Dark, Fantasy, Favorites, Reviews

REVIEW: Empire of the Vampire (Empire of the Vampire #1) by Jay Kristoff

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Synopsis:

From holy cup comes holy light;
The faithful hands sets world aright.
And in the Seven Martyrs’ sight,
Mere man shall end this endless night.


It has been twenty-seven long years since the last sunrise. For nearly three decades, vampires have waged war against humanity; building their eternal empire even as they tear down our own. Now, only a few tiny sparks of light endure in a sea of darkness.

Gabriel de León is a silversaint: a member of a holy brotherhood dedicated to defending realm and church from the creatures of the night. But even the Silver Order couldn’t stem the tide once daylight failed us, and now, only Gabriel remains.

Imprisoned by the very monsters he vowed to destroy, the last silversaint is forced to tell his story. A story of legendary battles and forbidden love, of faith lost and friendships won, of the Wars of the Blood and the Forever King and the quest for humanity’s last remaining hope:

The Holy Grail.

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Nevernight Chronicle, Jay Kristoff, comes the first book of an astonishing illustrated dark fantasy saga.


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MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

Where do I even begin? I truly have so much to say and so many emotions that it’s hard to pick where to start this review…

Well, I suppose I should start with the fact that I have been a Jay Kristoff fan for a while. I read Illuminae first and later read Nevernight by him. Both of which, I really enjoyed. They were very different but spoke to me in their own ways. I heard about this book years ago when Jay first started promoting it. I was so stoked for it to come out in 2020, but it was pushed back to 2021 for understandable reasons. Anyways, I knew the general premise of Gabe telling the story and that it was about a world with evil vampires. I was a little leery because male main characters can be a real miss for me and vampires aren’t a genre I gravitate towards. But after seeing what Jay did with Illuminae and Nevernight, I was willing to give this book a go.

After watching Jay promote this book and the hype train get bigger and bigger, I let myself fall deep into the train. I somehow own 21 editions of this book. No, that is not an exaggeration. A small part of me worried that I was wasting my money if I disliked this, but a louder part of me had confidence that Jay would make me fall in love with this world. So I dove full on in and on release day, I was up at the book store buying yet another copy of this book as soon as they opened.

After quite literally consuming this book these past few days, I can say that every single penny that I spent was worth it. This book is without a doubt in my top three favorite books of all time. And I absolutely love that because it has become so hard to find books now that can become top favorites like that. It hasn’t happened for me in years at this point. I don’t think there is an accurate way for me to put my feelings towards this book down on paper. There are so many wordless emotions I have and deep feelings that I could never portray by speaking them. All I can say is that this book spoke to me. It gripped my heart and made me never want to leave. The characters felt so raw and real to me and the world felt the same. The broken parts of this world hurt so bad and the small glimpses of hope that these characters had warmed my heart.

“If he wanted a war, I would be it. If he wanted a fear, let it be me.”


Gabriel- Despite struggling with some male characters in the past, I am happy to say that I bonded with Gabe pretty much instantly. From the beginning prologue-like chapters, I felt a pull to him. I wanted to see what made this broken, jaded, smart ass man the way he is. And after reading this story and the small amount he told us (in the grand scheme of this being 1 of 3 books), I can say that I love him with my heart and soul. A part of me connected in an indescribable way to the part of him that has lost something. As someone who has gone through loss, I can say that the way Gabe deals with it and how it was portrayed felt so realistic to me, that I found myself tearing up at the smallest glimpses of Gabe’s pain. I felt a bond with him that only people who have lost those closest to them can feel and there are no words that I can give you to describe what that means to me. To have a character speak to those dark and broken parts of myself is something that I don’t know if I’ve ever truly had. And I can’t think Jay Kristoff enough for that, truly.

“May I present Dior Lachance, Prince of Thieves, Lord of Liars, and incorrigible little bastard.”


