three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
48-Sept-Oct-2010
user_rating: 
0

A-Blood OathChristopher Farnsworth, who is also a screenwriter, began this novel during the 2008 Hollywood writers’ strike. It is his first book.

The Story: Is it any surprise that among the various shady characters recruited by the CIA and other agencies over the years one might find a vampire? Certainly not--in today’s publishing world. Nathaniel Cade, Secret Service agent, has previously been pardoned for his supernatural crimes by President Andrew Johnson. This patriotic creature of the night is sworn by--you guessed it--a blood oath to forever protect the American commanders in chief and generally defend the United States from supernatural dangers ordinary humans can’t handle. Whether they’re the very real threats behind 1950s horror movies or zombies under the control of Al-Qaeda-like Jihadists, Cade is on the case.
Putnam. 400 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 9780399156359

Seattle Post-Intelligencer 4 of 5 Stars
"As vampire novels go, this book was impossible to put down, and I devoured it in a weekend. ... And it is one heck of a crazy ride--but one I’d be willing to go on again." Fitz

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"Christopher Farnsworth’s taut thriller Blood Oath ... is an irresistible page-turner that makes one realize that, no matter how tough the War on Terror may be, at least it’s not the War on Horror. ... Cade is a wonderfully idiosyncratic character: a Christian renegade from the Vampire Nation who attends AA meetings to help him resist the lure of human blood." Elizabeth Hand

Chicago Sun-Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Horror buffs will smile at government briefings that suggest Night of the Living Dead, Friday the 13th and I Was a Teenage Frankenstein were based on actual events. But if Farnsworth’s frequent use of cliched action movie dialogue ... is supposed to be ironic, it backfires." Jeffrey Westhoff

San Francisco Chronicle 3.5 of 5 Stars
"There’s an appropriate amount of undead angst, as Cade struggles against his feral nature and matches wits with others of his supernatural ilk, but Farnsworth keeps the narrative pace revved high and the wisecracks snapping. Blood Oath isn’t profound, by any means, but it’s an enjoyable summertime adventure, a creditable inaugural outing for a new action series." Michael Berry

SFFworld.com 3.5 of 5 Stars
"[W]hat the book lacks in originality ... it gains in pace and style. ... To my mind, it’s a darn sight better than any other contemporary thriller that you might find on the airport shelves, or dare I say it, any vampire romance you might care to suggest. Dracula meets The West Wing (or even 24)--what is there not to like?" Mark Yon

Critical Summary

Since the undead seem to be turning up in every conceivable medium (TV, books, film) and genre (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, anyone?), critics were not exactly surprised to see a novel about "the President’s vampire." But overall they felt that Farnsworth handles his material with flair. A common compliment and complaint was that the book reads like a screenplay, which is no surprise, given Farnsworth’s background. But even those critics who griped about the occasional movie cliché found Blood Oath entertaining fun. But if you’re not a fan of the vampire novels recently populating the shelves, well, here’s another to move past.