Some things never die…
When David stumbles upon a tragic young woman in a sordid Limehouse pub, he has no idea she’d recognize him as the last vampyre alive, nor that she’d be the one to pull out his story. Yet as he recalls his life from the sweltering vineyards of Ancient Rome to the cold horrors of Medieval Romania – as well as his tumultuous past with the mad and mysterious Lucius – he realizes she is much more than what she seems.
Gothic horror and mythological fantasy blend seamlessly together in this thrilling adventure, breathing new life into vampire lore as it reveals its true origins. The Ancient Ones is a tale of myth, mayhem, and magic … with a dash of romance that bites.
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The bond between the Daghda and the Morrigan transcends all time. I will always find you.
A tale of a love weaved into the very fabric of existence, The Ancient Ones is the captivating and eerie Dark Fantasy debut from author Cassandra L. Thompson. With flavors of Gothic Horror and Historical Fiction, the battle between dark and light rests at the heart of this story, while memories traverse eons upon the sands of time. As the account of an immortal life unfurls, readers are swept along an emotional journey roaming our beautiful world across generations. Immersive worldbuilding, perfectly crafted tragic characters, and enough lore and myth to keep even the learned satiated, The Ancient Ones is a sensational beginning to a promising series.
Thompson delivers us into the atmospheric depths of our own history in a completely absorbing way. The narrative takes place in the drab and smog-choked mid-nineteenth century city of London, as the last immortal chronicles his long life at the behest of a dying woman. Soon we’re utterly consumed by the details of the life of an ancient druid’s son turned Roman slave turned blood-thirsty immortal hunter. We find ourselves in awe under the magical evergreen canopy in Gaul, lost within the humid, clogged avenues of Roman marketplaces, and nestled deep in the Romanian snow-capped mountains, each environment portrayed in radiant detail. Shimmering stars glisten overhead, gentle winds carry the shrieking cries of crows, paths illuminated by the light of the full moon reveal timeworn secrets; the world is filled with the seen and unseen, each page drenched in the beauty of the past.
In addition to its striking settings, this book is populated by some of the most wonderfully complex and tragic characters I’ve had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with. The main focus of the tale is on David and his emotional accounts of the bonds he formed throughout his lengthy lifetime. Both during his short years as a human and his sprawling existence as an immortal there lies a common denominator – Lucius, his savior, his brother, his downfall. As darkness consumes his life, he survives the onslaught of an isolated reality, but there’s ancient magic calling in his blood. I wish I could go into thorough detail about his companions, because the revelations that come to light are done so in extraordinary ways, but doing so would be a disservice to you, dear reader. Thompson lays hints throughout the story, so be sure to pay attention!
I suppose all of us are capable of evil from time to time.
While the plot spans millennia, Thompson smartly pinpoints several moments in David’s life that have defined him. When I first experienced a time jump, I thought she may have been a bit too ambitious, but she easily proved me wrong, smoothly weaving the threads of his epoch into a compact retelling. We witness his growth in the face of jarring change, his brutal metamorphosis fueled by vengeance, his loss of humanity as a result of the poison in his veins, and his arduous path of absolution. There wasn’t a single passage added to this book that felt out of place or unnecessary – each serving a specific purpose to immerse us further into the story.
The romance Thompson tells of is exquisite and heartrending in equal measure. The preface introduces a love so profound that even death cannot keep those under its spell apart. It’s a love written in the stars, an aching yearning that transcends time and the planes of existence. It’s a cruel love that shifts the balance, where two souls wander an eternity in search of each other again and again. This is the backbone upon which rests the entirety of the story, the catalyst for all transformation. And it’s remarkably poignant.
One of my favorite aspects of this novel is the seamless infusion of myth, magic, and fate. The main narrative is spliced with the histories and customs from many pagan cultures, namely Egyptian, Celtic, Greek, and Roman, all with apparent common roots. These mythological portions play a large role in the story, and the author reveals her knowledge of humanity’s historical beliefs with beautiful, and at times savage, detail. The inclusion of the supernatural gives this Gothic Fantasy a modern flair, but still carries an air of old. I was completely enraptured right from the start, and I just didn’t want this mystifying adventure to end.
As soon as I read the blurb for The Ancient Ones, I knew this was a story I’d thoroughly enjoy, but it gave me so much more than what I was expecting. I read through this book far too quickly and fell in love with the story Thompson has crafted – I’ll be waiting with bated breath for the next installment. If you’re looking for a dark and charming tale of love, steeped in myth and the supernatural, then this may just be the book for you. I cannot recommend it enough.
Note: A huge thank you to the author for providing me with a complementary advance copy of this book via BookSirens in exchange for an honest review.
Cassandra L. Thompson has been creating stories since she got her grubby little hands around a pen. When she is not busy managing a house full of feral children (human and canine), you can find her wandering around in cemeteries, taking pictures of abandoned things, exploring lonely patches of woods, or in the library doing research on her latest obsession. But mostly she is staring off into space, imagining other worlds and things that go bump in the night.