In addition to writing, I love gaming. Mostly tabletop RPGs such as Dungeons and Dragons, but I’ll try just about any game once—board games, card games, online quests to rescue princesses in other castles. That Exsanguinate includes gaming and other geeky culture like writing code and such warms my heart.
Exsanguinate is a beautiful book, and I don’t say that often about horror novels. The cover is stunningly rendered and the inside of the book is no different. Time and attention is paid to the inside fonts and images at the beginning of each chapter.
While there are a few wordage slip ups—gate instead of gait, and palette instead of palate, for example—they don’t detract from the work put into this novel. There are some fantastic extras in the books as well, including a References section listing the movies, music, and even a restaurant that are mentioned in the book.
But Exsanguinate is not just horror. There are plenty of bloodshed and horrific scenes like breeding farms and blood orchards—remote areas where vampires keep human victims for food and for procreation—come to mind immediately that will unnerve the reader. But there are elements of high fantasy and courtly romance as well. I enjoy when a story has many genres mixed smoothly into one.
Our ‘fraidy cat protagonist Cheyenne O’Cuinn is being dragged out of the house on Halloween by he horror-loving sisters. To add to the anticipation and fear of the inevitable haunted houses, Cheyenne is due to meet her online boyfriend in person. Scary enough in itself. While at Halloween Scream Night, things go wrong. Cheyenne is attacked and wakes up in a hospital to discover both of her sisters are missing.
Before she can process that information properly, she discovers she’s turning into a vampire. She also finds there are werewolves and dragons in the world. Talk about piling on.
Cheyenne is sympathetic and relatable, especially to members of the geeky community. She is reclusive and most comfortable behind a computer screen. (Know that feeling.) But when her family and friends are in danger, she finds it in herself to push past her hesitance and get things done.
Slade has created a character to cheer for in this first installment of her trilogy, all the while placing her in true dangerous situations where you wonder how she’ll respond. The story ends in a good place, and you feel satisfied as a reader that while there is calm for now, the storm is yet to come. Several plot lines are still available for Slade to weave into any follow-up books.
And I look forward to the rest of the series.