When I reviewed Samara Breger’s debut novel, Walk Between Worlds, I mentioned that she kept taking me by surprise, that whenever I thought I knew where the journey was taking me, there were twists. And I began the review by saying I didn’t know how to write about this book but that I really liked it a lot.
I have some of the same feelings towards this one. It’s a more mature book, on every level, be it the story or the writing. It took me a little time to get into it because Breger’s humour kept unsettling me. It’s a good thing, trust me. Everything about this book kept me on my toes. Vampires are supposedly not alive yet Poppy and those around her, her found family, are more alive than quite a few characters I’ve encountered in non-vampire books. There’s blood and laughter, an epicurean joie de vivre and appetite for life, such as it is, that make A Long Time Dead bloody brilliant (should I apologize for the pun?).
The story opens with Poppy waking up somewhere foggy in 1837, in pain and thirsty for blood. She’s just been turned into a vampire and the next few months will be spent learning how to manage her blood cravings and everything that goes with being a baby vampire, including (and it matters a lot to her and to the story) coming to terms with not enjoying food anymore. To help her on this journey of self-discovery, the mysterious and stern Roisin stays by her side, her only company for a while, until she sends Poppy to join a vampire family of sorts in London while she goes on a quest for revenge against the woman who sired them both as vampires.
A Long Time Dead spans decades of a love that cannot be, of a fight for eternity, for peace. Love in all its forms is at its tragicomic core, binding lives and existences, some for the better, some for the worse, though as it is romance, albeit dark and gothic, good will prevail, through gore and wits. On the way, there are orgies, drama, a whole lot of pining, some really fun scenes and some very rough ones. All written in beautiful and lush prose, with the baroque mood one expects from vampire stories and more (at times crass) humour than they usually feature.
If this is Breger’s sophomore novel, I am very much looking forward to what she’ll grace us with in the future. And I’ve already written several times about how much I love Ann McMan’s covers. This one is my new favourite. 5 stars