ULRIKA THE VAMPIRE: BLOODBORN by Nathan Long,Â Black Library, p/b, Â£7.99, www.blacklibrary.com
Reviewed by Sandra Scholes
First in a trilogy of novels featuring female protagonist Ulrika Magdova, she is a vampire with a difference who desperately tries to control her bloodlust. A vampire countess of a coven seeks to help her, and protect others like her by accepting her into her castle so she can live in the eternal darkness she would come to know and embrace.
Author of Elfslayer and Shamanslayer, Nathan Long, it seems has concentrate on vampires, and it was a good decision as he brings out new life in what could be an over used genre. Firstly he uses a horror icon, the sensual female vampire and puts her into an unfamiliar fantasy setting. Under normal circumstances putting these two opposite genres together would not work, but Nathan has succeeded through clever crafting of the story and original use of characters.
He has created a character in a very Anne Rice way, as, like Lestat, Ulrika was made a vampire without her wanting the curse that would soon come, but this is where the similarity ends as this is a very deep, dark and brooding novel.
Adolphus Krieger a vampire in Drakenhof had found Ulrika attractive after she had come with her companions to kill him â€“ and as a result, she is put into an impossible situation where his desire means her human death. She can no longer go back to her parents, her family or friends. As a vampire they would not accept her. Ulrika knows she has to leave her old life behind and adjust to her new life as a ravening beast complete with fangs and claws. Shocked at her own transformation from decent human being, she has no choice but to turn herself over to Countess Gabriella who will show her how to live as a vampire without causing alarm to the peasant townspeople, who Gabriella knows, would burn their place to the ground if they knew of their vampire heritage.
Nathan shows what Ulrika has to go through to understand the woman she has to be if she is to live as a vampire but she realises how defiant and deadly she is, and doesnâ€™t like taking orders from the countess, even if she knows she is right.
Bloodborn takes the reader through Ulrikaâ€™s first experiences of being a bloodthirsty vampire, and her loathing of what she has become, even to the point of wanting to die as the thirst for blood becomes more and more potent it warps her mind. She feels soulless, and empty inside and wonders why Gabriella let her live in such a state. It could be said that is why she wanted to help her become the sort of vampire who can live a normal life, but Ulrika will have to come a long way before that can happen.
As well as Ulrika coping with her bloodlust, and Gabriella risking being found out for helping her, there is a new enemy in Nuln the two of them must destroy, or they might find themselves destroyed too. From the beginning of the trilogy, this is a very impressive start that goes further than just establishing Ulrikaâ€™s character, upbringing and later growth as a more humane vampire. It is well written and has scenes that are descriptively gory and close to the knuckle, but this is where the horror part comes in and is truly welcomed.