Nocturnal Blood is book one in the Nocturnal series and judging by book one this is going to be one hell of a ride. Nocturnal Blood is a vampire book, no, don’t you shrug your shoulders, it’s not a vampire book about teenage angst and shiny vampires with oiled muscle and chiseled good looks, it’s bleak, it’s edgy, it’s dark and oh so bloody.
I wouldn’t say I was a fan of vampire fiction, although I’ve enjoyed them and I’ve read my fair share; from Ann Rice, to John Ajvid Lindqvist, Stephen King to Bram Stoker and Richard Matheson and also Steve Niles (30 Days of Night) – but it’s not a genre I seek out to read often, I normally just stumble upon them.
You can also say that people of our generation have also been influence heavily by vampire mythology in films – such as Twilight (Oh dear… I think I just threw up in my mouth just mentioning that), DayBreakers, Underworld, Blade, From Dusk ‘Till Dawn – there are hundreds of them, and let’s not forget the hugely successful Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show (I’m putting this out there, I was never a fan!). So as a generation we’ve seen and read our fair share of vampires, is this genre now becoming a bit overused? Is the it tired and in need of a rest? Is there space for yet another series and another reimagining of this classic and much loved ‘monster‘?
Nocturnal Blood is something very different from the rest and I feel that Villimey Mist might just have just piqued my interest in this recently burnt out genre, and I’ll be damn sure to follow this series through to what I can only assume will be a hugely bloody and brutal conclusion – the vampiric genre is in safe hands people, trust me!
Nocturnal Blood read like it was a YA book (young adult), but I feel that this was mainly in part to the youngish protagonists we are following (Leia and Sophie) and the ease of the language that is used by Mist, it’s easy on the eye and easy on the brain and has a readability to it that is so simple and enjoyable. I said YA, but I’m talking the high end YA here, books and series like The Hunger Games, Maze Runner, Noughts and Crosses and the Home for Peculiar Children series. Trust me Mist, this is a huge compliment to you as a writer, because I’ve loved these books (all of them I read as an adult too), they all, like Nocturnal Blood, tread that fine line between top end YA (with the themes and topics covered) and full blown adult horror.
But Nocturnal Blood in my opinion probably couldn’t fit into the YA bracket as it has some very graphic stuff in there. There are also some hints at rape and other sexual exploits – and give Villimey Mist her dues, these are dealt with with perfection, we don’t see the sordid details, we don’t get graphic scenes, but these are alluded to in fine prose that gets us the gruesome facts without us having to watch it all unfold.
Violence doesn’t worry me anymore. It happens all around and I know there’s nothing I can do to stop it. In my hometown of Anchorage, Alaska, news about another war or another violent shooting has become part of the daily routine. We have the highest crime rate in the country, with 813 violent crimes per 100,000 residents – hearing there’s been another murder or that another person has gone missing doesn’t surprise me anymore. I’ve seen those acts of violence happen to others. They’ve happened to me as well.
The above quote is from the opening of the book. Nocturnal Blood centres around two young protagonists Leia (yes she is named after the Star Wars princess) and Sophie – friend’s since childhood. Sophie’s parents suddenly decide to move away and so Sophie and Leia’s friendship unfortunately ends too; they try to stay in contact but soon after leaving the letters Leia sends are not answered.
Fast forward a few years and Leia is at University, she’s an awkward soul and a loner (Sophie was her only friend in the whole world, a person that knew her insecurities and didn’t judge her for them) – Leia’s anxieties, hygiene fears and facial tics put her on everyones radar, and they avoid this strange girl like the plague. On her way home one night Leia decides to take a short cut, it’s late, and she needs to get home before the enforced curfew. Recently a couple of bodies have turned up with their heads missing and blood drained, the police are concerned that this is no isolated incident and so have introduced this enforced lockdown. So, Leia takes the short cut through an alleyway at an attempt at beating the clock, where she is abruptly stopped as a man sets about mugging her at gunpoint; that is, until Sophie shows up, and then all bloody hell breaks loose!
What happens next is a sprawling narrative that takes us on a blood drenched road trip to Seattle where Sophie must go to clear her name and find the possibility of protection from the vampire council and vampire hunters that are seeking to pass their own judgement over Sophies gruesome crimes. Think of a vampiric Bonnie and Clyde buddy movie but with a higher body count and a lot more blood, gore and graphic violence and directed by David Fincher and you’d be in the right ball park!
I did have some concerns as the story progressed early on with regards to our main characters. I found the two protagonists hard to enjoy, everything between them just seemed all too simplified and easy. ‘oh you’re a vampire now, that’s cool‘ (my own words). It for me just seemed that there wasn’t much concern, worry or much anxiety about this whole thing from a very anxious girl we have in Leia (we see her anxiety come to the fore a lot in this book) – and when Leia is told she needs to leave her parents and go with Sophie on this trip – it all just seemed too easy in my head.
What I enjoyed about this book is that although Villimey has borrowed from the greats, from the vampiric lore and many adaptations – she has written a book that is unique in its portrayal of the vampiric, she’s added her own conventions and lore and they work tremendously well. I would assume it would be very difficult to come up with something as unique as Nocturnal Blood in this over crowded and over saturated genre but Villimey Mist has pulled it off and created a tremendous vampiric beast to add to the canon of vampire fiction – she deserves to be up there with the very best in this field such is the offering we have here.
I’d compare the bloody violence, gore and creeping unease in this book with the work of John Ajvide Lindqvist and his works of Let The Right One In and Handling the Undead – it was graphic, gory and absolutely fabulous. At times it was hard to read, but that’s what I wan’t, I don’t want some small spatter, I want to be drenched in all the chunks, blood and filth.
Villimey absolutely destroys the reader in the last few chapters (The Unforgettable Beach was a masterclass) showcasing her remarkable talent – and also ensnaring the reader in wanting to follow this series wherever she will lead it. A remarkable first book in a series, and I’m strapped in for the ride, you better too because I think this is going to get a lot more dark before this whole thing is over!
Villimey Mist conjures up the work of past masters whilst adding her own brilliance to the vampiric mythology in this fabulously woven debut. Mist’s writing is insidious, gritty and raw, blending perfectly the readability of YA with the full out gore and depravity of adult horror.
Nocturnal Blood the first book in the Nocturnal Series is available here.
Villimey has always been fascinated by vampires and horror, ever since she watched Bram Stoker’s Dracula when she was a little, curious girl. She loves to read and create stories that pop into her head unannounced.
She lives in Iceland with her husband and two cats, and is often busy drawing or watching the latest shows on Netflix.
Nocturnal Blood is her debut novel.
Twitter – @VillimeyS
Reviewed by Ross Jeffery
Unlike many other Arts & Entertainment Magazines, STORGY is not Arts Council funded or subsidised by external grants or contributions. The content we provide takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce, and relies on the talented authors we publish and the dedication of a devoted team of staff writers. If you enjoy reading our Magazine, help to secure our future and enable us to continue publishing the words of our writers. Please make a donation or subscribe to STORGY Magazine with a monthly fee of your choice. Your support, as always, continues to inspire.