The Midnight Guardian by Sarah Jane Stratford
When I was first pitched “The Midnight Guardian” I was incredibly skeptical. One of the first things I read about it was that the plot included vampires vs. Nazis and, really, that has the potential for cheesy disaster. However, the publicist who pitched it to me had so much obviously genuine excitement for this book, that I figure I might as well give it a try.
Brigit (formally Brigantia) is one of the Millennials, the vampires who have lived (as it were) for over 1,000 years. She grew up in a Britain where Vikings, not Normans were the concern, only to be ‘turned’ by a vampire named Aelrich. A quarter of a millennium later, she ‘turned’ the man who would become the vampire Eamon, her greatest love. Now, however, it is 1940 and something far more insidious than vampires is being unleashed on the world: The Third Reich. In addition to their targeting of Jews, homosexuals, gypsies, and the disabled, Hitler and his minions are also attempting to rid the Continent of vampires, calling in vampire hunters to train a special SS legion called the nachtspeere. Brigit and the rest of the British Millennials can’t just sit around while Hitler attacks vampires, though, so they decide to find a way to stop him. Besides, when humans kill each other too much, vampires experience famines and often try to kill each other in vampire wars.
Let me start by saying that this book was NOT full of cheesy terribleness. In fact, I’ll go even farther to say that I really enjoyed it. I quickly became enamored of the character of Brigit, she was pretty multi-dimensional for one of the soulless undead. There was more sex and violence than I tend to like in my reads, but for the most part it wasn’t TOO graphic. Well, the violence was occasionally a little graphic, but I’ve read worse sex scenes in historical fiction. For a vampire book it wasn’t particularly scary, although it could be quite suspenseful, especially as Brigit’s storyline on the train unfolded.
“The Midnight Guardian” skipped around in time periods a bit, sometimes back and forth between different months in the same year, which was difficult to get used to at first, but didn’t detract from the story overall. The strangest thing about this book, though, was rooting for the vampires. These aren’t wussy “oh, I’m a vegetarian” Twilight-vampires, these are the real thing, vampires of legend. Brutal beasts who seduce of scare their prey to give it some extra flavor. And yet, they aren’t complete monsters. They don’t go on killing sprees just for the fun of it (except when it is Nazi-killing time!), they are simply predators and we are their prey. They are also intelligent beings with great affection for one another and they are SYMPATHETIC. At least, they are when they are killing Nazis.
Really, really enjoyed this one. I don’t know that I would want to read other, similar books, but I DO know that I want to read the rest of the books in this series when Sarah Jane Stratford writes them (although this is the first in a series, it definitely stands alone) – especially if they are published like this one was, around Halloween.
This book was sent to me for review by Sarah with St. Martin’s Press.