Given the current obsession with vampire/zombie movies and books, you might think that the last thing you need to read is another vampire novel. K. P. Ambroziak’s The Fifth Empire: The Journal of Vincent du Maurier, though is a vampire novel that takes a completely new direction.
It’s 2052, and Vincent du Maurier is leader of a clan of vampires that, due to the lack of human blood upon which to feed, and a virus that is now fatal to vampires, is on the verge of extinction. To make matters worse, the land is overrun by zombies who feed on vampire flesh – turning the vampire into a zombie in the process.
When Vincent and his group find three healthy humans, one of whom is a pregnant woman, it sets the clan on a course that none could have predicted. Could the fate of vampires and humans be intertwined? K. P. Ambroziak, with a combination of narrative that swings from gritty to delicate, and dialogue that gives you the feeling that you’re snooping on private conversations, managed to convince this reviewer that this is within the realm of possibility.
Ambroziak tells her story from the point of view of the vampire Vincent, a daring thing to do, given that any author desires that readers sympathize with your main character. Vincent is hard to sympathize with – he comes through, though, as a complex character – bad to the bone, but with a tiny streak of compassion beneath his pale, undead exterior, and even though his heart doesn’t beat, he is capable on occasion of almost human feeling.
I’m giving The Fifth Empire four stars for its excellent writing, tightly woven plot, and sheer entertainment value.