Freda Warrington's A Taste of Blood Wine was published by Titan Books in May 2013 (this novel was originally published in 1992). It's the first novel of the Blood Wine Sequence.
Information about Freda Warrington:
Freda Warrington is a British author, known for her epic fantasy, vampire and supernatural novels. Four of her novels (Dark Cathedral, Pagan Moon, Dracula the Undead, and The Amber Citadel) have been nominated for the British Fantasy Society's Best Novel award. Dracula the Undead won the Dracula Society's 1997 Children of the Night Award. Her novel, Elfland, won the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award in the Fantasy Novel category for 2009. Warrington has also seen numerous short stories published in anthologies and magazines.
Click here to visit the author's official website.
Information about A Taste of Blood Wine:
A tale of passion, betrayal... and blood.
On a First World War battlefield vampire Karl von Wultendorf struggles to free himself from his domineering maker, Kristian.
The Neville sisters flourish in decadent, hedonistic London society in 1923: champagne, parties and the latest illegal substancies. All except Charlotte, the middle of the three sisters who hides in a corner wishing she were back in Cambridge helping her professor father with his scientific experiments.
When Charlotte meets her father's new research assistant Karl, it is the beginning of a deadly obsession that divides her from her sisters, her father and even her dearest friend. What price are they willing to pay to stay together?
A REVIEW OF FREDA WARRINGTON'S A TASTE OF BLOOD WINE
Freda Warrington's A Taste of Blood Wine is an excellent vampire novel. It's one of the finest vampire novels ever written. It's a modern and undisputable classic of vampire fiction.
Before I write more about this novel, I'll mention briefly that it's great that Titan Books has republished Freda Warrington's A Taste of Blood Wine, because it has been out-of-print for a long time. Titan Books will also republish the other Blood Wine novels (A Dance in Blood Velvet and The Dark Blood of Poppies) and next year they'll publish a new Blood Wine novel (The Dark Arts of Blood).
It's possible to say that A Taste of Blood Wine is almost like a combination of Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire and British quality drama series about life in the early 20th century (Brideshead Revisited etc), but this isn't a totally accurate description of the contents of this novel. It just gives you an idea what to expect from this novel. If you enjoy reading about vampires and life in the early 20th century, you're in for a real treat when you begin to read this novel.
Here's a bit of information about the story:
- The story begins on the battlefield. Karl moves around the battlefield and meets his maker, Kristian. Kristian wants Karl to return to him, but Karl doesn't want to come back. Karl defies Kristian and says that he feels nothing for him. Kristian gives Karl a chance to return to him of his own free will, but threatens to hurt those that Karl loves and leaves him alone on the battlefield.
- Karl travels to England and meets the Neville family and becomes fascinated by them. He wants to learn things from them. Dr. Neville invites Karl to join his research team.
- Charlotte, Dr. Neville's daugter, is a shy young woman who has spent her whole life avoiding attention and parties. Charlotte's life begins to change, when she meets Karl. Charlotte and Karl meet each other often and they become obsessed with each other...
That's all I'll write about the story, because I want to avoid writing too many spoilers. It wouldn't be fair to reveal everything, because the author has several surprises in store for her readers.
The characterization in this novel is excellent, because the author writes vividly about the characters. She reveals new things about the characters and their lives in an intriguing way as the story unfolds. She uses the characters to explore feelings of passion, guilt, fear and betrayal.
Here's information about some of the characters:
- Karl is a charismatic vampire who doesn't believe in God. He's an especially interesting character, because he's both caring and dangerous. He acts in his own way and takes people into consideration. I enjoyed reading about him and his past. It was fascinating to read how he became a vampire and what it did to him. Karl wants to be free of Kristian.
- Kristian is Karl's maker. He's a domineering and arrogant vampire who believes in God. He wants to control all the vampires that he has created. He doesn't like science, because it offends his religious beliefs.
- Charlotte is a shy and reserved young woman who isn't interested in social life. She doesn't want to be the centre of the attention. She only wants to help her father, Dr. Neville, with his academic research. Slowly, her life begins to change as she realizes that she has feelings for Karl.
- Fleur and Madeleine are Charlotte's sisters. They're free spirited and strong women. They're total opposites of Charlotte and aren't afraid of parties and social gatherings.
- David is Charlotte's brother and will soon be married to Anne, who's Charlotte's best friend. He was in the war and saw terrible things.
- Anne is Charlotte's best friend. Anne supports Charlotte in several ways and gives her advice. She loves David and expects him to treat her equally.
- Edward, who is David's friend, is an interesting character, because he's sensitive to certain things and can sense certain things. He has problems with his nerves, because he was in the war.
I enjoyed reading about Charlotte's slow transformation. At first she was shy, insecure and a bit unhappy. She wasn't actually in control of her own life, because her sisters and aunt had a huge influence on her. The author writes wonderfully about how Charlotte's life begins to change as she falls in love with Karl and begins to think about her life and feelings. It was great to read about how Charlotte had to deal with the problems that her love towards Karl caused her and her family.
