It felt wrong to write a review of Damned since I know both authors so well and I am closely connected to the series. So, instead I decided to write a rumination on the Crusade series since there are a few things about the series that have always struck me as significant within the fantasy genre, but haven’t really generated much discussion. Therefore, since the Damned Book Tour is stopping at Underwords today, I’m going to talk about aspects of the Crusade series that I find most compelling but haven’t really generated much discussion…until now.
Damned (which released on August 30th) is the second book in the Crusade series by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguié, which features a group of vampire hunters who have come together to save the world from the insidious vampire horde that has taken over.
When I first read Crusade, the series struck me as being a unique story packed full of familiar fantasy elements. It is reminiscent of an old school epic fantasy trilogy with its band of misfit characters who have join together from different races, who each have a unique talent to lend to the group, and who are willing to fight for a hopeless cause in order to stop an impossibly powerful force from destroying the world. In true epic fantasy style, both Damned and Crusade are told using multiple points of view, and they send the team of hunters out on missions, forcing them to travel vast distances to foreign lands in their quest to conquer the invading vampires. However, the series doesn’t take place in a mystical world with a rural setting or historical feeling societies that are noticeably absent of modern science. Instead we get contemporary characters, modern technology, and familiar cities from our own world as well as a host of supernatural beings. These are definitely elements that do not belong in an epic fantasy, but would be right at home within the urban fantasy genre.
The result of this mixing and blending of urban and epic fantasy elements is the creation of a hybrid genre: Urban Epic Fantasy. While there are quite a few urban fantasy series like the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, the Dark Fever series by Karen Marie Moning, and the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris (all of which I love), they don’t have the same epic scope as Crusade in that they are either serialized novels or they take place in primarily one geographic region. Other than the Crusade series, there really aren’t many urban fantasies that also fit so well within the parameters of an epic fantasy.
Even better, Holder and Vigué avoid the trap of writing a paranormal romance that binds two characters, one human and one supernatural, into a romantic relationship that defies reason. In Crusade and Damned, Jenn and Antonio are the paranormal romantic couple who are desperately trying to keep their relationship going, but they have known each other for two years. They have fought together, dined together, and trained together before beginning their romantic relationship. They have a history together. As expected, they hit the inevitable vampire/human bumps in the road that constantly require them to fight to stay together, which is much more realistic than I had expected. Moreover, you get the very real sense that there is no guarantee that their love will overcome all. The dangers they face emotionally are as real as the dangers they face physically in battle.
There’s really nothing out there that I can compare to the Crusade series other than itself. It feels a bit like Joss Whedon’s Buffy with a dash of Anne Rice’s eye for history and elegance, a pinch of George R.R. Martin’s epic storytelling style, and a smattering of Bram Stoker’s and Stephen King’s big bad vampires mixed in with the relentlessness of the Terminator, the magic of Charmed, and hormones from Sex in the City. If this series were a film, it would be the perfect date movie because you get such a great mixture of exciting elements that gives everyone something to enjoy. Action. Romance. Fantasy. Reality. Holder and Vigué tease all of these threads into the story, giving it a wonderfully dynamic scope without sacrificing the narrative with cheap magic tricks and sex to keep readers interested.
The characters all feel like real people with pasts, desires, and needs that compel them to make choices that may not always be wise, but are always understandable. The use of multiple points of view may be a little confusing at first, especially for people who are unfamiliar with the epic fantasy genre. However, by telling this story through multiple points of view, Holder and Vigué allow readers to get to know each character from the inside out as you see them operate from their own perspective as well as through the perspectives of others. For example, you see how painfully scared Jenn is and how questionable her choices are when viewed through Jamie’s eyes, but you also understand why she won’t just surrender to her circumstances when the story is being told from her perspective. As with most epic fantasy series, you get a very three dimensional story that takes you behind the scenes and also places you on the front lines of the action from the perspective of the humans as well as the vampires.
I highly recommend both Damned and Crusade to anyone (guys or girls) who loves reading epic fantasy, urban fantasy, horror, or paranormal romance. Just be warned that you’re going to get real relationships, friendships, and fights–flaws and all. You’re going to get adventure on a grand scale with a plot that reads like World War III. Romance, drama, and mystery – the Crusade series is wonderful fun and embraces its nature at an urban epic fantasy.
From start to finish both Crusade and Damned will have you wondering “what happens next?!!” For me, the Crusade series combines everything that I love best into one exciting series that I don’t want to put down. I hope to see more series like this.
The Crusade Series:
- Passing – the short story that inspired the series
- Crusade (Book 1)
- Damned (Book 2) – available in stores and online as of August 30, 2011
Nancy Holder is a multiple Bram Stoker Award-winner as well as a New York Times bestselling author (the Wicked series), who, with her coauthor, Debbie Viguié, has sold two more young adult series, Crusade and Wolf Springs Chronicles. She and Erin Underwood write a column together for the Science Fiction Writers of America Bulletin. She lives in San Diego with her daughter, Belle, two corgis, and three cats. You can visit Nancy online at www.nancyholder.com
In addition to writing with Nancy, Debbie Viguié also writes the Psalm 23 Mysteries series and has several retold fairy tales, including Midnight Pearls. She and her husband, Scott, have a cat named Schrödinger. Visit Debbie online at www.debbieviguie.com.
Damned Contest & Giveaway!!!
Oh, yes, I have the keys to the goody box, and there will be prizes!
Leave a comment below by midnight on Sept 5th, and you’ll be entered into a random drawing for one of three prizes: 1) a signed nameplate, 2) a signed Damned Tour Poster, and 3) a Crusade wristband. Each comment equals one contest entry. Open to U.S. and Canadian residents only.
If you’re under 14, please get your parent’s permission to enter.