Of Saints and Shadows by Christopher Golden
Of Saints and Shadows (Peter Octavian)
Vampires are fiction’s current superstars, but their well-known mythology makes it too easy for writers to stick slavishly to common themes and characteristics. Of Saints and Shadows offers a different look at vampire origins.
Peter Octavian, a private detective and vampire, occasionally helps the police with his unusual knowledge and expertise. But one dark night, a simple murder case blossoms into something much more complicated … and deadly.
It involves the mysterious “Gospel of Shadows,” stolen from the Vatican library. This tome contains the collected knowledge of the church sorcerers who want to eliminate the “Defiant Ones”: the vampires.
Sorcerer Father Liam Mulkerrin has come to the United States to retrieve the book, and start a final holy war against all vampires. Peter and his scattered vampire friends must fight the church’s magic and stop Mulkerrin’s plans.
Considering the role that holy relics and sacred places play in vampire mythology, it’s odd that more writers haven’t used them. Golden not only has the church actively combating the supernatural, but also altering the vampires’ weaknesses through magic. This allows the vampires to break free of those restraints, since they’re not built-in flaws.
It’ll be interesting to see how this affects future plots.
I did, however, find it difficult to believe that a priest could be so vicious. Mulkerrin tortures people at times, occasionally just for the fun of it. While everyone knows that some priests aren’t exactly angels, this level of cruelty seems excessive, and included mostly for shock value.
Overall, Of Saints and Shadows is a decent read with an interesting take on vampires. That said, a little less gore and a bit more depth would have made the book stand out even more.
Also by this author: The Map of Moments (with Tim Lebbon)
This review originally appeared in the Davis Enterprise on October 21, 2010.