And my second blog tour of the day is for the new book from Elizabeth Davies, who wrote the phenomenal Caitlyn books (reviews here for Three Bloody Pieces, A Stain on the Soul, and Another Kind of Magic) – The Colour of Death is a really interesting vampire story with hints of horror and romance!
Book: The Colour of Death by Elizabeth Davies
Read before: No
Ownership: E-ARC sent free of charge via Rachel’s Random Resources. All opinions my own.
Content warnings: In the first chapter the MC survives a mass shooting, including graphic injury and description of corpses; sexual scenes with dubious consent (mind control); characters trapped in a burning building.
“Mad, bad and dangerous to know.”
Olivia Parr doesn’t believe her ability to see auras is a gift. It hasn’t exactly done her any favours. Quite the opposite, in fact. Having become something of a loner, she tries to avoid people and the glow surrounding them, preferring to view life through the lens of a camera, where she can’t see those telltale colours.
But when a rare visit to a theatre ends in death and bloodshed, Olivia’s life is about to become considerably more complicated.
During the mayhem, one man stands out, and not just because he seems oblivious to the terrible carnage. The reason? He has no aura.
But everyone has an aura, right?
Except for the dead.
Not only is she fascinated and intrigued by this strange, compelling man, in the aftermath of the tragedy she gains a protector; a man whose aura is deep, dark red – the colour of blood.
This is not your standard vampire romance! Despite the swoony cover hinting at romance, and two very charismatic men interested in our heroine, this is closer to a true Gothic horror story. This becomes clear immediately, as the prologue, told from Lord Byron’s perspective, shows us the night where the seeds of Polidori’s The Vampyre and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein were sown. It’s clear that we’re dealing with a particular brand of romantic horror tale with its roots in the most classic of vampires.
Moving into the present day, we meet Olivia, who can see auras, and who catches the attention of both the intriguing Rochdale, who has no aura, and the strong but kind Crow, whose aura is deep red. She encounters them both after a shooter attacks the opera performance she is attending – it’s a graphic scene that gives a chilling tone to the book, and sensitive readers should definitely take care going in. Olivia becomes fascinated by the man with no aura that she sees standing at the back of the room, and Rochdale in turn is determined to find out what is causing her to react to him so strongly – and to put a stop to it before she can reveal his secret. Crow has already lost his sister to Rochdale’s unearthly charms, and is determined to protect Olivia from becoming his next victim.
Rochdale at first seems the more obvious romance candidate; he is suave, well-dressed, and somewhat arrogant, and Olivia can’t keep her hands or her thoughts off him. But this is cleverly subverted by the presence of Crow, and not in a love triangle-y way, which was really interesting to read. Crow is a far less monstrous prospect, and I expect that the next book will develop Olivia and Crow’s relationship more; their attraction to each other is evident here, but they both have more important things on their minds (namely staying alive). What we do see of their interaction is sweet, and hints at something really satisfying to come.
The book really ramps up once Olivia and Crow work out that Rochdale’s magnetism and lack of aura point to his being a vampire. But he is no Twilight-esque modern vampire: no morals, no attempts to regain his humanity. Rather, Rochdale revels in his powers, so what we get is a good old Dracula-esque horror story as he tried to gain control over Olivia. A lot of the classic vampire tropes appear, particularly his animal magnetism, which draws from Dracula’s sexual subtext. It’s wonderfully creepy watching Rochdale worm his way into Olivia’s psyche, and as it becomes a race against time to defeat him, I was turning pages incredibly quickly. As this is only the first book in a trilogy, things obviously aren’t that simple, but the book is well-paced and the tension is high.
Overall, this would suit those looking for a fast-paced story full of classic horror tropes. It’s compelling and creepy, and I think that future books will build up from here into a great series! Four out of five cats!