the equator have survived and thrived creating their own cultures and traditions.
That’s where Adele comes in. She is the heir and princess of Alexandria, a kingdom that is comprised of Egypt, Africa, and other surrounding countries, who has been promised to an important man from America. America being the other nation that was able to survive. This man, Senator Clark, is a famous vampire killer, and therefore a hero amongst the humans. Adele doesn’t know her betrothed, but she realizes that it is her duty and she will dutifully marry Senator Clark. The joining of the two most powerful human nations is a precursor to declaring war against the vampires. Everyone is aware of this, and the job of garnering support from other smaller nations falls to Adele. She and her younger brother, prince Simon, are sent with a guard to show that Alexandria won’t forget those nations bordering the Vampire Empire.
Princess Adele was a great lead. In the beginning of The Greyfriar, she was strong and kind, but she still had an air of royalty – that of someone who is used to being served and pampered. When her journey starts underway however, she slowly morphs into this warrior type. Someone who doesn’t cower in fear when the vampires, who are in every sense of the word stronger than any humans, are threatening her. She stands up and fights against them instead.
Greyfriar is the other main character in The Greyfriar. Thought to be a fairy tale by most humans, something akin to Robin hood, Greyfriar is this masked man who fights for humans against the vampires. I loved Greyfriar as the hero in this book. Obviously with that mask always so firmly in place, Greyfriar has some big secrets. Ones that are revealed, and that are shocking upon their revelation. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just say that his character quickly became my favorite. His chemistry with Adele is undeniable, but with a war looming there is no way that they can be together.
The plot in The Greyfriar was something that had me on the edge of my seat. There was unrequited love, diabolical vampires, and journeys to unknown lands. Everything that almost guarantees that I’ll be engrossed in it.
Overall, I loved The Greyfriar. The characters were likable and those that were human were very real and diverse. Nothing about them was perfect, and yet they were constantly fighting and never giving up hope. Not to mention that the story is almost surely going to capture everyone’s attention. Anybody who’s looking for a good story should definitely pick this one up, I’m sure glad that I did.