“It’s the learning that’s troubling you…. But the discovery makes you wonder. Knowledge is about facts. Faith is concerned with truth. They’re not necessarily the same.”
Blood of the Lamb, by Sam Cabot
Blue Rider Press, August 2013
432 pages (ebook)
“This document, dear friend, will shatter the Church…”
Reading these words in a letter in a dusty archive, Thomas Kelly is skeptical. The papers to which they refer have vanished, but Father Kelly, a Jesuit priest, doubts that anything could ever have had that power — until the Vatican suddenly calls him to Rome to begin a desperate search for that very document.
Meanwhile, standing before a council of her people, Livia Pietro receives instructions: she must find a Jesuit priest who has recently arrived in Rome and join his search for a document that contains a secret so shocking it has the power to destroy not only the Catholic Church, but Livia’s people as well.
As cryptic messages from the past throw Thomas and Livia into a treacherous world of art, religion, and conspiracy, they are pursued by those who would cross any line to obtain the document for themselves. Thomas and Livia must race to stop the chaos and destruction that the revelation of these secrets would create. Livia, though, has a secret of her own: She and her people are vampires.
*** I requested this review copy through NetGalley. ***
Blood of the Lamb was billed as “The Historian meets The Da Vinci Code.” I’d seen a few advance reviews, and it looked like it would be right up my alley. So when I saw it was available on NetGalley, I jumped at the chance to read it.
Personally I thought it was more similar to Dan Brown’s novel than Kostova’s, but it also reminded me of another church-meets-vampire thriller I greatly enjoyed — The Blood Gospel, by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell — though this one was not quite as action packed, and it takes the concept in a completely different direction.
I have to say, when it comes to its execution, the book could have been better. The search gets repetitive, I wasn’t quite invested in some of the subplots, and one of them in particular fizzles a bit after the climax. So, if you’re looking for something phenomenally exciting… I’m sorry to say, I don’t think this is it.
For me, the ideas behind the story make up for it. Personally I see this, not as a vampire story, but as one about faith and tolerance… not in a preachy way, but in a thought-provoking way. At the center of the story is a priest going through a crisis of faith (and not his first one) as he’s thrust into a situation that brings him face to face with a people he considers demonic and unnatural. I really enjoyed seeing his internal struggle, and I likewise enjoyed the discussions that came out of it. And while the sentiment was there, I never felt like I was being hit over the head with the can’t-we-all-just-get-along message.
It’s also a quick enough read that just when it was starting to feel monotonous, it launched into a pretty satisfying climax, and an intriguing ending.
I think Blood of the Lamb would probably appeal more to fans of religious thrillers than the vampire crowd… I suspect that it might not be “vampirey” enough for diehard fans. Also, if you’re put off by religious controversy, you probably want to give this one a pass. But personally, I thought it was well-worth the read.
Blood of the Lamb is available in print, as well as for Kindle, Nook, and other e-readers.
Does this sound like something you’d pick up? How do you feel about controversial topics in your fiction reading?