TW (some of these were pulled from Illumicrate): Blood, gore, death/murder of a child, sexual assault, child abuse (physical), addiction, graphic animal deaths, alcoholism, torture, homophobia, blackmail, imprisonment

5/5 stars 

Why did I think it was a good idea to read the sampler of Empire of the Vampire? I might have screamed a little when I saw it in my inbox (thank you St. Martin’s Press!), but I did have to debate with myself if I really wanted to read a sampler that 100% would end on a cliffhanger (it did) and then be forced to wait until September to finish. In the end, I couldn’t wait and I can tell you that after reading the sampler, my excitement for September hasn’t dimmed one bit (and I’m dying a little each day as I wait). 

Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff felt like a reverse Interview with the Vampire, fused with The Witcher and a touch of Dragon Age: Inquisition…all topped with a constant feeling of dread and a ludicrous amount of really creative F-bombs. The book is told through an interview done between a vampire and a captive Gabriel de León, the last living member of a holy vampire-hunting order. The interviewer is tasked with recording Gabriel’s life story and despite being a member of the unholy undead, has the patience of a saint when it comes to dealing with Gabriel’s frustrating narration style. 

Throughout the book Gabriel switches between telling the story of his childhood and teen years, beginning from when the sun’s light was first dimmed in the sky and the vampires began to take over the earth, to jumping forward to his thirties where the vampires have essentially won. And he does all this while getting more and more inebriated. Unlike other books that jump between different times or POVs though, I did find that there were no parts I hated reading. While each jump was frustrating since it (of course) caused cliffhangers, both parts of Gabriel’s life were extremely interesting and kept my eyes glued to my e-reader. 

I really don’t want to spoil anything (I’m so glad I went into this without much knowledge beyond the blurb), so I’ve decided to put quick point-form thoughts of how I felt while reading the sampler:

  • The monsters are genuinely scary and it is SO refreshing. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty done with vampire books with vamps that are pretty 200-year-old high schoolers. While they are the predominant monsters (it is called Empire of the Vampire for a reason), there are other creatures that popped up in the sampler that I’m pretty sure Kristoff pulled from my deepest, darkest nightmares. 
  • Best. Weapons. Ever. Like seriously, there are so many awesome weapons with such amazing names! And this is coming from someone who doesn’t usually care that much about weapons. 
  • Every time something bad happened, all I could think was “it can’t possibly get worse, right?” before I remind myself that I only have the first 400 pages and that yes, it can get worse. 

This is not a book for you if you want: sparkly vampires, cute romance, a knight-in-shining-armor MC, or just an overall sense of happiness. If you like gritty, dark, thickkkkk books that keep you constantly anxious for the lives of the characters you like though, do yourself a favour and pre-order this book. This book (so far) was amazing and I really feel like a kid counting down the days befor Christmas as I wait for my… eight copies to arrive next month.

Empire of the Vampire is out September 14, 2021, and can be preordered from your favourite retailer. For those who like to collect, there are like a million different editions out there that are all stunning!

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