Title: Dark Heritage: The Stollenberg Vampires
Author: Caroline Davis
Genre: Paranormal / Urban Fantasy
The mysterious disappearance of vampire George Stollenberg while visiting a town called Dunville, in the state of Massachusetts, brings his wife Nina on a journey to discover the truth of what happened to him. Along the way, she will discover family secrets and uncover buried skeletons of the past, and ultimately will make a series of decisions that will determine the course of her life for, quite literally, all of eternity.
Dark Heritage introduces the Stollenberg clan of vampires and their messy, chaotic, and colored history. The common myths about vampires still abound, such as the desire for blood, the ability to enthrall and compel others to do their bidding, and not being able to walk in sunlight. Some of the underlying themes will also be familiar to readers of the genre, like the need to create more vampires to address the threat of extinction and how this comes into conflict with the need to maintain the purity of the Stollenberg bloodlines.
However, the author chose to anchor the world-building specifically around how the clan’s history blends with the wider tapestry of Dunville’s history and how it influenced and shaped local legends and myths. This is evident in how the setting was used as part of the storytelling, in the echoes of the past underneath the newly built houses and modern buildings of the present day. This added depth to the usual vampire fares and ensured that the Dark Heritage will be able to stand out from among the proliferation of similar books in today’s literary market.
Nina is the central character of the book. Her relationship with her husband George and with the other characters make up half the plot points of the story. Some of these relationships could have been given time to unfold in a more organic manner and perhaps given room to breathe rather than having her jump from one connection to another. However, this could have been a deliberate choice on the part of the author, as the other half of the story is really about Nina’s struggle to come to grips with immortality and what it means to live, and love, forever.
The pacing of this book was spot on. The opening chapters were strong and sets both the scene and the atmosphere of the book. There was the requisite information dump when the writer was trying to introduce and establish the Stollenberg clan, but as the story progressed, Caroline Davis got better at giving readers just enough information to keep them turning pages, at using foreshadowing, and at building up the tension in the lead up to the book’s conclusion.
Dark Heritage is a tightly plotted and well-crafted urban fantasy story spiced with just the right amounts of danger, romance, and desire to make it highly entertaining. Caroline Davis’s fresh take on the stories we thought we knew so well will leave comparisons to other similar books far behind. By the end of this book, she’ll likely gain more fans, and the fantasy genre will gain a strong, new, and welcome voice.
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