The Cross by Scott G. Mariani
Please note The Cross is a direct sequel to Uprising and this review may contain minor spoilers for those of you who have not read book one. Consider yourself warned and read on at your own peril.
An Ancient Evil Rises Again…
The cross of Ardaich, feared by vampires, was believed to have been destroyed during the bloody war between the Vampire Federation and the Trads. But its accidental rediscovery could be catastrophic.
Detective Joel Solomon can’t forgive VF agent Alex Bishop for making him a vampire. Yet when the Federation arch enemy Gabriel Stone enlists a vicious killer to retrieve the cross, the couple and their human allies become the only defence against pure evil.
If the cross is used to gain power by the Ubervampyr, the sadistic and primeval race of the undead, it isn’t just ordinary vampires like Alex and Joel who will be in danger. Things could be about to turn very nasty for the human race…
The Cross picks up immediately after the events at the end of it predecessor, Uprising. The reader is immediately thrust into the fallout of the previous novels conclusion. Each of the sides in the conflict has retreated to their respective corners and are licking their wounds.
The action remains just as bonkers as it was in the first novel. There are various sword fights, explosions, massacres and even a Mexican stand-off involving a cable car. I was particularly pleased when I realised that no character is safe, everyone is fair game. Mariani obviously delights in throwing the odd curveball at his readers.
Meanwhile Joel Solomon is coming to terms with the prospect of existing as a vampire. His relationship with Alex has been strained to breaking point, and it is interesting to watch his internal struggle as he accepts his new life. Dec Maddon also returns as the world’s least well equipped, but most enthusiastic, vampire hunter. His journey offers some nice light relief to all the hacking and slashing going on around him. Dec isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but he is great character.
There are a couple of new characters introduced to help expand the VF universe. Without a shadow of a doubt, a psychotic mad man called Ash is my clear favourite. He is an insane human who believes he is already a vampire. His actions are violently destructive, and when he does finally meet some genuine vamps, you just know that there will be blood. His unpredictable nature, in tandem with his brutal savagery, makes all the scenes Ash appears in some of the best in the novel.
It is becoming increasingly obvious as the story develops that the VF are just as corrupt and twisted as the Traditional vampires. Although it is only referenced a couple of times during the narrative, I really hope this is explored in the future. Humanity is stuck in the middle, sandwiched between two rivals that are just as bad as one another.
If Uprising is a referential nod to Blade, then The Cross is a vigorous shake of the head at Blade 2. Mismatched enemies are forced by circumstance to become allies and the Ubervampyrs will certainly put any reader in mind of the Reapers from said film. The bad news is that although they are a great deal of fun, the Ubervampyrs don’t get to make a huge appearance in this book. There are glimpses of their hidden Siberian society but not much more than that. The good news, however, is that based on the revelations that occur toward the novel’s end, there is certainly enough loose ends to merit another book in this series and I’m sure the Ubervampyrs will be back.
The Vampire Federation novels are unashamedly tongue in cheek. It may not be the most original story in the world, but there is no heavy handed pretentiousness. This is just out and out fun. If you are looking for fast paced, old school vampire action you could do a lot worse than Uprising and then The Cross.