REVIEW: The Vampire Queen’s Servant by Joey Hill
Dear Ms. Hill:
When I was perusing the Penguin catalog, the striking cover grabbed my eye. I then saw that you were the author of said book and thought to myself that I had to have this book. Unfortunately, this was back in December and the book wasn’t due out until July. I knew that sometimes authors had copies of books before professional arcs were made and with a little brazenness, okay alot of brazenness, I emailed you and asked if you might not share a copy with me. Perhaps some of my desperateness showed through because you complied.
It’s a dangerous thing to ask for a book because what if I don’t like it? What then? But, you are the story witch and you wove a spell from which I could not extricate myself. This vampire story was powerful, dark, and feral. These are vampires at their most primal, given over to their lust for power and for blood and some, like Lyssa, the Queen, are holding onto their position by a tenuous thread. Lady Elyssa was the Vampire Queen, the last living descendant of the original royal clan of the Far East. She helped shape the vampire council and the laws the governed vampires so that their predatory nature did not lead to their own destruction. There is an increasing struggle for dominance between the “born” vampires and the “made” vampires. Many of the made vampires, in their immaturity, fail to realize that the rules and structure are in place for the preservation of their kind. Elyssa is not only old and powerful, but she is a symbol, one that her enemies would give anything to destroy.
It’s possible, though, that they will not have to for Elyssa is suffering from some kind of illness and she fears that she will lose control, give in to bloodlust and go mad. Her last human servant, Thomas, has left her and passed away. He has sent Jacob to Lyssa, believing that Jacob will be a suitable replacement. Jacob is not sure what drew him to Lyssa but since the first, when he learned of her, of what he could be to her, he determined that no one else would serve her while he drew breath.
Jacob is not a man used to serving even though that is the role he has set before him. Lyssa reluctantly takes him in but what proceeds is a fierce power struggle because Jacob’s view of a human servant is different than Lyssa. Lyssa believes she must have complete submission from Jacob for any misstep from Jacob would be viewed as a sign of Lyssa’s weakness. Given that she is weak, she must, at all costs, not appear weak. Jacob believes that he can supplant Lyssa’s decision making at times. Both learn that they are wrong.
Truly, I think this is the story that Laurell K Hamilton is trying to write but fails. It has the complicated vampire politics and each character is just waiting for another to falter. The erotic nature of the vampires, their love for blood and sex, is both base and beautiful. The story succeeds at bringing out the sexuality without it devolving into a pornscapade.
The worst part of this book is that it is only part 1 of a two part series. While Jacob and Lyssa find love with one another, there is danger looming on the horizon both with Lyssa’s illness and the forthcoming clash of vampire cultures. At times I felt anxious turning the page because the torments that Lyssa and Jacob suffered seemed so real to me. I was truly lost in the world.
If I were to describe the work, it would dark, evocative and feral. I don’t know where the story is going, but I’m in it for the long haul, no matter what future holds for Lyssa and Jacob. It was clear to me at the end of this part of the story that the completion that they were looking for is found in each other's arms. A