This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the first book in the “Blood of Eden” series.
Allison Sekemoto lives 60 years after the Red Lung plague wiped out much of the population. Vampires rule her crumbling city. She is Unregistered, meaning she isn’t subjected to the vampires’ frequent blood draws or forced to join their harems. It also means she doesn’t receive food rations, so she and her gang of street kids often go hungry.
Sometimes she sneaks out of the city through the old sewer system to search the ruins for canned food. The wasteland beyond the city is home to undead creatures called rabids, who feed on humans. When a vampire agreed to work with humans to prevent the extinction of both groups years earlier, rabids were inadvertently created. These creatures escaped into the world carrying the Red Lung virus and infecting humans and vampires alike.
On one scavenging trip, Allie finds a cellar full of canned goods. She brings back three of her friends to help her carry the food home. On the way back, two of the boys are captured and eaten by rabids. Another, named Stick, gets away while five rabids attack Allie. As she lies dying, a vampire named Kanin appears and offers her a choice: He will either allow her to die normally or he will turn her into a vampire. Allie hates vampires, but her survival instinct compels her to choose that option over human death.
Kanin sucks out Allie’s blood and has her drink his own. After Allie undergoes a painful transition, Kanin begins to teach her how to live as a vampire. She is adamant that she will never kill a human being, but Kanin assures her that her bloodlust and predatory instincts will get the better of her. Allie returns to her old home to see Stick. When Stick learns she’s a vampire, he runs away in terror to report her.
Allie and Kanin hole up in an old hospital, since Kanin is on the run from something in his past, which he doesn’t choose to share. After some weeks, he tells Allie he must leave her. Allie goes off on her own, wandering lonely roads far beyond her old city, with no idea of where she’s going.
Days and nights pass. Allie must burrow in the ground during daylight hours to sleep. She travels at night. One night, she encounters two bikers. They threaten to use her sexually, so she kills humans for the first time.
Another night she finds a young boy who has been separated from his group. She takes him to find his people and discovers they are a small band of nomads led by a former preacher named Jebbadiah Crosse. They travel at night as well. Jeb, a sullen old man who has lost his faith in God, is trying to guide his flock to a city called Eden. They’re not even sure the place exists, but it’s been called a safe haven without vampires. The little boy, Caleb, immediately takes to Allie. A young man in the group named Zeke, who is Jeb’s adopted son, urges Allie to travel with them.
Against her better judgement, Allie joins the group. She is constantly on her guard so she won’t drink the blood of any of her new companions. Her growing romantic interest in Zeke makes it especially difficult for her not to consume him. Jeb maintains a cold distance from her. A girl named Ruth, who likes Zeke, is suspicious of Allie and determined to discover her secrets. When Zeke finally catches Allie feeding on a dying man, he is torn. He considers killing her but has grown too fond of her to do so. He lets her get away.
Allie knows Jeb’s group will be attacked by rabids when they try to move on that night. She prevents the attack and continues to follow them at a distance to keep them safe. Other bikers, minions of a vampire king named Jackal, capture everyone in the group but Zeke. Allie tells Zeke she wants to help him get the others back. He’s reluctant at first but realizes he needs her assistance.
Together, they scour the city of Old Chicago and learn Jackal intends to use their group in one of his public dismembering ceremonies. Jackal has been searching for Jeb for years, since Jeb’s ancestors held critical knowledge that could eradicate the rabid population. Jackal demands that Jeb work on the cure in a lab Jackal has created. He coerces Jeb by killing some of the members of his flock.
Allie and Zeke make their way through the ruined city, much of which is underwater. Zeke gets his remaining friends to safety while Allie tries to rescue Jeb from the lab in Jackal’s tower. Jeb still doesn’t trust Allie and refuses to go with her. Jackal catches Allie in the tower.
When they discover Kanin was their mutual “father,” the one who turned them both into vampires, Jackal offers to let Allie rule his kingdom with him. When Allie refuses, they battle. Jackal has almost destroyed her when Jeb rushes up behind Jackal and pushes him. Both men sail out an open window.
By the time Zeke arrives, Allie is too hungry to resist. He lets her feed on his blood, but she stops herself before killing him or turning him into a vampire. Allie and Zeke return to the group, which Zeke has taken to a hiding spot outside the city. Allie sees a beacon light and realizes they’re very near Eden. When they arrive at the gateway to Eden, doctors take Zeke and others in to make sure they’re free of disease.
