The Gathering
May 26, 2024
Book Review

The Gathering

reviewed by Lou Jacobs


The ultimate Vampyr book written as if it was obvious that vampyrs are an undeniable reality, not just lore. Embark on a journey to debunk numerous myths surrounding our beloved vampyrs.

This book could stand alone as an exciting police procedural but transcends this genre by integrating supernatural elements. Medically speaking, a vampyr’s physiology includes a minimal heartbeat, so they are not truly dead. They are not immortal but age slowly over a century. They cannot transform into mist or fly like bats. Contrary to popular belief, vampyrs can see their reflections in mirrors and do not require an invitation to enter a home. The notion that they are invincible is pure hogwash, although they can heal from injuries that would be fatal to humans. And, as is commonly known, a stab to the heart or decapitation works effectively.

Dr. Barbara Atkins, an expert in forensic vampyr anthropology and a homicide detective, is summoned to the remote town of Deadhart, Alaska—population 673 “Living,” as the sign declares. Tasked with investigating the murder of fifteen-year-old Marcus Anderson, she is cognizant of the mere five hours of daylight available in this frigid tundra. (Note that vampyrs can withstand sunlight but prefer to stay in the shade, as they will not burst into flames.) Her mission is to identify the perpetrator, whether a vampyr or a psychopath. A vampyr-involved killing could trigger a sanctioned “cull,” resulting in the mass slaughter of the entire colony, including children—some of whom are vampyrs turned at a young age, while others are born to adult vampyrs. The Vampyr Protective Act of 1983 was established to safeguard their communities. However, the locals demand swift justice, which could lead to a “cull.”

Marcus was last seen at dinner with his parents before meeting friends Stephen Garrett and Jacob Bell in a secluded hunter’s cabin to “fool around.” He never returned. The crime scene photos show Marcus, a skinny, lanky youth with blonde hair, sprawled on a dirty wooden floor in jeans and a sweatshirt. His throat was brutally mangled, with surprisingly little blood present, suggesting it was either cleaned up or consumed. His jacket, reported to be worn that night, was never found.

Vampyrs do not collect souvenirs or trophies! Solving this case will require the help of former sheriff Jenson Tucker, a near-recluse who barely survived a similar investigation twenty-five years prior. As the investigation progresses, dark secrets and corruption will be unearthed.

C.J. Tudor proves to be a masterful storyteller, weaving multiple plotlines into a dark and compelling mix. The suspense builds relentlessly, making it a gripping read filled with plot twists and red herrings. Her unique world-building skillfully juxtaposes prejudices against vampyrs with current issues of race, sexuality, political affiliation, and immigration. The narrative builds to an explosive and unexpected climax.

Thanks to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for providing an uncorrected proof in exchange for an honest review. Hopefully, this is not the last we see of Dr. Detective Barbara Atkins. Her character is wonderfully developed, deserving of a continued series.

The Gathering available at:

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