The Bad Death, part of Naima Haviland’s vampire trilogy, tantalises the reader with a spellbinding paranormal tale of romance, horror and suspense. The author skillfully weaves the vampire myth with African Gullah legends to create a dark and gripping narrative, which, when read in conjunction with the accompanying novel Bloodroom, will forever haunt your dreams.
In The Bad Death, set in South Carolina in 1788, a mysterious African beauty emerges from the family crypt of Julian Mouret, the owner of Lion’s Court plantation. This woman enthralls this handsome slave owner with an outlandish tale of peril and flight. Although Julian fears for her sanity, he determines to keep Anika (or Annie as she is known) safe as a series of horrifying mutilation murders ensues, indicating to the slaves the presence of “plat-eyes”—shape-shifting blood-sucking supernatural creatures. Anika becomes empowered to end the rampage, but at stake is not only her own life but the soul of the man she is coming to love.
The Bad Death does contain a Bloodroom spoiler, so if you intend to read it you may first want to read Bloodroom, to which this book serves as both a prequel and a sequel. Scroll to the end of this review for a link to our Bloodroom review. Naima Haviland is also kindly offering one lucky reader of our blog a digital copy of both Bloodroom and A Bad Death. Scroll down for details of this giveaway, where all you need to do is comment with your name.
I absolutely adore this series! I fell in love with Julian in Bloodroom, being both repelled and attracted to him – I cannot get him out of my head. The Bad Death gives the reader an insight into his actions in Bloodroom, where as a creature of the dark he maintains a thread of humanity. In The Bad Death Julian values rationality over superstition, yet Anika and the events which occur are anything but rational. He refuses to acknowledge the existence of beings which science does not recognise. Julian cannot explain the sexual pull and connection he feels to Anika, whom readers of Bloodroom immediately recognise is possessed by the spirit of Natalie his human lover in that book. Although compelled to keep Anika close, he is also repelled by her as he believes that she is a liar and a trickster at worse and at best mad. What will be Julian’s downfall? – Madness if he realises that such evil actually exists or ignorance as he does not realise the true horror of what he and others face?
Anika is a fantastic kick-ass heroine, protecting those she cares about in any way she can. Although this book is very much focused on Anika, Natalie’s influence is pivotal, as through her possession she imparts her ballet dancer’s strength and flexibility on Anika and also her knowledge of how to defeat vampires. Natalie’s spirit (whom Anika refers to as ‘the Hag’) also gives Anika an insight into Natalie and Julian’s dark romance. Anika regards her possession more favourably as the novel progresses and becomes increasingly attracted to Julian. She is torn between her attraction to Julian and to Marcus, the Mouret’s slave driver, himself a slave. Bitter rivalry and jealousy exist between both men over Anika and there is also plenty of sexual tension and well crafted sensual love making scenes throughout.
There are a host of supporting characters. These include Tumba, the resident witch doctor, a free black man, whose role appears to be a malevolent one. We also meet the teenage Jane Eliza, whom readers of Bloodroom will recognise as Swisher, who plays such a key role in that book. Julian’s mother, Miss Elizabeth, is a character whom I loved, as she is brave and resourceful and whilst not fully comprehending the true evil around her is supportive of Anika.
The novel contains horror and violence and visceral scenes of bloodlust and gore juxtaposed with passionate lovemaking and lush descriptions of the landscape. I was particularly impressed by the dark, gothic descriptions of the waterways, which link Lion’s Court to adjacent plantations, the descriptions of these and the rice fields and the overarching sky became more and more threatening as the novel progresses. I also enjoyed the magical scenes where Natalie takes possession of Anika and compels her to dance the ballet and imbues her with visions and feelings from the future. The author has carried out a lot of research into the history of slaves and plantation owners, the Gullah language, folklore and culture and the environment of South Carolina in the late eighteenth century. I was held spellbound and totally immersed in the world and minds of the characters.
The Bad Death is an original and haunting tale. Don’t take my word for it – check out the author’s web and blog sites to read her excerpts and to gain an insight into the characters and the world that she has created. I am certainly looking forward to book 3 of the trilogy, due for release next year.
Reviewed by Tina Williams
A copy of this book was given to me by the author for an honest and fair review.
For my review of Bloodroom click here