To start with a summation, I’ll say this book (by Andy Frankham-Allen) is absorbing and satisfying. Initially, I didn’t feel that this was going to be the case. At the risk of the author’s wrath, I confess it took me more than a few pages to get into this story. That isn’t to say my attention wandered; I simply didn’t find it gripping, but I quickly accepted I probably opened the pages with more than a little bias, and the fault lies with me, not the writer. Knowing the author’s style my already active imagination worked overtime with anticipation, for I’ve been waiting for this book for more than a little while. The pace at the start was steady but a little slower than I was expecting. However, that’s my one and only negative and it’s a small one. I found the book increasingly absorbing.
I should say I’m going to be sharing a publisher with the author and our paths have crossed in writing circles enough to call each other friends. After reading The Seeker we eventually went on to write a book together for the series Space 1889. It says a lot of Andy’s tenacity that he talked me into co-authoring. However, if a writing acquaintance pens a book that I dislike, I simply never review it. Neither do I review all the books I do like, but I keep my evaluations generally for books that speak to me on some deeper level of enjoyment that makes the book a keepsake. The Seeker, book one of four in The Garden series, is such a book.
Absorbing and satisfying is the only description that fits the gradual expansion that made every distraction in my life irritating. By the time I reached halfway I’d find myself suddenly thinking of Willem and wonder what was happening to him as if his life hadn’t ‘paused’ while the book lay shut, but continued between the closed pages. That felt unacceptable; I wanted to be reading.
Willem is both a businessman and loving uncle, with much in his life to be thankful for including a long-standing friendship with his best mate, Jake. That’s not to say that Will’s life is without stresses and seeing Jake at long last appears to be getting serious with his latest girlfriend, Will decides to take a chance and follow what began as an internet romance to its logical conclusion, to meet up with the person he’s only known online. From here what happens after Will disappears leads the reader into a clever reworking of mythology extending back to ancient Egypt. As I immersed deeper into this supernatural world that exists in the undercurrents of our own, that initial steady pace began to make sense. One needs to fully know and understand Will to make what happens to him all the more involving.
It’s been a while since I read a book where I loved almost all the characters, both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and ached equally for them. There is much manipulation and secretive agendas that make the line between antagonist and victim blur, as do the lines of sexuality. Although Will is gay, this is not a homosexual novel, and it would be a tremendous pity if anyone dismissed the reading of it as anything less than it is — an engrossing narrative bringing new life to the vampire mythos that could equally interest vampire aficionados as well as those with no particular liking for the subject.
This is and isn’t a vampire book, just as it is and isn’t so many other things, but rather a satisfying blend, a commingling of old and new, the future and the past, complexities of relationships, love and hate. One is left feeling that these characters are all being moved like pawns in some great game where some fundamental rule or ‘truth’ is missing. Those who believe they are following a line of destiny are as helpless as a newly rebirthed upyr of the story. I hurt for Frederick in an almost equal way as I did Willem. In this expert way, the author humanises the villains of the piece, making the reader care even when a twinge of betrayal or guilt accompanies the feelings, for Willem remains the central pivot that wreaks havoc with the emotions, both with the other characters in the story and in turn with the person turning the pages.
Unusually for a book in a series, I have to agree with another reviewer who commented on the truly great ending, calling it both subtle and powerful. I’d like to add another word to that: perfect. It’s the perfect end at the perfect moment. I feel content enough to leave the story for now, and let the events I’ve learned so far percolate…with anticipation.
You can check out Andy’s Amazon page where you will see The Seeker has two covers but this is the latest: