Note: I received a free copy of this book from Online Book Club in exchange for an honest review. You can check out both the novel and other reviews here.
I have a lot of opinions on this book, some quite positive, some quite negative. There were points that I never wanted to put it down, and there were others when I never wanted to pick it up again. Nightlord: Sunset is the first in the Nightlord series and is a pretty lengthy read. It’s fantasy (which I love), and heavily features vampires, but don’t let that put you off! The vampiric elements were arguably the best of the novel.
The description of the book that I read was pretty spoiler intensive, so I’m going to sum it up in my own words.
Eric is pretty much your every-man. He’s on the nerdy side, loves teaching, and was, until recently, in a steady relationship. But when out of nowhere his girlfriend decides she no longer wants to marry him, his life starts to spin out of control. He wakes up one morning in bed with a mysterious woman named Sasha, with what feels like the world’s worst hangover. A hangover that only hits at sunset and sunrise, everyday? And that comes with a desire to feed on blood and spirit? Eric must come to grips with what he is and by result, who he is as these life-changing discoveries continue to fly at him. He must deal with grief and anger all while trying to locate the group of fanatics trying to hunt him down, who happen to be from an entirely different world. Will Eric be able to cope with the insanity that his life has become, and stay true to the good man he always thought he was? Or does absolute power corrupt absolutely? And most importantly, is it possible to be both a bloodsucking fiend of evil and a hero?
I thought this novel had a really strong start. It begins with a disclaimer written by our protagonist, and right away sucks you in. I have to say that those first couple chapters had me hooked. Whited writes Eric effortlessly, in a way that he feels like a guy that you actually know. Whether you like him or not may be a different story, but he feels very real, so I applaud Whited on that.
While people tend to cringe away from vampires, I really suggest that you don’t let that deter you. Whited eases you into the idea. Rather than coming out and saying, “Well, you’re a vampire now”, he introduces it in a more subtle way that still gets the point across. It isn’t until later in the book that the word ‘vampire’ is actually used. I thought the take on the creature was something original without straying too far from the monster we love to fear. He twisted some of the traits to make it his own, and I really liked that. These vampires don’t just feed on a human’s blood, but on their spirit too. In fact, it’s that ‘life spark’ that keeps a vampire sustained the most. In a way, they have their own magic, Eric moreso than anyone else. From being able to heal fatal wounds to create a metal, yet very much alive horse, his talents are really intriguing and definitely one of the more enjoyable aspects of the novel.
Whited gives vampires a purpose, which I don’t often see done. I don’t want to spoil it because it really is quite brilliant, but I absolutely loved the whole concept of giving this supposed monster a purpose and meaningful existence. I thought it was one of the best parts of Nightlord. It’s also interesting to note that Whited makes it very clear that there are multiple kinds of vampires. We don’t meet them, but they do exist or have existed in the past. Which means for you Dracula lovers, or twi-hards, there could be something in there for you, too.
I liked the use of comedy throughout the story because it wasn’t at all forced. Some of the more comedic moments were in the small details. For example, one of the elves that Eric meets has a name that he cannot pronounce or remember. So instead, he refers to him as Bob. They’ll be in the middle of this intense scene, a serious conversation on battle, and all of a sudden the name ‘Bob’ is said in this fantasy epic. It’s wacky, like Eric, and kind of suits the tone of the book in a weird way! The best part, however, was without a doubt Eric’s sword, Firebrand. Firebrand has the soul of a dragon, and so can communicate with whoever he wishes. He’s kind of psychotic but also very hilarious, never failing to make the reader laugh. Oddly enough, a sword is one of the best characters in the book.
The novel needed a lot of editing. I found many typos and there were certain sentences that used too many pronouns, therefore confusing the reader as to who was saying what, or what exactly was happening. I also found that it was too repetitive. For example, Eric always refers to himself as a “bloodsucking fiend of darkness”. It was witty and amusing the first couple of times, but soon felt very tired. Near the end of the book, he says that he was finally starting to wish he could have a hot shower, but he had complained about that fact countless times before that point. Small things like that, or even rephrasing of sentences would have improved the story quite a bit.
The thing that I disliked the most, however, was that at multiple points Eric, as a protagonist, seemed rather sexist! Sasha, who turns him into a vampire, has lived through centuries and so obviously has more experience than he does. She teaches him how to fence, and he is in constant disbelief that a woman is better than him. He at multiple times assumes that other females are not capable, seemingly because of their gender. He also at one point says that men are concerned with staying alive and strong, whereas women want to be young and beautiful. It was stereotypes like these that made the book, at times, very hard to get through for me.
Other than that, I did think Whited could have wrapped certain plots up in a nicer way. There were a lot of loose ends, and even though this is the first in the series, there were certain questions that needed to be answered, or at least mentioned again, but weren’t. Overall, I really liked Whited’s take on vampires, as well as the magical elements. For those, I would recommend the book. But there were too many flaws for me to want to read the rest of the series. As such, I would rate it 3/5 stars. It was alright, but definitely not something that I’d read again.
Be sure to check out the book and other reviews here, at Online Book Club. A lot of people really enjoyed it, so feel free to check out their thoughts!