Forget the lovelorn vampires - these are downright spooky
Vampyre Labyrinth: Dust Blood
By GP Taylor
Published by Faber and Faber
ISBN 978 0 571 22696 2
Award-winning British author GP Taylor had brought us chills and adventure in Shadowmancer, Wormwood and the Mariah Mundi trilogy. A year ago, Taylor first took readers into the Vampyre Labyrinth, putting the vampire back where he (or she) belonged in fiction, sucking blood in the shadows.
The romantic, handsome and misunderstood vampire hero is not for Taylor. Vampyre Labyrinth goes back to the greatest vampire novel of them all, Bram Stoker's Victorian masterpiece Dracula, for inspiration. Taylor sets his series in the spooky northeastern English port of Whitby, which Stoker also used to great effect in one of the most thrilling sequences in Dracula.
Taylor is certainly on to a winner with the Vampyre Labyrinth. Redeye, the first novel, set up an appealing teenage hero, a thrilling plot and a whole cryptful of classic spooky characters.
The story continues in the chilling sequel, Dust Blood. Young Jago Harker is trying to come to terms with his new life at Hawks Moor, a vast mansion on the outskirts of Whitby.
His first few weeks in the town had been a nightmare as he became caught up in a battle between factions of ancient vampyres. Redeye ended with a mighty sea wave sweeping away the Vampyre Labyrinth and its occupants. Or did it?
You can't keep a good vampyre down, and soon fear is again stalking Whitby. A madman is on the loose, searching out and killing anyone with vampyre blood in their veins.
Jago's friend Biatra is a vampyre, and it is only a matter of time before the mysterious hunter discovers her secret. Jago must find the magical 'dust blood' that can reverse Biatra's condition, but an enemy of great strength has need of Jago's blood for very powerful purposes.
As in Redeye, betrayal and mistrust play a suspenseful part in Dust Blood. Jago is stabbed in the back by almost everyone he trusts. Surprise and danger lurk around every corner. Friends he had grown to trust during his first encounter with the ancient vampyres are not what they seem. Jago is alone in his fight against evil.
The book opens with a relentlessly chilling standalone sequence, and the dark tone set here continues to the final page. This is a chiller/thriller; Taylor does not soft-pedal around the chills. Criticism has been thrown at him for keeping Vampyre Labyrinth so dark and uncompromising, but he is right to do so, and the result is an effective piece of young adult fiction.
The emphasis may lean towards the adult rather than the young reader, but older teens will be able to take all of Dust Blood in their sophisticated stride with no harm done. Rich in character and setting, and cleverly plotted, this tale of supernatural double-dealings is Taylor at his complex, unnerving best.
John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.com