Reviewed by Awesome Indies
June 7, 2012
Wow, another instalment in the On the Soul Series about the beautiful French vampire Valery. If you don’t like vampire stories, then read on, because this is nothing like the usual vampire fare. This series reminds me more of Dostoevsky than Stephanie Meyers or any other contemporary vampire author. It’s a long time since I’ve read the Russian masters, but the intensity, passion and depth of philosophy in Krisi Keley’s books give me the same kind of feeling. These are powerful and thought provoking books and a must-read for anyone interested in philosophy or the wide sweep of European and American history, especially as it relates to the pervading ideas of the various time periods.
It’s the exquisite character of Valery that drives these books, eloquent, intelligent, deeply contemplative, witty and beautiful both inside and outside. He was a young man with tremendous faith in God when he was turned into a vampire against his will in thirteenth century France, just after the Children’s Crusade in 1212. Volume one of Pro Luce Habere chronicles his outer journey from that time through centuries of life in Europe, and the inner journey of his struggle to reconcile his belief in God and the morals inherent in that belief with the fact that he must kill in order to live.
Volume two continues from there and takes Valery to the New World of America in its early days of colonisation. During the civil war, he uses his abilities to take away the suffering of soldiers who are dying in such pain that they beg for death. To them, he is an angel. We follow him back to Europe for a time and through the two terrible world wars of the twentieth century. Valery continues to suffer over the nature of his existence, feeling that he is an evil monster, while it is clear to those who love him that his soul is full of the light of love and compassion. His unquenchable search for truth and the depth of his love are extremely moving.
The purity of Valery’s love will make you question your assumptions about the role of sex in a love relationship. Keley’s vampires have no desire for sex, just for the knowing of a soul that they feel at the moment they take a life. It is this, more than the blood, which sustains them and drives their blood lust. The purist of souls ignite Valery’s love, and his relationships with those who, even though he fights against it, inevitably become his ‘children’ are extraordinary.
His pain is that he can’t overcome his overwhelming desire to completely know the mortals he loves, as he only can at the moment of their death at his hands, or to loose them to a mortal death. So, even though he knows he is condemning them to the everlasting suffering of a pure soul fighting the evil of his existence, he turns them, then suffers with remorse as they fight the same inner battle he does.
The first book was set in the present day, and books two and three are Valery’s memories as he lies dying in the arms of his beloved at the end of book one. At the end of this book, we return to that point.
These books are deeply moving, and if you like an intense, passionate character, extraordinary writing and have a fascination for history, then you may become a fan. I give it 5 stars and look forward to the next instalment.
Reviewed by Tahlia Newland
This is an extraordinary work of fiction. The central character is a vampire, but this is not your usual vampire story; it is an amazing way of looking at history through the eyes of a man who has lived through it – all of it. The depth of characterisation, the historical detail, the questions raised and the quality of the prose are all exemplary. When I think of the books that have moved me the most, this is top of the list.