(Summary from the back of the book)
In the year 1870, a horrible plague of vampires swept over the northern regions of the world. Millions of humans were killed outright. Millions more died of disease and famine due to the havoc that followed. Within two years, once-great cities were shrouded by the grey empire of the vampire clans. Human refugees fled south to the tropics because vampires could not tolerate the constant heat there. They brought technology and a feverish drive to reestablish their shattered societies of steam and iron amid the mosques of Alexandria, the torrid quietude of Panama, or the green temples of Malaya.
It is now 2020 and a bloody reckoning is coming.
Princess Adele is heir to the Empire Equatoria, a remnant of the old tropical British Empire. She is quick with her wit as well as with a sword or gun. She is eager for an adventure before she settles into a life of duty and political marriage to a man she does not know. But her quest turns black when she becomes the target of a merciless vampire clan. Her only protector is the Greyfriar, a mysterious hero who fights the vampires from deep within their territory. Their dangerous relationship plays out against an approaching war to the death between humankind and the vampire clans.
I received The Greyfriar for review awhile ago, and for some reason I kept putting off reading it. I finally decided to pick it up, and I'm so glad I did! This book exceeded any expectations I had of it.
When the novel started out, I was just sort of waiting for something to pull me in. I didn't feel the spark until The Greyfriar himself showed up, which was really early in the novel. From then on, I was hooked. I finished this novel in one day.
I just couldn't stop reading.
The plot was action-packed. I loved the scenes between Adele and Greyfriar, and Adele and Gareth. It was interesting to see the contrast between how she treated each man, and then eventually, the mergence of her actions for both. That part of the plot is a little complicated, and I can't explain it without giving something away, but if you read it, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.
My only issue plot-wise were... well, basically any of the scenes that didn't have Adele in them. I lost interest slightly when the perspective changed, even though I understood that the change served a purpose.
The romance in the story was... wow. I knew it was coming. I knew. But it's the kind of romance that just sneaks up on you, and then hits you like a ton of bricks at the end, even though you already saw the bricks hanging in a crumbling net over your head. It slowly built up and simmered, and that's what I loved. There were some tender moments that just made me smile.
All of the characters were so well-rounded and described. Each had a role to play, and each played it superbly. Despite the potential for cheesy-ness, the Griffith duo managed to pull everything off wonderfully, and most importantly, believably. My favorite character is a tie between Adele, the butt-kicking heroine, and Gareth, the eldest vampire prince with a kind heart.
I really do commend the Griffith duo for making up such an intricate world, with it's own history, while intertwining it with real history. And the vampires! A very new twist on an extremely overdone thing. The vampires in this novel, most certainly did not sparkle, but they DID kick some ass.
I guess my only major qualm with the book is the cover. It really does not appeal to me. I'll admit that it's a big reason why I didn't pick this book up sooner. It's so... gray. And I get that the artist did that to convey the destruction that was happening, but there are much better ways to portray that. Also, I don't like the model or drawing or whatever that is of Gareth. That's absolutely not how I picture him, and I actually covered up that part of the cover the entire time I was reading this so it wouldn't ruin my mental image of him.
Overall, I loved this novel. I really did, and I'm dying for a sequel. Let's hope it comes out soon!