Readers would be forgiven for thinking that they have already seen every possible permutation of the vampire legend, and yet authors continue to find ways to mine this mythos for our reading entertainment. The latest author to succeed on this front is Sam Cabot and the book is Blood of the Lamb, the first in a new trilogy. In what reads like a mash-up of Anne Rice and Dan Brown, Cabot has tweaked the existing canon of vampire lore just enough to make this novel interesting and innovative.
The framework of Blood of the Lamb sets forth the position that vampires are real and that they have been kept hidden through the actions of the Church. The vampires in the novel are called the Noantri and as one would expect, they have existed for a long time. At some point in history, a pact was struck with the Vatican and as a result, the Noantri have agreed to remain hidden while the Church provides them with blood from Church-run hospitals. All has been well for centuries, but as readers discover at the beginning of the novel, there is a rogue vampire (or vampires) who wish to break the pact and expose themselves to the world at large.
This is a quest based novel, so what follows is the joining of various groups, coming together to prevent the rogue faction from succeeding. While these groups may not necessarily have the same purpose in mind, they each want to stop the “villain.” The two main characters representing divergent groups are:
- Father Thomas Kelly, a devout Catholic who has just had his faith rocked by the revelation that his church has been harboring vampires.
- Livia Pietro, a Noantri who is responsible for “creating” the rogue vampire and thus is responsible for stopping him.
To prevent the open exposure of the Noantri to the general population Thomas and Livia must locate a document, called the Concordat, which outlines the terms of the agreement between the Church and the vampires. Without this document, the rogue vampire will have no evidence to move forward with his threats.
This brings readers to the Dan Brown-like aspect of the story. The bulk of the narrative outlines how Thomas and Livia follow clues hidden within poems to find puzzles which will eventually lead them to the Concordat. The poems lead the searchers to various churches and the artwork housed within each. To add more complication, their activities in the churches have garnered some attention from both the local police, as well as the Vatican police. A cat and mouse game across Rome ensures.
Sam Cabot is a pseudonym for Carlos Dews and S. J. Rozan. Dews is a professor of creative writing and mystery fans likely know Rozan from her award-winning Lydia Chin/Bill Smith series. In the same way that Anne Rice placed vampires in the modern world and allowed readers to relate directly to them as “living” beings, these two authors has created a history for the Noantri that feels both real and realistic.
This is a new breed of vampire. The Noantri are not the evil blood-sucking creatures of our nightmares. Finding out about them in this novel is like reading a well-researched scholarly journal on a subject you previously knew nothing about. Each fact provided is so detailed that readers can easily suspend their disbelief and follow this journey to its conclusion.
Readers will delight in the twists found in Blood of the Lamb and the revelations uncovered on the final page will have them anxiously awaiting the middle book in this trilogy, titled Skin of the Wolf.