The Dark Arts of Blood by Freda Warrington (Blood Wine Sequence #1)

Fourth in the Blood series following A Taste of Blood Wine, A Dance in Blood Velvet and The Dark Blood of Poppies, this story surrounds a small cast of characters who we see develop through the volume both mentally and physically.

In A Taste of Blood Wine, it was 1918 and two vampires, Karl and his master Kristian, struggled for dominance on the battlefields of the First World War. When Karl meets Charlotte, she is drawn to him more than the man she is about to marry. A Dance in Blood Velvet has Karl's former lover decide to take back what she views as hers - Karl and no Charlotte will stop her from getting what she wants. In The Dark Blood of Poppies, ballerina Violette has undergone a change that could devastate others while Violette, Karl and Charlotte are faced with a terrible destiny - to be confronted by those who they have previously fought and killed.

Proudly build as "A tale of madness, longing...and blood..." Charlotte and Karl are now faced with a newer problem, Godrick Reiniger, a film-maker who desires more than to just make movies.

The Dark Arts of Blood is separated into two parts with several smaller chapters that create an epic feel about it. These vampires seem more sophisticated than say the ones from a Stephen King novel. Their settings are bourgeois in their development and the characters never lose their edge. While the other three novels have set the scene and developed the characters, this, the latest in the series has a twist in the tale of which I am very fond of ever since reading Roald Dahl's deliciously disturbing stories. The first part centres on Charlotte wanting to have a life with Karl, one that involved them being left in peace. She no longer needs to be embroiled in the darker side of vampirism in an era of war and death. For the first time in her life, Charlotte is happy, but there is one around who could spoil her happiness.

Within all the mystery and intrigue of vampire existence, an interesting part of it is The Crystal Ring, an otherworld only for vampires that lies among the human world, yet it shows the vampires as they truly are without discrimination. Also there is a downside to it as the Crystal Ring will only allow a certain amount of vampires exist in it at any one time. This alone gives vampires a reason to live in a harmony of sorts, or risk being enemies and die. Vampires in this volume are all things, dark, sinister and beguiling, though they have a weaker side made more so by the ritual daggers or sakakin. For Godrick, there is one missing out of the many and he is desperate to take it from the one vampire who he is afraid of.
With an air of the theatrical, Warrington manages to create a luxurious tale that ties up loose ends from the other two novels and leaves fans wanting more of the same. Each character has their own personality, the one they show and the one they try to hide. Godrick pretends to be the dominant, feared man who always gets what he wants but is fearful of the vampires he is supposed to loathe.

In the style of such as Anne Rice, Warrington has made a tale that beats convention and shows readers what is more likely to happen to vampires than in many other novels. It is great to see that what were once 90’s novels have been re published for a fresh audience who have already indulged in the Twilight novels. The cover art for this one and the other three is striking and beautiful in a gothic way and tells a lot about the kind of novels they are. This is for those who want to curl up with a good book, but they might want to first invest in the other three novels, as it is well worth it.

8/10 For those who want to curl up with a good book.

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