Author: Freda Warrington
Publisher: Titan Books
A couple of months ago I requested to review a copy of Freda Warrington’s new book, ‘The Dark Arts of Blood’, without realising it was the fourth book in the series. Luckily, the lovely Freda and Cara over at Titan books arranged for me to review the rest of the series, so I thought I’d do one big review of the Blood Wine Sequence, without giving too much away.
The first in the sequence is ‘A Taste of Blood Wine’, in which we meet Karl von Wultendorf, a solitary vampire living in 1923 London after the First World War. Karl is oppressed by his power crazed, overbearing maker, Kirstian, and struggles to free himself from his clutches. In doing so, Karl finds himself in London’s high society, working as a research assistant for George Neville, a professor who of course has no idea Karl is anything other than perfectly human. Dr. Neville’s daughter Madeleine instantly takes a liking to the tall, dark and charismatic Karl. However, it is her sister, Charlotte, that Karl finds himself drawn to. She is shy, withdrawn and mysterious, everything that Madeleine is not.
Charlotte, assistant to her father, spends most of her days in the science laboratory, and is upset by the presence of Karl infiltrating her space. But as time goes on, they grow closer. As Karl is aware, there is only so close a vampire and human can become before there’s trouble.
Now, it’s hard to only say this much about the book but I don’t want to spoil the plot for anyone. But it does get quite dark, and as you might imagine there is quite a lot of blood, death and gore.
The second book in the series, ‘A Dance in Blood Velvet’, brings in additional characters, and features the other vampire characters more heavily. This book still focuses mainly on Charlotte and Karl, but also a new character, Violette Lenoir. Violette is a famous prima ballerina in the human world, and is known for her icy manner and private personality. Charlotte watches her dancing and is entranced by the stunning movements and feelings Violette is able to convey to her audience.
‘A Dance in Blood Velvet’ has a much darker twist to it than the first, and focusses on love and obsession. As well as her devoted fans, Voilette has a lot of trouble and bad people surrounding her. It’s interesting to think about the obsession we have with celebrities, just as Violette has many fans, some who don’t know when to draw the line.
There is also trouble ahead for Karl and Charlotte. Karl’s former lover, beautiful vampire Katrina, reappears and seems determined to force Charlotte and Karl apart. This puts a strain on their relationship and Charlotte turns to Violette for advice and friendship when she has no one else.
‘The Dark Blood of Poppies’, is the third book, and my personal favourite. Violette is now a powerful vampire, the embodiment of Lilith, mother of vampires. This book pulls away from the human world and really focuses on the vampires. Again, there are some new characters, namely Sebastian. His story this the reason ‘The Dark Blood of Poppies’ is my favourite out of the four. He meets a feisty young woman, Robyn, who has experienced both the best and worst of what the world has to offer. They start an intense romance, which of course brings us back to the question Charlotte and Karl dealt with in book one, how can a vampire and human be together? Robyn is definitely my favourite character and this is a really great book.
Meanwhile, Karl and Charlotte must face the problem of other vampires teaming up against Voilette-lilith, believing that she means to kill them all. They make a wrong move by threatening Violette’s ballet company, and her retaliation is all the evidence they need to convince everyone that she is a danger to the vampire race. Both the second and third books have a strong similarity to the hit film ‘Black Swan’, although they were written years before. Of course this will appeal to many readers like myself, who have an interest in the world of ballet.
The first three books in this series were originally written and published from 1992 onwards, and went out of print until recently, with a forth, The Dark Arts of Blood, released in May of this year. This instalment had a really gothic feel to it, and the rural, winter setting is spot on. The threat this time around comes from one Godric Reiniger, a local filmmaker who craves power and knows how to get it. He has a very Nazi ideology and I’m sure this is a premonition for possible future books of Warrington’s, which would be really interesting to see. However, this fourth book is still only set in the 1920’s, so there would have to be quite a time-leap.
The upside of having mistakenly read ‘The Dark Arts of Blood’ first is that I could clearly see the character developments of Charlotte and particularly Violette from the beginning of their stories.
Now, I’ve read a lot of vampire and paranormal romance, and I hadn’t ever come across Freda’s books before, so of course I was intrigued. It’s themes are similar to that of Anna Rice, and Christine Feehan, but it’s you’re looking for something more story based, this is the series for you. Each book is roughly 500 pages, so there is a lot of story to get stuck into. There are plenty of colourful characters, and new ones introduced with each book just incase you don’t find anyone you particularly like in the first. The era the books take place is really makes the vampire element come alive. It is easier to believe that such creatures existed in an unstable, 1920’s Germany than in present day England.
There is definitely room for expansion in this series, so fingers crossed that Freda releases another book in the future. But please don’t take too long Freda, I already miss Karl and Charlotte!