The hospital workers panic when they discover Allie is a vampire. The head of security lets her go without a battle since she promises to leave peacefully and never return. Allie says goodbye to the sleeping Zeke in his hospital room and leaves Eden. Based on dreams she’s had, she fears Kanin is in trouble. She plans to find him and do what she can to help.
Jeb was once the minister of Zeke’s church. Allie is fascinated when the group stops in an old church building. She’d never seen one because vampires had razed them all. Zeke, who wears a silver cross necklace, says he’s not afraid to die because he has faith that something better is waiting for him.
He reads the story of Moses and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea from the Bible to the younger kids. The kids ask Allie to read them something from the Bible, and she lands on a passage about people having no comfort because of their oppressors. She later tells Zeke the passage depressed her. He tells her there are other passages that can be very comforting if you know where to look. He shows her part of the 23rd Psalm to prove his point.
As Zeke begins to lead in Jeb’s place, he looks up to the sky and asks for a sign that he’s doing the right thing. Shortly thereafter, Allie spots a beacon in the darkness that leads them to Eden. After Zeke has been attacked, Allie prays. She says if God is listening and has any sense of justice, He won’t let Zeke die. She says she knows He’s probably anxious to get Zeke home, but she asks Him to let Zeke stay a little longer because he’s needed on earth.
One of Jeb’s followers sometimes belts out old hymns as they’re traveling. The same woman believes she can see devils and angels.
Despite her hatred for vampires, Allie’s survival instinct causes her to choose vampirism over mortal death. She acknowledges that, as a monster and a demon, she has lost any shot at eternity, if such a thing exists. Zeke says he’s going to keep trying to have faith because it’s what keeps him human. Allie scoffs, saying she doesn’t believe in God, nor does she believe humans have any good in them.
Jeb now believes God has abandoned the world. He says this post-apocalyptic world is the hell he and other sinners must endure. He’s convinced it’s too late to convert the world because God is no longer watching. He says that while he cannot offer his flock God, he hopes he can offer them something by getting them to Eden. He says he knows it is no Promised Land or paradise.
Even though he no longer believes in God, he tells his flock they have to keep fighting evil and not be tainted by demons. It is the only way to have a shot at eternity after death. As Jeb beats Zeke, he says the young man must kill everything that tempts him or makes him question his morals and faith.
Allie’s mother is dead, and she never knew her father. When Zeke was a boy, Jeb adopted him. Jeb taught Zeke about faith, though he has now lost faith himself. He frequently beats Zeke, believing he’s training him and grooming him for leadership. As second in command, Zeke demonstrates compassion to Jeb’s people. He is nurturing to the children, welcoming to strangers and willing to trust Allie even after he discovers she’s a vampire.
The Lord’s name is frequently used in vain. Words including d–n, s—, screw, p—ed, h—, b-tch, whore, suck, b–tard, a–, crap, freaking, d–k and balls appear often. Zeke’s friend flips him off.
Numerous graphic battles occur between humans, rabids and vampires. The bloody scenes include mutilated flesh, dismemberment, feeding frenzies, screaming and death. People and creatures are thrown against walls. Skulls smash. Bones pop, crunch and grind. Allie has heard rumors about human gang members bullying trespassers before cutting them up and eating them.
Kanin slices into Allie’s wrist with a dagger so she will see how quickly she can heal. Before Allie becomes a vampire, she cuts herself so the smell of her blood will distract a vampire who has attacked her friend. An enemy vampire tells Allie how much he enjoyed watching Kanin’s last protégé suffer as he peeled off the man’s skin. Allie’s body writhes and arches as Kanin turns her into a vampire. She says the bite feels like simultaneous agony and pleasure.
Several men are prepared to rape Allie until she bites and kills them. Despite her desire not to harm or kill humans, Allie cannot contain her growing lust for human blood. Jackal often gathers his minions in an arena to watch bloody battles. He has one of Zeke’s friends caged and attacked on stage by a rabid. Zeke says when his mother was sick and weak, she failed to show up at one of her scheduled bloodlettings for the vampires. They came to her house and took the blood anyway, and she never recovered.
A man with whom Jeb’s group lodges is bitten by a rabid. His family locks him in a cage so he won’t be able to hurt others if he becomes rabid himself.
Allison recalls kissing one of her male friends from her early home. He wanted to do more, but she wasn’t sure she was ready. On two occasions men threaten to use Allie for sexual purposes. A few veiled sexual references appear in conversations between Zeke and a friend. Allie and Zeke kiss a few times. She usually pulls away quickly because she’s afraid she’ll bite him.
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