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August 26, 2016

Review: Chiaroscuro by Matthew S. Cox

by MK French

cover of Chiaroscuro
Father Antonio hunts creatures of darkness in Europe, from demons to vampires, and tries to save the innocent so that their souls can be saved. He tries to rely on his faith, but it's sorely tested when he is called to examine a child vampire named Sabine. Holy water and the cross don't trouble her, and she continues to pray to God to be a good person. He can't reconcile this with the horrible monsters he had destroyed, and in trying to prevent her destruction at the hands of other priests is mortally wounded. Sabine saves his life by turning him into a vampire, and Father Antonio spends the rest of the novel in search of a way to undo the curse so that she can find salvation and free her soul. His faith is tested many times, but his concern is always for Sabine and her wellbeing.

This is an interesting take on vampires, especially in the form of Sabine. Unlike Claudia from Interview With The Vampire, Sabine's mental state remains that of an eight-year-old girl. She is only dimly aware of the passage of time and events so that they slide together, and she doesn't have a good concept of time. It's definitely in keeping with that stage of development and a change from the stories that have vampires frozen in time physically, but continuing to develop mentally so that they would have adult longings and understanding. Father Antonio cares for Sabine as if she was his human daughter, and tries to balance his faith in God with the fact that he is a vampire and must have human blood to survive.

Descriptions are vivid, and really paint the picture of the surroundings in each time period. It sometimes feels as though there's too much description, like we're living a night in the life of a vampire. At other times, it really hooks you in. The boat ride feels almost claustrophobic, and the decay of different hiding spots is overwhelming. You feel just as frustrated with Antonio's inability to find any accurate information regarding vampires or vampirism. It's amusing to see how he fumbles with technology, or how wrong he was when he thought television would never take off. Sabine is a sweet child, for all that she has to drink blood, and her losses were just as devastating for me to experience along with her. The ending is sudden but fits the story and the characters well. I look forward to seeing more books by this author.

Buy Chiaroscuro at Amazon
(a free copy of this novel was provided in exchange for a fair review)

MK French, reviewer. Born and raised in New York City, M.K. started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever.

Book info:
available formats: ebook and print (322 pages)
published: July 2016 by Curiosity Quills Press
ISBN13: 978-1620077696
genres: horror, dark fantasy
source: author

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