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Friday, January 7, 2011

Stefan Petrucha: "Blood Prophecy"

Author: Stefan Petrucha
Title: Blood Prophecy 
Plot Type: HIS UF
Ratings: V-5; S-2; H-1
Publisher: Grand Central, 2010

     In this unique take on the vampire story, the plot follows Jeremiah Fall from his life (really, the end of his human life) among the Puritans in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1644 all the way to his fateful encounter with the "forgotten man" at the site of the Garden of Eden (near the junction of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers) in 1799.  

     One day, while Jeremiah and his father (Nathan) are plowing their fields, Nathan unearths a monster (called Skog).  Skog sucks Nathan dry, apparently killing him, but Nathan comes back as a vampire three days later and bites Jeremiah. Jeremiah dies and then also rises as a vampirealthough the "v" word is never used in this novel.  Constantly fighting to hold back the "beast" within him, Jeremiah becomes obsessed with finding a cure for his horrible condition; he desperately wants to be human again.  

     Jeremiah has the usual vampiric traits: horrific sun sensitivity (his skin smokes and burns), the need for blood (he sucks on a LOT of rats), super strength, and the ability to vanish into the shadows. Early in his search, Jeremiah hears of an Abenaki (American Indian) legend that implies that a certain stone can heal him. 

     After studying archaeological and religious documents and learning to decipher the ancient languages, he makes his way to Egypt, where Napoleon's armies are advancing on the Mamelukes.  There, with warring armies on all sides, he discovers the stone that he believes will cure him:  the Rosetta Stone. After the stone is stolen by Skog's cult, Jeremiah follows the stone on a Quixotic quest, first to the mythical city of Ys (in Brittany), then back to Egypt, and finally to Eden, where the plot is resolved in a mystic, but violent, clash involving Jeremiah, Skog, and Bandias (the "forgotten man," who traces his lineage back to the time just before the creation of Adam and Eve).

     Along the way, Jeremiah picks up two companions: Hylic, a Russian member of Skog's cult who frequently switches sides, and Amala, a beautiful Arab woman who can read the hieroglyphics on the stone and who plays an important part in the final scene.

     The open-ended finale leaves things open for Jeremiah to have further adventures in future books.  

     Here are two important bits of information that will be helpful in reading the story: First, the biblical story of Jeremiah and the potter (Jeremiah 18) is crucial to understanding Jeremiah's situation.  The story is told and retold several times during Jeremiah's adventures.  Second, be on the lookout for the onomatopoetic word thok, which appears several times in the story and has an important connotation for Jeremiah.

     Petrucha provides a free short story about Jeremiah ("Fall and the Jersey Devil") on his website. (Scroll down below his biography to find the story.)  

     Fans of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's Saint-Germain series should enjoy this book because, like Saint-Germain, Jeremiah takes part in a number of actual historical events.

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