4 out of 4 stars
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The Hand Bringer by Christopher J. Penington is a mix of supernatural horror and science fiction. Peter Hadrian is a cop who gets attacked by a man who seems to have a superhuman strength during what's supposed to be his normal job. He and his partner Luke McElroy are brought into a military facility, where they're told that vampires exist. They have to become a part of a small team that is to be sent into a mission traveling back in time to eliminate vampires before they can become a threat. Their main target is Prince Vlad Tepes, knows as Dracula.
Vampire folklore and mythologies have existed since ancient times in different versions and passed through some more changes with their literary popularization in 18th and 19th centuries. Bram Stoker's Dracula was a sort of catalyst for those stories taking inspiration from both folklore and the historical Prince Vlad Tepes, nicknamed Dracula. More recently, new interpretations of vampirism mixed horror and science fiction, for example seeing it as a sort of disease.
Christopher J. Penington chose to mix classic folklore and a new interpretation pushing the science fiction element in a plot that includes time travel. The result is a novel in which the two elements are tightly intertwined, as are past and present.
The mission for the team sent back in time is to kill Vlad Dracula, but that quickly become a very complicated achievement. The plot is full of adventures in Middle Age's Romania, a land that was at the center of a number of wars during Prince Vlad's life. There are battles but there's also a romance element when the protagonists get involved with some women. The descriptions of sexual encounters don't go into explicit details, however, erotism is quite important in a novel definitely meant for adults.
Adventure is the most recognizable element of the novel's plot, but Christopher J. Penington uses it to develop a story that quickly becomes complex. Intrigue and time travel add layers of complexity with surprises and twists. You need to appreciate those elements and pay attention to details to enjoy this novel and fully understand its plot. The author seems to recognize that some readers might have a problem with such complexity, and in one of the last chapters uses two characters to explain some details in a conversation. Exposition is often negative in a novel, but in my opinion this is an exception.
Personally, I appreciated the novel's complexity because the result is much more than an adventure with vampires. In my opinion, intrigue and time travel are used well, mostly adding details here and there, without slowing down the pace. The important characters seem well developed, with well-defined personalities. My rating is 4 out of 4 stars to a novel well written and edited. I recommend it to people interested in a vampire story with something original.
The Hand Bringer
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