Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Review: Death Masque (Jonathan Barret #3)

With the Revolutionary War itself felt in his Long Island home, Jonathan Barret and his sister Elizabeth seek refuge on the distant shore of England. However, Jonathan has yet another reason to make the voyage: he is still searching for Nora, his lost love and the woman responsible for his recently discovered taste for blood.

That search takes Jonathan back to the home of his mother's sister, where he discover a plot against his family that puts him in danger from the most unlikely of suspects. But his new enemies will soon realize that is is very difficult to kill a Barrett -- particularly one that is already dead...

Death Masque, by P.N. Elrod, is the third book in the Jonathan Barrett Gentleman Vampire series. His family lives on Long Island during the American Revolutionary War (late 18th century). While the war has subsided, there is a lot of uneasiness and uncertainty about the future of the colonies. The Barrett family are loyal Tory supporters.

It is the year 1777. Jonathan has not heard from his beloved Nora Jones ever since he completed his legal education at Cambridge and returned to America. His desire to see her increases as the months progress. He decides to travel to London to meet his cousin, Oliver, and to search for her whereabouts. His sister, Elizabeth, and his servant, Jericho, also accompany him on the voyage. Unfortunately, his vampire change cannot endure sailing over water, and he remains comatose on the entire voyage! (You can imagine how much this scared Elizabeth and Jericho who had no idea if he would ever return to consciousness.)

Once they arrived in England, Jonathan awakes to their relief. Oliver, Jonathan and Elizabeth attend a masquerade ball at the Fonteyn House where they meet their wicked aunt, who is also the will-holder of the family. Jonathan becomes so disenchanted by her awful presence and insane criticism that he uses his powers to hypnotize and silence her.

At the estate, he also meets Lady Clarinda and her husband Edmond Fonteyn. She carries a mystifying and sexual aura that excites and scares him. Before he can continue his search for the woman who made him a vampire, a group of brawny men intimidate him to accept a duel with swords. They don't realize that Barrett has supernatural strength and abilities.

He survives the duel, but later finds out someone has murdered his Aunt Fonteyn. He did not like her, but she did not deserve death in such a cruel manner. Worse, someone in his bizarre family still wants him dead! Who can it be, and for what reason? Despite the betrayal and danger ahead, it is very hard to kill a Barrett when he is already dead.
P.N. Elrod is one of my favorite vampire-mystery writers. I continue to read the Vampire Files series and the Jonathan Barrett series. Her humor, suspense and strong detail for historical accuracy (both series take place in the 1930s and 1770s, respectively) continue to amaze me. Nora is a vampire who turned Jonathan into a creature of the night. He travels to London to gather more information about her whereabouts. He finds the last place she lived in an abandoned home with her home earth. This made him somewhat optimistic.

Unfortunately, he does not find her in this novel. Instead, he faces threats and escapes his own death from his family! The ending has a major surprise that even shocks Barrett. The next novel will explore this new responsibility bestowed upon him as he continues his search for Nora with Elizabeth, Oliver and Jericho.

At 285 pages, this novel does not take long to read. The plot really surprised me when Barrett discovers who wants him dead. Readers also discover why his stern mother and aunt act the way they do. It may take a new reader a longer time to understand the historical English the author uses to make the setting and character development more accurate. I highly recommend this series.

Stay tuned for the final novel in the Jonathan Barrett Gentleman Vampire series, Dance of Death.

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