Dior- I might be starting to sound like a broken record at this point, but it’s hard to describe how I feel about Dior. When I think about her, I just get this light and giddy feeling. She was one of my favorite parts of this book and the whole plot twist surrounding her gender completely blew my mind. Like I just sat there for 10 minutes after that chapter staring in to space, thinking about how mind blowing it was. I 100% did not see it coming at all, not even a little bit. The rest of the book, I was almost always smiling when she was around. Her banter with Gabriel was fantastic and seeing their relationship grow both broke and mended my heart. I am scared to death for Dior’s safety in the future books and I am not ready for the inevitable separation of her and Gabe.

“Because I miss them, like a piece of me is missing. And I love them, like love is all I was. And there is nothing I’d not do, no depth to which I’d not sink, no price I wouldn’t pay to have them back and here with me. Because they were my all and my everything.”


Astrid- I loved Astrid. I adored all the parts with her in it and I couldn’t get enough scenes with her. She knew what she wanted and went after it with her whole self. I definitely got strong Mia Corvere vibes and I’m honestly down for that! The only complaint I would have is that I wish we got just a little more of her and more development of her and Gabe’s relationship.

“You play a game you cannot win.”


Liathe- Did I know she was going to be important in some way? Yes, because she kept appearing and Jay put a lot of emphasis on her character. Did I have any idea she was going to be who she was until like the page before we found out? No. Once again, this was a plot twist I did not see coming at all. And to be honest she is one of the characters I am the most excited for in the future books. I have a feeling the relationship and the dynamics between her and Gabe in the future books will be rocky and heartbreaking. I’m also dying to know what she wants with Dior and what her true motivations are.

“It matters not what you hold faith in. But you must hold faith in something.”


Aaron & Chloe- These are the two that I probably had the biggest emotional changes about over the course of the book. Aaron, I hated and could not stand at the beginning, but I adored him by the end. Chloe, I really liked and was rooting for in the beginning, to only hate by the end.

“Hearts only bruise. They never break.”


Justice and Jezebel- Yes, these two characters deserve their own section because they were the MVPs of this book. My heart was ripped out of my chest when they both died and I am truly not okay with it.

“I didn’t give this sword a name, girl. She came with one.”


Ashdrinker- A talking sword that has been broken and has a mysterious past you say?? There is literally nothing else you could say to have me more intrigued.

”Thou shalt suffer for this, Silversaint. And it shall be legendary.”


The Forever King & the Vampires- It has been a while since the villains of a story truly scared me, but the ones in this book for sure did. They were evil incarnate, and Jay did the vampire thing so well! I truly see how this entity that puts no value in time is scary and feels like such a big obstacle to overcome.

I could sit here and try to go over all my feelings about the rest of the characters but there are truly so many that it would take hours. The rest of the characters I had probably the appropriate feelings you’re supposed to have. Some I changed how I felt over the course of the book and others I felt lukewarm about.

“We believe in life after death because oblivion is too dark an abyss to stare into. We tell ourselves our creator cares, because the thought of a maker who doesn’t is too terrifying to consider.”


There is one more thing I wanted to talk about before we get to the end of this review. And that would religion and the role it plays in this story. I am personally religious, so seeing what Jay did with it in this book was interesting. Seeing Gabe go through this roller coaster of believing in it, losing his faith, and then finally putting it back into Dior broke my heart and sealed it back together again. Whenever religion and God were brought up in this book, I could tell that Jay Kristoff had thought about these things before and it made Gabe’s journey feel easier to connect to. I’ve never seen something like that and there were times where it brought me to tears.

To end this review, all there is left to say is that this book left its mark. Almost instantly after finishing it, I felt one of the worst book hangovers of my life come over and it hurt to know there was nothing left to read. I went to bed thinking about this book, I dreamed about it multiple times during the night, and it was the first thing I thought about when I woke up. If that doesn’t speak to how much I love this book, I don’t know what does. I went through one of the biggest emotional roller coasters I’ve gone on in a long time while reading this. There were literally points where there were tears streaming down my face for thirty minutes straight and parts where I was so angry at what was happening to these characters that I was shaking. But all of that just speaks to how beautifully written this book was… And I wouldn’t trade it for the world! There aren’t enough words in the dictionary to describe how much this story means to me or how much I need the next book!

