“Vampire Empire Book One: The Greyfriar” is the first book in the “Vampire Empire” series by Clay and Susan Griffith. In “Book One” we are introduced to an alternate Earth set in the year 2020 where vampires exist and rose up to kill a large portion of humanity in 1870. With the baseline of the changed world being 1870, the technology shown is Steampunk, but the Steampunk theme is a quiet undertone to the story.
The main characters are Princess Adele of the Equatorian Empire and the mysterious myth-come-to-life, the Greyfriar. We follow their adventures as Adele is targeted by the Vampire Clans in an effort to stop a joining of the Equatorian and American Empires through a political marriage and the Greyfriar as her protector.
The Griffiths, a husband and wife writing team, have created an intriguing world that immediately pulls the reader in and threatens to keep them there until the Greyfriar can emerge from the mists of the destroyed nations to mount an heroic rescue. Through Princess Adele we see glimpses of what her life is like in the Equatorian capital of Alexandria, but she is far from the pampered girl that one might expect from a future empress. And through the Greyfriar we see the dangers that life within the Vampire Empire can bring. With the Greyfriar, we have the stereotypical masked sword wielding hero, but as the saying goes, “the devil is in the details.” The character is beautifully crafted with enough mystery left intact to not make the character two dimensional.
The Griffiths have managed to add a new take on the quickly aging vampire scene. The vampires in this story are not the undead. The ability to fly is explained by the vampires somehow changing their density and riding the air currents. Fortunately, there is no shapeshifting for these creatures. Other than changing their density, the rest of the vampiric qualities are basically biological and well explained.
As I read “Vampire Empire” I was thrilled at how the Griffiths were able to tell such a rich story in only 300 pages. Their descriptions are vivid but not overly so. I hesitate to use the words “page turner” but I remained completely interested in the novel the entire time with no slow chapters. I would venture to say this is one of the best science fiction books I have read in a while.
Only toward the end of the book did the plot show a bit of predictability. However, the story remained strong and kept me anxious for the next book. The only item I felt was missing was a map detailing how this new world is laid out in relation to the world in 1870. Regardless if you like Steampunk or vampires, if you are interested in just a darn good story, pick up this book. I give the book 5 flags!