When Corbin Stewart, a down-on-his-luck writer living in Paris, witnesses the brutal attack of an old gypsy, he rushes to help. He chases off the attackers, three albinos wearing porcelain tragedy masks, but not before they stab the old man repeatedly. While Corbin tries to keep the man alive until help arrives, blood gets on his skin, in his eyes, into his mouth. The old man dies, but Corbin soon discovers that death isn’t the end for the powerful gypsy, and that the blood in his body carries part of the man’s tortured soul with it.
This is the first I’ve read by Jeff Gunhus, and has intrigued me enough for it to not be the last.
The horror aspect of how this book has been marketed spoke to me, but I found it wasn’t quite as horror-oriented as I was expecting. The first few chapters were certainly spooky, and there were some parts so thick on emotion that I clung to my Kindle, desperate to see what would happen.
Gunhus’ writing was solid, a delicious romp through subterranean Paris, which was described so thoroughly I could honestly put myself in Corbin’s shoes and imagine I was there. Completed with an unsettling focus on skeletons, blood, and just a little bit of gore, it was the sort of book to read in one sitting on a cold winter’s night, accompanied by a glass of wine (or two).
The characters had a fantastic depth to them—even the antagonists, whom I actually felt some sympathy fore, which is always a pleasure—and I was very much rooting for Corbin and his companions. This wasn’t a five-star read for me simply because I felt the ending was a little rushed and unbelievable, especially considering the long build-up to the climax.
Despite this, it was great fun, if not a little sobering at times. Well worth a read.