I absolutely loved the Nevernight Chronicles by Jay Kristoff and was eagerly anticipating this book. It took me almost 2 months on and off reading to finish this 700+ page, 27+ hour audiobook, but I did it!
Title: Empire of the Vampire
Author: Jay Kristoff
Series: Empire of the Vampire #1
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal
First and foremost, let me take a moment to say how proud I am of myself for finishing this monster of a book. And mind you, this is an adult novel – meaning the print is small and the pages are long, unlike young adult, where the typeset is larger. A 700 page YA book hits differently than an adult science fiction novel.
This is going to be less of a review and more of a stream of consciousness thoughts. Some minor spoilers ahead.
This book is LONG. I mean, we all know its long, but its LONGGGGG. This is Gabriel’s story, and he’s telling it directly to a vampire who will chronicle Gabe’s life as he sits in prison awaiting execution. I’m not sure if we know why Gabe is awaiting execution, honestly I forgot by the time this book ended if we even know.
Because Gabriel is telling his story, and in turn we are reading it, none of this is chronological. He jumps around to how he sees fit to tell it and we go from his childhood of living with his mother, father who hates him, and two younger sisters, to finding out he’s a half-vampire himself, but he’s a good half-vampire and will help kill other vampires, the bad ones. Then we jump to him being a teenager learning to fight and use his powers for good. In another section we jump to his adult life after he has been shunned from his order of vampire do-gooders for choosing to take a wife and have a child – something strictly forbidden by their God in the holy vampire order. It continues jumping around without reason and there were sections I enjoyed more than others.
I listened to the audiobook and this time jumping was extremely confusing at first before I finally realized what was happening. That in itself didn’t bother me, I like a good challenge. I wasn’t feeling this book from the beginning but I gave it a chance – it took me a while to get into Nevernight and now I consider it one of my favorite books of all time – so I was willing to be patient with Empire too.
Sadly, this book did not live up to expectations. I pushed through to the very last page hoping it would get better, but it did not. It wasn’t awful, but I could have stopped at any time and been ok with my decision. I don’t know why I though this would be anything like a satisfactory ending when I know this is going to be a trilogy – so that was bad on me.
This book has a 4.46 rating on Goodreads at the time of writing this review, so clearly I’m in the minority, but this book did nothing for me.
I have mixed feelings on the audio, just as with the book itself. I thought the narrator was pretty good, but I wasn’t in love with him. He wasn’t a bad narrator and I’ve read some reviews stating listening to the audio helped them finish the book – but because of the complex nature of this book, I think I would’ve strongly benefiting from at least starting out reading the print and seeing the names/places/things written down to better grasp them. I don’t say that about a lot of books, but this one feels like one you should start reading or at least reading and listening together.
Sadly I am only giving this book 2 stars. I’m so disappointed I didn’t like this one more, and I kinda wish I DNF-ed it so I didn’t waste literal weeks on it, but I’m proud of myself to know it didn’t get better the more I read it and I finished it to the end. If you’re a fan of adult high fantasy with vampires – by all means, give this one a try. It just wasn’t for me.
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