Title: Blood & Ice
Author: Robert Masello
PublicationDate: July 2010
Paperback: 495 pages
Genre: Horror, Vampires
Source: Own Copy
Reviewed by: Carolyn
RATING: 6/10 – good
When journalist Michael Wilde is commissioned to wrote a feature about a remote research station deep in the frozen beauty of Antarctica he is prepared for some extraordinary sights. But on a diving expedition in the polar sea he comes across something so extraordinary as to be almost unbelievable – a man and woman chained together, deep in the ice. The doomed lovers are brought to the surface but as the ice begins to thaw the scientists discover the unusual contents of the bottles buried beside the pair, and realise that they are all in terrible danger…
“Blood & Ice” is quite an original vampire story. It intertwines the past and the present day to give us two stories which run parallel to one another. The story of Sinclair and Eleanor in Victorian England and the other of Michael Wilde, present day photographer and journalist, who travels to a remote research station in Antarctica to write a story for a magazine.
I much preferred the present day and found the characters to be interesting. I liked the background to Michael, the main protagonist, who’s girlfriend and soulmate is in a coma after a tragic accident while hiking. The author does a terrific job at explaining Michael’s feelings and emotions. The other scientists, doctors and workers at the station, especially Darryl the biologist who is a quirky little character, are also an interesting bunch and I enjoyed reading about them.
Masello does a really great job describing the desolate, but spectacular, icy lands of the Antarctic – what an amazing and terrifying place to be. Unfortunately, it is interrupted with that of Victorian England, which although by itself is detailed very well and gives us the story and background of Sinclair and Eleanor, to me it is an unwelcome intrusion and interrupts the flow of the main story. It didn’t help me get to know Sinclair or Eleanor in any real depth so seemed rather pointless and offered far too many passages about their surroundings and the wars of the time period.
I didn’t really need to know about the Crimea war, which had no real baring on the story at all and could, and should in my opinion, have been omitted. It wouldn’t have taken anything away from the main story and in fact would have made the book that much tighter and shorter, and therefore a more enjoyable read.
The summary suggests danger with regards to the two bodies found deep in the freezing cold waters but it couldn’t be farther from the truth. There’s no real blood sucking, except from a bottle Eleanor and Sinclair carry with them – which isn’t very chilling is it. There are a few sections that spice things up when a couple bodies rise after death with the thirst for blood and attack a few people, but on the whole it is pretty tame.
I think that by getting to know Eleanor and Sinclair in the flashbacks, it took away the sinister element of the unknown. I knew they wouldn’t hurt anybody from the outset, as they are both very nice people, so I didn’t feel any tension when the scientific crew raised their bodies from the icy depths.
“Blood & Ice” is quite a dense book and with just being five pages shy of five hundred, a bit too long. I did enjoy it but I wasn’t riveted and it didn’t particularly excite me. There are too many passages of descriptive prose that although are well written bored me slightly and my mind drifted to other things on several occasions.
My two favourite aspects to the story are Michael Wilde who is a very interesting character and I really enjoyed learning about him and his sad background. He’s a very realistic character as is the beautiful Antarctic landscape around him. Antartica plays such an important role in this book with trying to keep it as original as possible, that it is almost like another character.
The ending is very far fetched and something as complex as finding a “cure” wouldn’t happen in a few days. However, the conclusion to each individual character is satisfactory and I closed the book pretty satisfied, albeit with a small “role of the eyes”.
“Blood & Ice” held my interest at the same level throughout – it has a monotonicity about it as nothing really happens – there are no real highs or any real lows.
After reading the quote on the front cover, “Stunning… will chill you to the bone” from Lisa Gardner, I was hoping for something a little bit more unnerving and creepy, but instead I didn’t find this book chilling, frightening or horrific on any level. It may contain vampires but as we get to know them through the back flashes to the 1800’s we realise they are’t really menacing at all and therefore no real threat.
However, even with all it’s faults “Blood & Ice” certainly isn’t a bad book, and I did find myself enjoying it – Michael Wilde and the glorious Antarctic the main reasons – and I would still recommend it.