After years of tyranny and bloodshed, the kingdom of Elevain is finally at peace. But it doesn’t take much to disrupt such a fragile state, and disruption this time comes by way of a horde of undead. King Ales, and his general and lover Darius, lead their army against the horde—but deception and treachery may kill them long before the undead.
Book – In the Blood
Author – Lucien Grey
Star rating – ★★★★★
No. of Pages – 52
Cover – Perfect!
POV – 3rd person, dual POV
Would I read it again – Yes
Genre – LGBT, Zombie, Fantasy
** COPY RECEIVED THROUGH NETGALLEY **
I’m a huge fan of zombies and the medieval style warriors that this book contains. This one has little elements that reminded me of my favourites, like Resident Evil and 13th Warrior, but mostly the latter.
This story does the super smart thing by starting right in the midst of the action. The writing has an air of medieval-esque atmosphere using the attention to detail with clothes, language and setting, to settle us in the ‘when’ and ‘where’ of the story. Obviously, as a fantasy story with zombies, it doesn’t have to specify a year or a location, or even a country, to help us follow the story. I loved that this was a kingdom who had been through a long and violent history, but who were now under the rule of a more benevolent king and he was doing all he could to keep them safe from this new threat. The fact that I felt so comfortable in this world, as a regular reader of fantasy, was a great piece of storytelling and world building, in my opinion. It contained all the elements of a fantasy novel that I’m used to, so even by adding in the zombies – an unusual, but genius idea – I was comfortable and familiar with what to expect.
I loved – LOVED – Ales. He was this strong and peaceful king, who had grown up a warrior and learned to take charge because he saw what happened when the previous king, his own grandfather, misused his position of power. But, through Darius’ recollections and POV, we also see this softer side, the one that really lets us connect to him before Ales gets his own POV later in the story. I was already loving the way he was a strong but gentle king and the way he treated his people, as well as Darius, before we saw the flashback to how they first met. But after I read that? Seriously, there was no loving him any more than I did after seeing how feisty and fun he used to be.
Darius, equally, was so intriguing. He was a general, but he wasn’t egotistical and gruff like some are, in fantasy stories. He had the hard exterior with the gooey centre and he’d do anything for Ales. At the same time, he’s also this strong, opinionated general who will make his own decisions about his men. I loved the way that he was slowly beginning to put the pieces of the puzzle together, about their traitor, but didn’t have the time or luxury of figuring it out because he was in the middle of a battle.
The characterisation was excellent, but the world building and the attention to detail was what really drew me in. The complexity of the plot, bringing zombies a hint of intelligence, while keeping them mindless monsters and then gradually revealing the who, what and why of how they had come into existence, was so cleverly done. I’ll admit, I had my suspicions about who and why, but the how and the overall revelation was still brilliantly executed.
Yes, on the down side, there were a few editing issues. However, looking them over, it’s a missing space here and there, joining two words and since this is an unformatted and unedited arc, I refuse to take points off for something that will be fixed before publishing. Besides, I highlighted them all and there were only fourteen in the entire story. That’s pretty decent, even for being unedited and unformatted.
Overall, a brilliant fantasy story for anyone familiar with the genre who wants a little something different. A great, understated, romance mixed amongst a whole lot of action, world building and zombies!