Billie Sue Mosiman,
Malachi's Moon
(DAW, 2002)

In Red Moon Rising, Billie Sue Mosiman defined her own race of vampires and set in motion the sweeping events that were to take place in the future of the vampire nations. The first novel was impressive but, in some sense, incomplete.

The sequel, Malachi's Moon, not only takes the story further, it packs more of an emotional and action-oriented punch. In this fictional world, the source of vampirism is a hereditary mutated form of the blood disease porphyria; the disease can strike the children of vampires at any time or, in rare cases, not at all.

Dell Cambian became a vampire a few months before her high school graduation, and with the help of the ancient vampire Mentor, she chose the life of a Natural. Naturals do not feed on living things the way the much more aggressive Predator vampires do; they, along with the weak and sickly Cravens, buy their blood from the Predators. Mentor is a Predator who chose long ago to live a different kind of life, helping new vampires make the transition from death to undeath; he now faces the most monumental task of his centuries-old life. For the first time, vampires are lining up against vampires, instigated by a cunning and very dangerous revenant Mentor knows only too well, and Dell Cambian's only child, Malachi, becomes the ultimate target of those seeking to defy the laws of the vampire nations.

Malachi is special, for he is a dhampir, the son of a vampire mother and a human father. He possesses many of the strengths and abilities of a vampire, yet he can be killed just the same as any human being. An ancient vampire prophecy speaks of a dhampir who will come to slay many Predators; while some vampires may scoff at the notion, some take it very seriously. Balthazar, a powerful Predator, comes to Malachi in his childhood dreams in the form of a wolf, returning again and again over the years seeking a sign that Malachi is the dhampir of prophecy; by the time Malachi comes of age, Balthazar has amassed an army of Predators with which to remove the dhampir threat completely. Meanwhile, in the deep jungle interior of Thailand, multi-millionaire turned vampire Charles Upton spends two decades in an ancient monastery, imprisoned there by Mentor following the culminating events of the author's previous novel Blood Moon Rising. He dreams of true power, and when he finally manages to escape he wastes no time rounding up lone Predators for his own army. No longer will vampires remain in the shadows, invisible to humans, Upton preaches; it is time for the Predators to destroy their weak Craven and Natural brothers and claim the Earth as their own. When Balthazar and Upton join forces, even Mentor is unsure whether this awful Predator uprising can be put down.

I enjoyed this novel much more than its predecessor; the hows and whys (illogical as some of them may be) of vampire existence have already been explained, leaving more time for action and suspense in Malachi's Moon. I was a little disappointed in the vampire war itself, however, as we really don't get to witness a lot of hand-to-hand fighting firsthand; instead, we are told just how ferocious the battle was. I also think the parallel strands involving Upton's revolt and Balthazar's attempts to kill Malachi could have been interwoven just a little more closely. The final couple of chapters actually seem to take a little bit away from the force of the novel, and that fact struck something of a discordant tone in my head. Even still, Malachi's Moon is a truly entertaining and enjoyable novel, a vampire tale featuring more than a few dashes of originality. Mosiman particularly excels in the creation and continuous development of unique and memorable characters. These vampires actually provide telling glimpses into human nature itself, especially the emotionally torn and extremely humanistic Mentor. Malachi is himself a most interesting character, of course, with his rare blend of vampire and human makeup. I don't feel as if I really know and understand Malachi yet, but his story continues in Craven Moon, the third book in this unofficial series of the vampire nations.

I would heartily recommend Mosiman to those who love a good vampire novel. Mosiman's vampires are much different from the old stereotypical Dracula types that dominate the horror genre, and this author really knows how to keep a story moving at a steady pace.

by Daniel Jolley
22 October 2005

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