Saturday, July 13, 2013

Those Who Hunt the Night, by Barbara Hambly

Rating: 5/5
Publisher: Del Rey
340 pages
Source: Borrowed from family

Description: The vampires had been living in London since the time of Elizabeth I, but now they were being ruthlessly murdered by someone who ripped their coffins open for the light of day to burn them to ashes. 

No vampire could endure the daylight to destroy the murderer. They had to turn to a mortal human for aid.

Thus it was that Professor James Asher, one-time spy, returned home to find his young wife in a strange coma and Simon Ysidro, oldest of the London vampires, waiting for him. Ysidro, although polite, left no doubt of his power to locate his spell on the young woman, wherever she might flee. Asher must agree to find the destroyer of the vampires for them.

But if he found the killer, what must happen to them? What would inevitably be the fate of any mortal human who learned the identities and locations of the vampires? The answer was all too obvious. 

Whether he succeeded or failed, it seemed that Professor James Asher was doomed! (From the back cover.)

Review: While I had heard good things about this book, I've been a little hesitant to read it, mainly due to trying to read Children of the Jedi. Based on this, admittedly small, sample, she is a much better writer when she's creating her own characters and worlds.

This book is, mostly, a mystery, as the characters search for clues to figure out who's behind the killings, and it does pretty well in that respect. While the reader probably won't figure out the who or why before the reveal; most of the relevant facts have been brought up and the major one that hasn't doesn't feel like a cheat.

It gives us a well thought out world of vampires. Why the vampires can't not be killers is well thought out, and the author gives us vampires who run the gamut of reactions to this issue. She also gives us the rules for her vampires without resorting to an info dump. As James learns things about what vampires can do, we learn them too.

I liked the way the threat to James is handled. It looms over most of the story, simply because James knows they'll have good reason to kill him once everything is resolved, but the reasons given for why they decide to leave him alone make sense beyond the author not wanting to kill off her main character.

I also liked that James' wife, Lydia, is allowed to be more than a damsel in distress. She helps investigate and, when put in danger, does not just sit around waiting to be rescued.

In the end, I found myself liking the story and characters far more than I had expected to.

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