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Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth

Title:  Blood Oath

Author:  Christopher Farnsworth

No. of Pages:  400

First Released:  May 18, 2010

Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books): “The ultimate secret. The ultimate agent. The President’s vampire.

Zach Barrows is an ambitious young White House staffer whose career takes an unexpected turn when he’s partnered with Nathaniel Cade, a secret agent sworn to protect the president. But Cade is no ordinary civil servant. Bound by a special blood oath, Cade has spent more than 140 years in service to the president, battling nightmares before they can break into the daylight world of the American dream.

Immediately Zach and Cade receive their first joint assignment: one that uncovers a shadowy government conspiracy and a plot to attack the Unites States with a gruesome new biological weapon. Zach soon learns that the world is far stranger, and far more dangerous, than he ever imagined . . . and that his partner is the least of his problems.”

Comments and Critique: 
I like vampires…a lot.  This is a love affair that started with Bram Stoker’s Dracula, read way back in elementary school.  Vampires used to be for adults only – scary, threatening, evil, and yet sexy – and I was okay with that.  Then, the trend became to make them young, cool, still sexy, but not so evil; I was okay with that trend too.  However, every once in a while, it does not hurt to go back to your roots, to where vampires were evil, scary and not friendly.  Blood Oath does just that.  Frightening and gory, these vampires are truly monsters.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself on every page.

One of the surprising, better aspects of the book was the fact that it read like a screenplay.  As a result, the entire book was extremely visual and engaging.  There was the opening scene that hinted at what was to come, the closing scene that was a prelude to the next adventure in the story, a gratuitous sex scene, violence, language – in essence it was a rated R movie in book form.  While this might seem like a turnoff, it worked very well with the story.  Mr. Farnsworth is able to take the more visual aspects of the story and blend it seamlessly with the narration, allowing the reader to better empathize with each of the characters and thereby become more involved in the story itself. 

Every time vampires appear in stories, the inevitable questions about death, mortality, free will, and monsters come to the fore.  Again, Mr. Farnsworth bends these questions to better tell his story.  How far should one go to cheat death?  What makes a monster?  If someone (or something) is acting within its nature, can we really fault them for it?  Can we be happy without free will?  While the book does not hold the answers, the reader is left with something to ponder long after reading the last page.

History, vampires, and a thriller – Blood Oath is literally the trifecta of awesomeness.  A reader cannot help but fear and yet cheer Cade through his struggles.  Zach is laughable but endearing, in a little brother-ish way.  Mr. Farnsworth adds enough depth through his questions to make it more than just a quick page-turner.  Blood Oath is complex in its ideas and detailed in its research and unique spin of history.  Cade is not your teenager’s vampire, and Blood Oath is not your typical light-hearted vampire fare.  I cannot wait for the next book in the series, and I predict that others will be anxiously waiting along with me. 

Thank you to Lydia Hirt at Putnam Books for my advanced reading copy! 

Image: Signature Block

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