No Shelter From Darkness
The Cruentus Saga
Mark D. Evans
Genre: Paranormal, Horror
Number of pages: 304
Cover Artist: Greg Simanson
“Her hands began to shake as she looked down wide-eyed at the blood-soaked cotton that covered her.”
London emerges from the Blitz, and every corner of the city bears the scars. In the East End—a corner fairing worse than most—thirteen year-old Beth Wade endures this new way of life with her adoptive family. She also suffers the prejudice against her appearance, an abiding loneliness and now the trials of adolescence. But with this new burden comes a persisting fatigue and an unquenchable thirst that ultimately steals her into unconsciousness . . .
What happens next is the start of something Beth will fear more than the war itself. She begins to change in ways that can’t be explained by her coming-of-age, none more frightening than her need to consume blood. The family who took her in and the former best friend who’s taken refuge in their house can never know. Aware of the danger she poses to everyone around her, Beth has never felt more alone. But someone else knows Beth’s secret . . . someone who understands just how different she really is. He alone can decrypt her past and explain her future. But he’s been sworn to destroy her kind, and as Beth grows ever more dangerous, he’s forced to take sides.
Can Beth keep all of the secrets? Can she trust a man sworn to kill her? And can she stop the vampire within from taking her humanity?
No Shelter From Darkness by Mark D. Evans
Review by Scott
4 of 5 Stars
Mark D Evans No Cover From Darkness is a nail biting coming of age novel set among the romantic and dangerous world of World War Two London during the Nazi bombing runs that razed the city. It's a horror story in the high romantic tradition of Shelley, Stoker, and Stevenson. Evans lays groundwork for a series that promises to grow into a pulpy action horror fun, but his origin story is all character, about an orphaned girl, Beth, who grows into a vampire as she moves into puberty, and the horrors of adult life, and all it's passion and thrills, mirrored in her vampire awakening.
Much of the action of Darkness is inward. Elizabeth, or Beth, the protagonist, is for the most part a normal girl, adopted into a middle class London family at birth, and raised in a sheltered world of school and pesky little brothers. The Nazis bombing raids wreak havoc upon the family's life, and the neighborhood, and between the terrorizing bombs and the aftermath of the explosions, Beth has plenty to worry about. Her friend Mary has lost her parents and takes up home with her family. Her mother works long hours at the hospital, and baby brother Oliver and Beth have to fend a bit for themselves among the hawkish and predatory children of a bombed out London. All the while, Beth is dogged by sickness, and soon learns she is not what she seems, and the revelation of her nature shakes her to the core.
Evans puts you in the thick of action, whether its a bombing scare, a bully shake-down, or a family standoff, it is in these intense moments where Beth comes of age as the bombs flash, the shelter shakes, and Beth has to face her new identity. There have been sympathetic novels about vampires before, but Evans has not only tweaked the motif, his setting allows for a layered rich tale. The climactic and cinematic scene where Beth grapples with her inner vampire nature, the pains of her new vampire body, and the doubts of her human family, the danger is both inside and outside Beth, and equally real as bombs fall around her, and her “sister” Mary faces off against her.
The characters in No Shelter From Darkness face darkness in a variety of forms, and it’s a metaphor that goes the distance. Bill, Beth's adopted father becomes the typical distrustful parent most teenagers face, save Bill plays that role because he is a trained vampire hunter, a member of the Ministry, hiding and protecting Beth, or perhaps only corralling her, and keeping her from harming others. Beth's need for a blood fix brings to mind the vampire/addiction metaphors so explored in films in the last twenty years. The city itself is grand character that comes to life as it lurches forward during the war years.
Make no mistake, the action and thrills run like a spike through a vampire's heart in No Shelter from Darkness, and like the gothic novels of the previous centuries, the action is centered in the minds and hearts of the characters. Evans knows that a good thriller starts with an evocative and richly drawn world, and the characters that live there. Four Stars.
This book was provided free of charge as part of the tour for an honest review.
Beth breathed furiously. She was exhausted, but the air she breathed had a new scent to it. It stopped her short. Her insides jumped in excitement at the rusty metallic scent. Her jaw twitched and her body flinched. She spun her head around, toward the aroma. Oliver had felt his way back to the uneven wall and leant against it cradling his arm. He sobbed and whimpered, while looking aimlessly at it. Beth could see what he couldn’t: a jagged edge of bone poking out from his forearm. He was slightly sheltered under the broken floorboards above him, and the rain wasn’t washing away the blood that now oozed freely. Beth didn’t need to see everything. She could smell it.
Beautiful, delicious, unparalleled and unbeatable human blood.
Her head tipped forward. Her nose flared involuntarily and her lips snarled into a sadistic smile. She felt the four pointed canines being pushed out; unsheathed. The tip of her tongue curled under one of the two fangs that slid down. Her heart deafened the rain and the approaching bombers. Almost subconsciously, she lowered herself into a half-crouch, ready to pounce, and though her nails were trimmed short, her fingers curled into claws. She couldn’t even feel the hole in her palm any more. She felt nothing at all except raging bloodlust. Her brother leant there sobbing, oblivious to the bloodthirsty creature no more than a yard away that wanted nothing more than to cover everything with his precious life force. To swim in his blood.
Beth could almost taste it.
About the Author:
MARK D. EVANS was born near London, England. He graduated university with a degree in something not even remotely connected with writing and went on to become a successful consultant. Then he threw it all away to chase his dream of being an author, via a considerable amount of travelling. Today, his life largely resembles that of a nomad, and he can currently be found typing away in a tiny flat in north London, sustained by coffee.
He is the author of two short stories, one of which made it into a Kindle Top Ten.
His latest work is his debut novel, No Shelter from Darkness, which is the first book in his series, The Cruentus Saga.
Visit Mark online: