Book Review: Red, White, and Blood by Christopher Farnsworth

How do you feel about the Boogie Man? No, we’re not talking about someone “shaking their groove thing” and we’re not talking about something you might get on your finger after some proboscoid exploration. We’re talking about the actual Boogie Man (or bogeyman or boogeyman or boogieman) – the original monster under the bed.

At my house, the Boogie Man received such attention by my youngest child that we had to invent a “Monster Alarm” (like a burglar alarm) that we would “arm” when we went to bed so no monsters could get her in the middle of the night. And during my own childhood I can remember a morbid fascination with monsters in the dark that has survived to the present day.

Perhaps that’s why I’ve really enjoyed Christopher Farnsworth‘s series about a vampire working for the President of the United States. With The President’s Vampire and Blood Oath Farnsworth introduced Nathaniel Cade, a vampire who was pardoned by President Andrew Johnson after a brutal set of murders on a whaling ship. He was then bound by Voodoo by a blood oath to serve and protect the President of the United States. Cade is a monster, but he protects the interests of the Presidents from the other monsters who also live there. Monsters of both literary and mythological origins.

The fact that Farnsworth has now brought Cade face to face with the Boogie Man is twisted enough to be genius. But that he can combine the Boogie Man with a political battle for the White House rife with commentary about the current political climate in the US makes it that much better. The first book grabbed my attention a few years ago, but the second one, though I enjoyed it, didn’t grab me as much. And Red, White, and Blood is now my favorite in the series.

When you consider all the foes Cade has faced in the first two books, from vampires and a real-life Dr. Frankenstein to the more mundane enemies, it’s amazing to think that he’s faced the Boogie Man before. He’s had other names, of course… The Zodiac Killer. BTK. The Ax Man of New Orleans. But as many times as Cade has faced and beaten him, he keeps coming back.

Now the Boogie Man is back and determined to end Cade once and for all. But more than that, he’s working with someone else this time. Helen Holt. A woman who has somehow stayed alive despite Cade’s efforts. A woman who wants Cade gone, but also wants to see power shift and new blood in the White House.

Can Cade defeat the Boogie Man once and for all? You’ll have to read Red, White, and Blood to find out.

For more about Nathaniel Cade and author Christopher Farnsworth, be sure to check out his website and follow him on Twitter!

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

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Book Review: The President’s Vampire by Chrisopher Farnsworth

Hi again!

Have you ever wondered what’s at the root of some of those bizarre myths and legends you’ve read about in school or in popular fiction? It sometimes seems as though there may have been supernatural creatures and strange events down through the ages. But all those gods, monsters, ghosts and aliens are just stories, right?

But then again, what if they’re not? That brings into question everything we know as adults and doubts begin creeping in where they’re really not wanted. Paranoia sets in and soon we’re looking deeper into shadows to make sure there’s nothing there and the boogie men aren’t coming to get us.

In Blood Oath, Christopher Farnsworth introduced us to Nathaniel Cade. For more than 140 years, he’s been attached to the office of the President of the United States, protecting the nation against supernatural threats other agencies can’t hope to deal with. What makes Cade perfect for the job beyond his longevity? Well, he’s a vampire for one. And two, he swore a blood oath to the office of the President at the hands of a Voodoo priestess. He is compelled to fulfill his oath through thick and thin unless released by his death or the United States no longer exists.

We were introduced to Cade through his new handler Zach Burrows in the first book. Poor Zach was put through the wringer a few times, but managed to always creatively come through in the end. Either that or Cade has to save his bacon.

I loved Blood Oath – it presented a vampire story with deep roots in U.S. history and a style that was more 24 than Twilight. Beneath the surface of the world we live in is another world teeming with people, monsters, and worse – seeking to destroy us, eat us, or make us slaves. And personally I’m not too keen on any of those options.

Now Farnsworth is back with another tale of Nathaniel Cade saving the world in The President’s Vampire. And once again we catch glimpses of that secret supernatural history of the world behind the scenes. This time there’s some politics involved and shadow agencies devoted to reforming mankind for their own nefarious purposes. Can Cade stop them? Only time will tell. And of course, it’s not just humans causing trouble. There are monsters involved as well, but I’ll try not to spoil the fun too much.

I do have to provide a bit of a hint to a few people. Does the name “Innsmouth” mean anything to you? I thought it might.

