After a gruesome betrayal, vampire Sebastien Vilmont is flung into a whirlwind cat and mouse game when his traveling party is ambushed by an opposing group of bloodthirsty vampires. Maurice, the leader of Sebastien’s coven, makes the decision to not only wage war against the opposing vampire clan, but a clerical organization known as The Diocese Club who wishes to exterminate all vampire-kind.
Trying desperately to protect the secrecy of their coven’s location below the streets of Whitechapel, London, Sebastien finds himself at odds with Maurice in his desire to not engage in all-out war with the renegade Catholic faction. At the same time, he must also battle the other vampire coven to guard their anonymity from humans. In doing so, Sebastien is forced into choices and alliances he might not otherwise have made.
Set in the tone of Victorian England, The Coven is a thrilling and horrific journey through the seedier workings of the vampire underworld, and pious ideology of The Diocese Club.
Vampires of the Victorian era hold a special place in my bookshelf. There’s something about the romanticism and viciousness that appeals to the senses. In her debut novel, author Angie Gallow attempts to capture this balance.
The story opens with a recount of a viscous attack on a traveling group of vampires. It’s through this account that we discover a brewing war between the Diocese Club, a group of priest sworn to eradicate evil, and the coven who they attacked. A scared vampire is a strange occurrence when they have mythical strength and other powers. But what’s strange is that the Diocese Club is pitting vampire against vampire through torture and manipulation.
It’s an interesting twist on the classic tale, but all the staples are there. The vampires are still affected by sunlight and silver, and with the special gifts that are heightened when transformed into the undead, the author is able to create a creature that is unique but still traditional.
Getting into the story itself, I liked that it was fast-paced and kept you turning page after page. However, this also comes at a hindrance. Because it’s such a quick read, its easy to feel that you’re missing something. There’s not much development in the way of critical scenes, that if they were given the proper time, they’d be that much stronger. But it’s because of this timing that we see our protagonist, Sebastien, throw his leaders to the dogs. It seems like it’s without a second thought, or much thought at all. I’d have liked to see this part slowed way down to see all of the motivations behind his actions.
While there isn’t much of the way of violent fights, there are a few scenes that are delightfully gory and vicious–all of which involved Howard. As the leader of the vampire army run by the Diocese Club, there’s an added edge to his character. He’s one of the only characters that has been fully fleshed out. Because there’s such a large ensemble of characters, it’s hard to get a solid understanding of them all.
One such character is Rachel. As Harold’s lover, she is in a unique position. She sees him behind closed doors and can understand him on a deeper level. However, when we first meet her, it seems as though she’s not on his side and only with him out of convenience, but as the story progresses, we learn that she does in fact hold some affection for him, to the point that she double-crosses the coven in the event of Harold’s death.
But perhaps one of the most compelling characters is Calvin, the human servant employed by the Coven. He worships Sebastien, almost viewing him as a father figure. He doesn’t have an issue standing up for what he believes in and voicing those beliefs. He’s the one innocent in this war, and when he gets involved, its hard not to want to jump ahead and make sure nothing happens to him.
As the war between the two sides heats up, with battles raging and casualties on both sides, it’s easy to forget that this is a debut novel. There’s such a strong voice and clear focus to the writing. Hopefully the ending is an indication that there will be more books to follow. And while it may feel rushed, it’s still a strong novel and one that I’d gladly recommend to anyone.
[Disclaimer: I received a free ebook copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review]
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars