Gabriel Hawthorne never chose an easy life – his days investigating some of the filthiest secrets, personal and political, have marked him out. But every man has his limit, and when Gabriel stumbles onto the biggest skeleton in human history’s closet, he must find a way to survive.
Hunted by legendary beings many call “vampires” and held in prison-sanctuary by a mythical cult of information, will Gabriel wriggle out of this ancient struggle alive or be just another victim of the longest war of human history? Knowledge is power in The Children of Cain: House of Dvanaesti by David R. Bishop & J. Scott Cordero.
At times the characters feel more representative of their key “sides” and positions in the story, with Gabriel as the everyman caught in the New York sector of the invisible war. Characterization remains consistent and strong, even if a main character delivers rather obvious exposition from time to time. It doesn’t undermine the story or ever feel like a shortcut, always natural and directed.
Importantly, every character feels quite real, and even the great enemies of humanity themselves are just as flawed and charismatic as their living, breathing protagonist counterparts. This is a great boon for the read as it feels alive with strong players in a very slow and careful game of manipulation.
The structure of the book is solid with only a few confusing and unexplained threads; all parts follow naturally into each other with the right diagetic lead-ins. The plot has the right twists and turns along the way that can be surprising, but not turning up without reason. The only disappointment is that the ending, while suited to the inevitable tone of the book, does little to tie off more than a few loose ends and you’re left at something of a loss as some of the most interesting and important elements go unresolved.
Gladly, many are; yet the final chapters are bittersweet and chilling in a way that could leave a bad taste for anyone looking for a tidy end – even if that may never have been intended. Also, in spite of a general level of writing quality, there still seems to be close to one noticeable editing error a page, which is striking in contrast to the level of attention the book otherwise receives.
While the writing has great thought in its design, the same can’t so much be said of the cover, which is undeservedly cloaked in a foggy, menacing red. A simpler, cleaner design would have been much appreciated, perhaps one with a better emphasis on the historical-modern supernatural elements rather than the ambiguous edit of a stock photo this version uses. It’s a joyless admission that it marks the book with a different expectation at first glance, and I feel it needs a real second look to make sure the book gives the right, quality impression that the book deserves.
Children of Cain is rich and coldly thrilling, dripping with charisma and polished smooth in delivery. The tone is slight and subtle with a backdrop of terror and a touch of modern Noir in a story pulled from Christian mythology. It’s a flavorsome mix and well worth a look as a vampire, supernatural, and political thriller alike. You might be surprised just where the rabbit hole takes you.