Beyond the creatures in the book, I will say Farnsworth has also managed to slip in some great historical tidbits. Some related to 9/11, some earlier, like John Wilkes Booth, but each time one of these juicy tidbits from history came up, I nearly giggled out loud with glee. There’s just something more tangible about Cade simply because he’s walked the halls of a century and a half of history and survived.

My one criticism of the book is the opening. The first couple of chapters left me feeling a bit perplexed, wondering if Farnsworth had lost his touch. However, once things get rolling, there’s no stopping them. The President’s Vampire starts with a few tentative nibbles and then sinks its teeth into your jugular vein until it’s done. This was another book I could hardly bear to put down until I was done.

I can only wonder what’s next for Cade and Burrows. Can they continue to survive the battle between politics and the dark malevolent forces threatening the United States every moment? Only time will tell. But something tells me Cade will find a way to survive anything short of a nuclear bomb going off in his face.

If you like your thrillers with a bit of bite, look no further than The President’s Vampire that was just released this week. And if you haven’t read Blood Oath already, I’d encourage you to do so. These two books together will make a powerful one-two punch!

For more information about Christopher Farnsworth and his books, be sure to check out his website at ChrisFarnsworth.com. The partial chronology of events in Nathaniel Cade’s world is definitely worth checking out!

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up these books below!

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[Book Review] Christopher Farnsworth’s Blood Oath

Hi again…

In 1867, some believe that Andrew Johnson – a president whose term was rife with controversy – pardoned someone accused of vampirism. This bizarre piece of history inspired author Christopher Farnworth to write a story about that accused vampire, which developed into Blood Oath. I was sucked into this story and it didn’t let me go – I devoured the whole thing in a weekend.

Consider this tiny, obscure fact as a “What If”… What if there was a vampire working for the President of the United States behind the scenes, handling supernatural threats that the regular police, military, and intelligence forces of the United States could not handle themselves? Now consider 140 years of such threats against the United States and the many wars and enemies we have faced in that time… Look back through the years… We currently have the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Before that was the First Gulf War, the Cold War, Vietnam, Korea, World War II, World War I, the Spanish-American War… And the countless insurgencies, enemies, and tyrants here and there around the world doing evil in the name of whatever ideology they follow.

If a vampire exists, then what other mad scientists, monsters, or creations may be roaming the world as well? Imagine if the Nazis had developed super soldiers or harnessed the artifacts collected for Hitler’s fascination with the supernatural? Consider a world filled with nasty creatures in the dark corners we don’t shine light on because we don’t want to see what’s there…

Now give our vampire hero the strength, brains, and determination of Jack Bauer along with the technology and intelligence-gathering abilities of the United States government. He’d be one heck of a force to be reckoned with. Do you think he’d develop an ego over that century and a half?

But our intrepid author doesn’t stop there. To spice things up, he adds a new liason to the Oval Office into the mix – Zach Barrows, a young, politically-savvy, hot-headed and impetuous individual. After a poor choice in lovers (dating the President’s daughter doesn’t help your career much), Zach finds himself in a world he didn’t know existed and doesn’t want to be in – especially since he’s paired up with Nathaniel Cade, the vampire sworn to protect the President of the United States for the last 140 years.

Through Barrows’ eyes, Farnsworth takes us down the rabbit hole into Cade’s world as he and Zach try to stop a madman from unleashing a biological weapon in the US. And it is one heck of a crazy ride – but one I’d be willing to go on again. His style reads fast and the world he’s describing sucked me in faster than you could say “vampire.” The text on the back cover alone got my attention, but once I started reading I couldn’t stop.

My only knock on the book (and it’s a very small knock) is the similarity to the Hellboy comic and movie series – a young outsider thrust into a world of dark, supernatural secrets and horrors under the tutelage of a more experienced individual or team. But the apprentice/master approach to storytelling has been around as long as people have been telling stories and the backstory and action of Farnsworth’s world is far too entertaining to let a little Hellboy spoil the mood.

I want to know more about this world of Nathaniel Cade and learn about some of the things we didn’t know were going on in this alternate world where horrors are real and we’re not at the top of the food chain! Be sure to pick up your copy of Christopher Farnsworth’s Blood Oath and get sucked into the tales of the President’s vampire! Let’s hope Nathaniel Cade can keep us safe until Farnsworth reveals what’s next for our undead hero.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up this book and other great urban fantasies with vampires at Barnes & Noble!

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