The Midnight Guardian is an impressive debut
featuring vampires who are over thousand years old – and fighting Nazi Germany.
The vampire community keeps a close eye on their food supply
- the humans. When the Nazi party gains power in Germany, the vampires become
convinced that the Nazis must be stopped or the world will be engulfed in war.
When vampire refugees from Europe flee to Britain with tales of ruthless vampire hunters among the Nazis, the London tribunal decides to send an elite team of vampires to the heart of Germany. They choose five millennials
- vampires who are over a thousand years old - for the job, because they are more powerful than the younger ones.
Brigit is extraordinary even among vampires. Passionate and strong willed, when she becomes angry she can literally spit fire. She loves and hates fiercely, devoted to her lover, Eamon, whom she made almost eight hundred years ago.
They share a strong mental connection; Eamon is too young to join the mission, but he gives her mental strength from afar.
Of her four teammates, two are dear friends: Mors, who was made a vampire during the Roman Republic; and Cleland. Meaghan and Swefar are a couple and are more quiet and insular than most vampires. Brigit is
unsure if she can count on them in a tough situation. She is also frustrated and jealous of them because they can
remain together during the mission.
The book has three levels: one begins in 1938 and follows the five vampires' efforts to slow down or destroy the Nazis, a difficult and slow-going task because the Nazis will not trust them. The pacing of the the first level is slower than the other parts, but the chapters are short
and keep the pace from dragging. In the second level, set in 1940, Brigit is trying to leave Germany on
a train and with a precious cargo. She is trying to evade the officers on the
train and suspects that they know that she is vampire. The third centers on Eamon, who worries in London, sending loving thoughts to Brigit and reliving their history.
These vampires are not complete monsters, even though they need to kill humans to survive. They study philosophy, music, theater, and other arts,
and they share psychic connections with each other. On the other hand, each of them
carries a demon inside which strengthens their will to live and to do violence
when necessary. The older vampires can stay awake during the day and even walk
around, although the sun shining on their naked skin will cause it to burst into flames, so they must keep themselves covered. The vampire population
is quite small, because a vampire makes only one other vampire who then becomes his or her maker's lover. Another is created only if one of the pair is killed.
The characters are pretty sophisticated; Brigit cries during theater performances
and loves books and music. Still, they are capable of horrible violence and almost gleeful when they can massacre Nazis. They also have very modern attitudes, considering that most of them
were made vampires in societies where slavery was common. Regardless, they view all humans as below them
- as food. I particularly enjoyed Mors, two thousand years old and said to be a tactical genius. Unlike the other vampires, he is a soldier and relishes the idea of outwitting or outfighting the Nazis. When the others are depressed, he tries to cheer them up. Also unlike the other vampires, he does not have a lover
(although the reason for that was a bit disappointing to me). He laughs a lot and loves dogs.
Stratford has created an interesting variant on vampires reminiscent of early Anne Rice.