4 out of 4 stars
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The Hand Bringer by Christopher J. Penington talks about Peter, a street cop, who encounters a vampire during an intervention and gets bitten. Wounded, he is taken away by an ambulance, only to be intercepted by a team traveling by helicopter that takes him to a different location for healing. His friend Luke goes with him. Upon arrival, they learn that they have been brought to a secret research facility. Scientists are looking into vampirism and are trying to find a way to prevent vampires from taking over the world. Peter is the tool to achieve this. He gets genetically modified to be sent back to 15th century Romania, which is where and when the researchers believe vampirism started with Vlad Dracula. Peter agrees to this mission after having met Boriana, a beautiful female vampire held in captivity. Luke accompanies him on his time travels. Bat, a former convict, and Kolemis, a doctor, complete the team.
The author dedicates the first half of the book to introduce the scientific idea of battling vampirism, the main characters and their background story, the setting of 15th century Romania and the first encounters with vampires. The second half of the book is faster-paced, with detailed reports of battles with different groups of vampires. While the descriptions are quite graphic, I did not find them overly gruesome. Only one paragraph made me uncomfortable, where Dracula is handing out a specific punishment.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. The editing is well-done, apart from a handful of typos that did not impact the reading. The book has religious references that fit the story and, as such, should not be shocking or bothering.
There are plenty of elements I like. The author includes a lot of jokes and wit in the conversations between the main characters. Further, even though Peter is genetically re-engineered, he stays very human and relatable in his thoughts and behavior. The book also invites the reader to think about time travel. Peter's first comment sums it up nicely: "It seems to me that by going back in time that we're already part of history. But implicitly, if that's the case, we've already gone, and we've already failed since there are still vampires today...". The author maintains a sound logic about time travel and its impact up to the end of the book.
The part I liked most is the relationship between Peter and Boriana. Throughout the book, the author hints at a deeper connection between the two of them, and I kept wondering what it could be. I had one possibility figured out, but the author went a different route, which is revealed near the end.
I recommend this book to readers who like vampire stories and witty conversations. The readers should be comfortable with religious references, as well as explicit descriptions of gruesome fights and non-explicit references to adult relations.
The Hand Bringer
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