Dark, Fantasy, Reviews

Darkdawn (The Nevernight Chronicle #3) by Jay Kristoff

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Goodreads | Amazon US


Synopsis:

A ruthless young assassin’s journey for revenge comes to a stunning end in the conclusion of this acclaimed epic fantasy trilogy.

The Republic of Itreya is in chaos. Mia Corvere has assassinated Cardinal Duomo and rumors of Consul Scaeva’s death ripple through the street of Godsgrave like wildfire. But buried beneath those same streets, deep in the ancient city’s bones, lies a secret that will change the Republic forever.

Mia and her brother Jonnen must journey through the depths of the ancient metropolis. Their quest will take them through the Godsgrave underdark, across the Sea of Swords, back to the library of the Quiet Mountain and the poisoned blades of Mia’s old mentors, and at last the fabled Crown of the Moon. There, Mia will at last discover the origins of the darkin, and learn the destiny that lies in store for her and her world. But with the three suns now in descent, and Truedark on the horizon, will she survive?


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Fear was poison. Fear was a prison. Fear was the bridesmaid of regret, the butcher of ambition, the bleak forever between forward and backward.

Fear was Can’t. Fear was Won’t. But fear wasn’t ever a choice.

To never fear was to never hope. Never love. Never live. To never fear was to never smile as the dawn kissed your face. To never fear solitude was to never know the joy of a beauty in your arms.

Part of having is the fear of losing. Part of creating is the fear of its breaking. Part of beginning is the fear of your ending. Fear is never a choice. Never a choice.

But letting it rule you is.”

Okay… To be completely honest with you, I have no idea how to write this review. My thoughts and feelings are just too complicated and all over the place to put into words. And, to be honest, you can probably find a much more conclusive review out there that will be able to articulate their feelings better that mine. All I can really say that might get my point across is that this series means a lot to me, for many reasons.

One of which is that my mother passed away while I was reading it… And the ironic part about that is that my mother was the one that warned me away from this series. I let her read the Caveat Emptor and, I kid you not, she looked up at me and said, “Why the hell are you reading this?”. You see anyone that knows me knows, that I am soft-hearted, a hopeless romantic, and I hate when a book ends in anything less than happy. So, my mother thought she was protecting me when she tried to warn me away from it. Little did I know, me pushing past her warning would save a part of me when my mother had a heart attack 6 days later.

After what happened to my mom, I understood Mia’s character on a level that many people just can’t understand. I understood her fury, her need for vengeance, and her hate. I knew firsthand what it was like to lose a parent and to want to hurt anything or anyone that took them away from you. To want to scream at the world that it’s not fair. Not right. But, through Mia, I also learned acceptance of the fact that it’s never “fair”. That no matter what world you live in or what god(s) you have, life just isn’t fair. It takes from anything and anyone. But you’ve got to live through it anyways. Because what else can you do? You either let the unfairness carry you away in a sea of despair, or you say, “F that” and you fight. You fight every day to live and try to be happy. Because no one else is going to do it for you.

So, to some up those long paragraphs, Mia Corvere and her story mean a lot to me. Not only because of who she is, but the experiences that we have had that tie us together. I will always love Mia and she will forever hold a place in my heart that no other character can. So, the purpose of this review is that I want to thank Jay Kristoff, from the bottom of my heart, for giving me a chance to know her. It’s been a wild ride, and I don’t regret a minute of it.

I can’t wait to see where Jay will take me next.


Other Books in the Series:

5 🍁s ~ Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1) by Jay Kristoff

5 🍁s ~ Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicle #2) by Jay Kristoff