Freda Warrington writes fantastically about the relationship between Charlotte and Kristian, and keeps things interesting by gradually deepening their relationship. Their relationship isn't an easy relationship, because Kristian's fellow vampires and Charlotte's relatives cause them problems. What makes this relationship especially difficult is that Karl is a vampire and he has to control his natural urges when he is with Charlotte. He also fears that he may cause harm to the Neville family by being near them.
It was amazing how easily the author created an erotic and seductive atmosphere and wrote about Karl and Charlotte's feelings towards each other. It was easy to believe that they truly cared for each other and wanted to be together. This seductive and erotic atmosphere reminded me a lot of the atmosphere in Anne Rice's vampire novels.
What makes this novel especially interesting is the fact Freda Warrington explores immortality, vampire life and religious beliefs within the context of romantic horror and dark fantasy. In my opinion the author writes fluently about immortality and religion - she isn't afraid of exploring what immortality and religion mean to vampires and how they feel about these things.
Freda Warrington uses the characters of Karl and Kristian to explore themes of domination, obsession and freedom. The relationship between Karl and Kristian is extremely difficult, because they're totally different kind of vampires and have different values. The conversations between Karl and Kristian are fascinating, because Karl doesn't believe in God, but Kristian does and thinks of himself as the right hand of God. They have fights and disagreements about religion and how they should their lives. Their fights always end in Karl leaving Kristian and Kristian doesn't like it, but hopes that Karl will someday come back to him of his own free will. Kristian can be seen as the lord of the vampires, because he's a powerful vampire. He is obsessed with controlling his vampires and wants them to adore and love him. If the vampire don't obey him, he punishes them cruelly and brutally.
The conversations between Karl and Kristian aren't the only interesting conversations in this novel. There are also a few other conversations that are intriguing and enjoyable. I found it interesting that Karl and Dr. Neville discussed about science and religion.
Combining social life, romance and vampire lore is difficult, but Freda Warrington has managed to do it perfectly. It's great that she paints a vivid and believable picture of England in the early 20th century. She shows to her readers how important parties, birthdays and social status were for people during that time and what kind of obligations people had.
Freda Warrington's rich prose highlights the happenings and makes the readers immerse themselves in the story. The beautiful prose flows effortlessly and beautifully as the story unfolds and several things are revealed to readers. The author's descriptions of the places, characters and happenings are excellent, and the romantic scenes are exquisitely passionate and full of erotic power.
There's wonderful originality in this novel. The vampires are capable of walking in daylight, because sunlight doesn't harm them. They can also touch crosses and visit churches etc, and they can take energy from people and drain them of their life force. It was great that turning a person to a vampire wasn't as easy as in several other novels, because more than biting was needed to transform a person into a vampire.
The Crystal Ring is an interesting and truly original invention. Only vampires are capable of accessing this dimension and they use it often to move from one place to another. Although vampires use The Crystal Ring, it can be a dangerous place for them if they stay there for too long. Reading about the Crystal Ring and the Weisskalt was interesting (I'm not going to reveal what Weisskalt is, but I'll mention that it's a place inside the Crystal Ring).
Although there's originality in this novel, good old-fashioned vampire elements are also an important part of the story. For example, the vampires need blood to survive and they can influence people with their supernatural presence (people are easily fascinated by vampires, because they think that they're beautiful and intriguing).
There may be readers out there who are interested in knowing if A Taste of Blood Wine is dark fantasy or horror, so here's information about the categorization. In my opinion A Taste of Blood Wine lies somewhere between horror and dark fantasy, because it contains elements of both genres. This novel also contains plenty of romantic elements, but it isn't paranormal romance. I think that several readers may try to categorize this novel as paranormal romance because of the romance between Charlotte and Karl, but they shouldn't do so, because this novel is a combination of dark fantasy and horror elements.
I think that A Taste of Blood Wine has been an important role model for modern vampire novels, urban fantasy novels and also for paranormal romance novels. Although this novel can be been as a role model for modern paranormal romance novels, it's in a league of its own when compared to the quality of them. A Taste of Blood Wine is totally different from paranormal romance novels, because it's a quality novel with romantic scenes and the author never lets the story sink to the low quality level of paranormal romance novels.
I enjoyed reading A Taste of Blood Wine, because it was a good and well written vampire novel. When I started to read it the story hooked me immediately and I read it as fast as I could. I'm looking forward to reading the sequels, because it'll be interesting to find out what happens in them. (I also intend to read the author's other novels.)
I can highly recommend A Taste of Blood Wine to everybody who loves vampire novels and stories, because Freda Warrington is a gifted storyteller and writes good prose. I'm sure that this novel will also appeal to readers of paranormal romance, because the author has a lush and romantic writing style that resonates with readers who are interested in romantic stories.
If you're interested in vampire novels and want to read quality, please do yourself a favour and read A Taste of Blood Wine. It'll remind you of how good, thrilling and romantic vampire novels can be. It has everything you could ever hope for from an entertaining vampire novel: horror, suspense, romance, passion, plot twists, supernatural elements and captivating storytelling. A Taste of Blood Wine is a novel that will appeal to all readers who love vampire fiction.