One of the best parts of being a book reviewer is the exposure to different narrative voices and the stories they have to tell. A writer’s ability to share details, express realistic dialogue, and to depict well-crafted plot developments can take a formulaic genre and spin it into something new and refreshing. This is precisely what Shari Sakurai’s “Demon’s Blood” does with the overexposed vampire genre.
In her tale, Sakurai presents a hero and his partner who strive to make themselves better, despite the fact that they are indeed vampires with tumultuous histories. Incessantly plagued by visions of a recent catastrophic, life-altering event, both Taku and Thane attempt to live an existence with some semblance of normalcy. However, as the reader soon discovers, their repression of their true nature results in disastrous implications.
Sakurai’s telling of a male-centric vampire tale is bold and ambitious. Her whip-smart dialogue and tenacity to visually describe the life, times, and events which befall her heroes are representative of her talent as a writer. Cleverly subverting the often staid vampire genre by eschewing traditional dialogue and plot devices, Sakurai offers the reader a pleasant twist on what is often a heavy and dark style of writing.
While there are a mish-mash of styles comprising the book itself, “Demon’s Blood” is strongest when Sakurai is highlighting the love between the two heroes. It is in within these simple interactions between Taku and Thane that allows Sakurai’s talent to shine. The inclusion of Japanese culture within the narrative is at once both refreshing and enlightening; it’s a chance for the reader to be exposed to different and often under represented character types and situations.
Well paced and effectively plotted, “Demon’s Blood” is daring and fearless. The author’s clear understanding of her characters and their motivations makes this novel a stunning debut, and is hopefully indicative of many more stories to come.