Friday, January 15, 2010

The Midnight Guardian

Stratford, Sarah Jane. The Midnight Guardian: A Millennial Novel. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2009. Print.
[Book cover credit:]

In this fantastical remembering of the beginnings of WWII, the vampires of Great Britain jump into the fray long before their human countrymen in an attempt to keep Hitler from decimating the food supply of European vampires.

Hitler, of course, has other plans. He puts together a group of men, the sister team to the SS, who hunt vampires instead of Jews, homosexuals and gypsies. They've been taught by true vampire hunters, men and women whose families have been keeping the vampire population under control for centuries, who have traded their family secrets for a promise of safety from the Nazis. 

This was a fun and engrossing read. It splits, very early on, into two storylines. One follows Brigit and the rest of the Millenial vampires, as they try to take down the emerging Nazi empire by infiltrating its ranks and/or seducing men in high places. Brigit is joined by Cleland, Mors, Swefred and Meaghan on her trip to Germany. It is only safe for vampires over a millennium old to voluntarily walk into a country quickly filling with vampire hunters. Swefred and Meaghan, together since the beginning of time it would seem, have each other and Mors has been single and loving it for his whole millennium long and more life, but Brigit and Cleland both have to leave their partners behind in London.

Much is made of Brigit and Eamon's love and heartbreak over their distance throughout the book, Brigit is the main character after all, but Cleland and his partner Padriac (both men, in case you aren't well versed in really old Irish names) also suffer through their separation. Cleland and Padriac's love is portrayed as just as true, long-lasting and, above all, normal as that of Brigit and Eamon's, even if it doesn't get as much page space devoted to it. The only "problems" that arise out of their homosexuality is Cleland's annoyance at having to seduce Nazi wives and the prison cell in which they found Padriac on his last night as a human hundreds of years ago.

The other story, the one that sucked me in, shows Brigit trying to sneak back to London on a train of German soldiers and possibly vampire hunters. She is escorting "precious cargo," which is why she has to take such a public route and is constantly in danger of being caught with forged papers, revealed as a vampire, or having to change trains in broad daylight. The way that loyalties change in the face of the force of the Nazis becomes so interesting in this storyline, but to talk about any of it would be to give too much away. Some liberty is taken with the vampire myth, what they can and cannot do, but it still remains a horror story of sorts. Except that you will side with the monsters.

This is an adult book and does have a few, um, sexy moments, but overall, I think that it would be suitable for mature teenagers with an interest either in vampires that don't sparkle or historical retellings. I don't think the slim bits of actual historical content would be enough for a WWII buff.

Book source: Philly Free Library

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