The Blood Is The Life.
By David Carrico.
My rating ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ out of 5 stars.
Chaim Caan was just out for a night of fun, blowing off some steam the way a young man will. After the better part of a year spent in COVID lockdowns, he was ready to let his hair down at a night club. But the young woman he encountered that night left him with something to remember her by: she turned Chaim into a vampire.
Soon, Chaim finds himself thrust into a weird underground world of mysticism and enchantment as he navigates life as the newly undead, trying to reconcile his beliefs as an Orthodox Jew with the new reality that has been thrust upon him.
He is forced to deal with a lot of change: to his body, to his mind, to his perceptions, to his relationships, and even to his world. He finds himself in parts of the world he had never dreamed of being in, and he finds himself doing things that he had never envisioned being a part of his life.
And if he can come to terms with these changes, this mild-mannered young man might just find himself a hero.
This was indeed a bit different vampire novel than the usual type of urban fantasy novels in that genre.
For starters, Chaim Caan is an observant orthodox Jew that, for reasons that are not really explained in the book, has been turned into a vampire. Those who knows a bit about the Jewish religion, especially their dietary restrictions, do probably see a wee bit of problem here already. A Jew condemned to live on a diet of blood is more than a wee bit of a problem actually.
The book also takes a bit more scientific approach to the entire vampire story. Actually, after having divulged his dilemma to a Jew Jewish Cleric who, although he has a hard time believing it at first but is rather open minded, he is put into contact with some people in the Jewish community who has some experience with this particular problem. Almost 300 years of experience actually. As it turns out, Chaim is not alone.
The book dumps the more supernatural parts of the vampire lore. Sunlight is still a bit of a problem but not a poof there goes the vampire up in flames kind of problem. Holy water, crosses, turning into a bat and all that is also gone. Increased strength, hearing and night vision is still on the menu though. And fangs of course. A vampire without fangs would not do.
So Chaim is enrolled in a program where his transformation to vampire is studied and at the same time his religious worries are discussed and laid to rest.
Sounds boring? Well it is not really. It is well done, the scientific part is interesting and so is the religious discussions actually. The latter never feels like preaching which is good since preaching would have put me off.
And this is just the start. Once Chaim has settled down we learn that the study is just the preamble to Chaim being “enlisted” in a small group of similar people using their newfound (or in some cases not so newfound, 300 years of experience remember) power to battle evil. At this point Chaim is enrolled in some real combat training, including Krav Maga of course, to maximize his vampire powers.
I quite like Chaim and I very much like his mentor. In the second half of the book Chaim partakes in a number of cases and the action increases exponentially. In the process a number of unsavory characters gets to learn the errors of their ways. For some the lesson is of a somewhat permanent nature.
Overall, for me, this was a very enjoyable book. It is well written and the unusual angle of the story kept my interest all the time. It is not clearly stated anywhere whether this book is intended to be part of a series or not but it certainly has all the makings of being the first in a series. There are for instance some unresolved questions like why Chaim was turned in the first place and who exactly is this mystery lady?
I for one would very much like to see another book about Chaim the Jewish vampire.