Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Field of Blood by Eric Wilson

Main character: Gina Lazarescu
Location: Various places, mostly Romania and the southern United States
Time period: Late 1990's
Genre: Christian fiction, supernatural, vampires
Series: Jerusalem's Undead Trilogy #1

I received this book as part of a program being run by Thomas Nelson publishers. Bloggers who register with them can get a free book as long as they agree to blog about it. I thought it would be a good challenge for me to write up a book that I might not otherwise pick up to read, and this is the first one I chose. Let me say that I have not read a lot of Christian fiction--when I look for an adult book, I generally head for the mystery section--so the thought of a Christian vampire book was too intriguing to pass up.

An archaeological dig in Jerusalem disturbs an anicent burial place, allowing a group of demons to inhabit and regenerate the bodies inside. These demons are called Collectors; at one point they refer to the time that the Nazarene (they never refer to Christ by name) expelled them from a man and sent them into pigs which were then drowned, apparently referring to the incident related in Mark 5:09-13. Since then they have been trapped in an incorporeal existence and are rather out of touch with the rest of their kind. (Other demons have survived and since moved to Romania, giving rise to the legend of the vampire.) Demons are able to inhabit and possess any living being--human, animal, or insect--but these particular demons, led by Lord Ariston, are the first to be able to revive the dead.

Meanwhile, a young girl named Gina has been raised by her mother in a very remote part of Romania. Gina's mother, Nikki, is ruled by superstitions and Gina is longing to escape her tight reins and to be seen as an independent young woman, not as a little girl. Then one day a man arrives, a man her mother obviously knows, tells them they are in danger and takes them away. They escape to America, change their names and start their new lives. What Gina does not know, what her mother does not want to tell her, is that Gina is an immortal, the daughter of one of the Nistarim, and as such will always be a target of the Collectors.

The events in the book span great distances in time and space, and it is not always clear when the setting jumps. For example, Gina is hit by a truck; she should have been killed but walks away with barely a scratch. Shortly afterwards, her mother refers to the accident as having been two years ago--but there was little indication that that much time had elapsed; I thought it had been a few weeks at most. I found the references to the Nistarim confusing--I am not familiar with the Talmudic tradition of the Nistarim and had to look it up. I am still not clear on how Gina can be the child of a Nistarim but not a Nistarim herself but her child could be one. When it seems as if Dov, a young orphan boy that Gina takes under her wing, is a Nistarim, it is unclear whether he has always been one from birth or has become one. A framing device, of a person reading a letter marked with four drops of blood, and seeing the memories of different characters through these drops of blood, also raises more questions than it answers, but will most likely be addressed in the future books.

On the other hand, I really liked the image of a Collector's bite creating a thorny vine which grows within the victim and the blood that collects in the thorns being a purer form of blood which they find more nourishing. I also liked that the demons find a single, sometimes petty, vice to exploit in their victims, creating a sense of discontent. (It reminded me of C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters, or Peter Cook's devil in the 1967 movie Bedazzled: in both those cases, the devil's most effective work was not the great disasters but the little daily annoyances.) Even Dahlia's self-righteousness was shown as a vanity which could be exploited.

I'm not going to waiting expectantly for the next book in the trilogy, but I will read it to find out what happens next.


Eric Wilson said...

Thanks for the honest review. Just to explain, the Nistarim in Jewish culture can only be male. I hope that answers the question. And the two year span Gina's mom had nothing to do with the truck collision.

I do appreciate you taking the time to read the book. And I'm almost done with the sequel, Haunt of Jackals. It's a little easier to follow, since the major world building was done in book one.

smaileh said...

Thanks for your comment, and the explanation about the Nistarim. I did get the feeling that the first book had to lay a lot of ground work that will be fulfilled in the future novels. I'll keep my eye out for your next book.