Today is my stop on the blog tour for ‘The Ancient Ones’ by Cassandra L. Thompson organised by Storytellers on Tour, this is the first book in The Ancient Gods trilogy and the second book in the series ‘Liminality’ is due for release on the 31st October!
I hope that you will check out the book and the author, and enjoy the rest of the tour with the schedule in the banner below or (HERE).
Disclaimer – I received a copy in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are my own.
Some things are not meant to 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.
We’re one day short of the spooky season, but there is a chill in the air and pumpkins in the shops (and in your coffees) and The Ancient Ones is one hell of a book to help kick off the season. In some ways this book has as many flavours as Halloween candy, as it threads and weaves through dark fantasy, historical fiction, mythology, Gothic Horror and at its very centre a tale of love and loss and life (and death) – and yet Thompson brings it together into a delicately woven web that balances those elements, to create a captivating story, that doesn’t so much sink its claws into you, as it wraps itself around you inside and out.
I loved the sound of The Ancient Ones from the summary (and I just adore the colours on the cover), but I was a tad hesitant as I’ve always been a wee bit hit or miss with Gothic Horror. I love the atmosphere this genre has, but often I find that it’s not enough to keep me enraptured if the plot or characters don’t hook me. That was not a problem here. However, firstly I do have to say that it was the writing in The Ancient Ones that really got to me from the very first page. Thompson doesn’t just write the atmosphere, she brings it to life with vivid descriptions that have you walking through smog-choked streets in London, to locations cloaked in wilderness, to the point where you don’t need to close your eyes to be there. This book is a feast for the senses, and for anyone who like me, loves lyrical writing and descriptions (and not too flowery – believe me there’s more than a bit of bite to this book), and honestly, I could have quite happily have lost myself within the pages of the book for a lot longer.
Where this book stood out for me and rose above that Gothic Horror feeling is that there was so much more packed into this book than that atmosphere. The characters were as beautifully, vividly realised as the world around them, and just as complex. Right, from the very first interactions I was in love with how Thompson wrote her characters, and this only grew as we got to know more about the main character David. There is a lot I don’t want to say, because his story is one that should be discovered and experienced for yourself, and his interactions with many of the other characters feed into that – as I said above, this was a delicately woven web and everything pulls together in ways that you really need to read for yourself. What I will say is that I really enjoyed how deeply we delved into his story, into the bonds he shared with others and with the emotions and tragedy around him, there were layers upon layers in his story – a tale that spanned across history and many different places. It was a wonderful feeling that you were there in the opium den listening to his story, but simultaneously travelling alongside him throughout it. Another character that has to be mentioned is Lucius – both saviour and downfall, the connections and relationship between them were marvellous to behold and really well done.
We can’t talk character without talking about the love story that is the backbone of the book. This is the kind of romance I love – profound, beautiful and absolutely heart-wrenching in places. The Ancient One takes the concept of a love written in the stars, a love that is so strong that it isn’t bound by time or space and pushes it to the maximum, and it is fantastic, and painful and cruel. It is a wonderful exploration of what love can be, and what love can do – the good and the bad – and as with all the emotions and atmosphere within this book, it is written in such a way that you have to feel it all.
Fittingly the plot is as multi-layered and far-reaching as the characters themselves, and it had the potential with the scope of the timeline to be overwhelming, but Thompson’s careful hand on the tiller means that we negotiate David’s life by focusing on the key moments while maintaining that sense of time passing, and the weight of a life lived over such a period. Again we have that focus on the emotional moments, the ones that shaped him most – and it was truly fascinating watching him grow and change, losing himself and finding himself, and there wasn’t a single missed beat. The plot takes us across time, and here we also see another strength of this book and that is the research and passion for the historical elements, and how faith and mythology are shaped by and help shape those times. There is a depth here that speaks of a love of the subject matter, and it is woven in with the same careful skill as the rest of the book so that as it unfolded it felt organic and we had the knowledge we needed as and when it was required.
This was far more than what I was expecting when I picked up this one, and I was pulled in from the very start and I’m delighted to know that the second book is coming out on Halloween (fitting that I can start and end the spooky season with this series). If you want a dark tale as the night draws in, a vampire tale with a difference, and one that will make you think and feel and lose yourself in the pages, then this is the book for you.
Gothic horror writer Cassandra L. Thompson has been creating stories since she got her grubby little hands around a pen. An Ohio native, she earned her BA in History from Cleveland State and her MLIS from Kent State. When she is not busy managing a house full of feral children (human and canine), you can find her wandering around cemeteries, taking pictures of abandoned things, exploring lonely patches of woods, or in the library doing research. She is the founder of the gothic fiction press, Quill & Crow Publishing House and she writes short horror stories for her blog, Tales From the Shadows.
Quill & Crow Publishing House:
Prize: A print copy of The Ancient Ones by Cassandra L. Thompson – International
Starts: September 26th, 2021 at 12:00am EST
Ends: October 3rd, 2021 at 11:59pm EST
You can enter HERE.
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.