Book Review: Bloodwalker by L. X. Cain #amreading
Lightning flashes. Another child disappears…
When Zorka Circus performs, its big top roars with laughter and cheers, but when it moves on, there are fewer children in the European towns it leaves behind.
Circus Security Chief Rurik suspects a killer hides among the international performers, but they close ranks—they’ve always viewed lightning-scarred Rurik as the monster. Nevertheless, he's determined to find the culprit and stop them before anyone else dies and the only place he can call home is ripped apart by the murders.
Into Zorka Circus comes the Skomori clan, despised as gravediggers and ghoulish bloodwalkers. A one-day truce allows bloodwalker Sylvie to marry. Instead, she finds a body. Alerting others will defy her clan’s strict rules, break the truce, and leave her an outcast.
When more bodies turn up, the killer's trail becomes impossible to ignore. Rurik and Sylvie must follow the clues—even if they lead to something unimaginable.
Bloodwalker is an amazing read. The story takes us inside a circus, where a mix of fierce loyalty, suspicion, and petty jealousy simmers among the performers. Another thread takes us inside the bloodwalker clan, whose practices and beliefs seem as antiquated as they are bizarre. Cain prefaces each chapter with an excerpt from The Bloodwalker's Book, a manual on handling the dead, a ghoulish touch.
Rurik and Sylvie are exceptionally likable characters and both are committed to integrity. They are also flawed. Rurik suffers from hideous physical scars incurred from lightening strikes and brings to mind a very noble version of Frankenstein's monster. Sylvie is cursed with bad luck. Whatever she strives to accomplish seems to go awry. Working separately, the pair arrive at the truth behind the murdered children and a string of bloodwalker deaths. A large cast of characters—each with their own selfish motives—stand in the way of Rurik and Sylvie.
I had an inkling of what was going on long before the conclusion, but Cain hides the overwhelming extent of the horror until the climax, which is both thrilling and dreadfully intense. This is a novel that pays off in spades (grave-digging reference intended). If you want characters you will gladly cheer for and suffer with and you don't mind a bit of ghoulish horror, read Bloodwalker.