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Children of the Night    by Dan Simmons order for
Children of the Night
by Dan Simmons
Order:  USA  Can
Griffin, 2012 (1992)
Hardcover, Paperback, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

This tale was first released in 1992 and then, as now, Simmons' scientific spin (recessive mutation) on vampirism gives the story a nifty twist. Most of the action takes place in post-Ceausescu Romania shortly after the dictator's bloody demise and as Romanians are trying to reconstruct the pieces of their broken country.

The story centres on immunologist Kate Neuman, the dying baby she's adopted and her struggle to whisk the ailing Joshua out of the hellish conditions of one of the countless Romanian orphanages, not to mention the nightmare that is post communist Romania.

Once safely back in America, further research indicates that her baby suffers from a fatal combination of genetic abnormalities. When a blood transfusion temporarily turns Joshua's condition around, Neuman and her fellow researchers are flabbergasted by the infant's baffling physiology, which could hold the key to curing a plethora of diseases including AIDS and cancer.

Vlad Tsepes has a far more important role for Joshua. As his biological son, the child will be groomed to take over as the new leader of Tsepes' ancient clan of long-lived blood drinkers. Kate is horrified when Tsepes sends his minions to kidnap her son, murdering people she loves during the attack. Heartbroken as well as furious, she's determined to rescue her son despite the almost insurmountable odds she must face once she's back in Romania - and in Vlad's dark and terrifying domain.

I enjoyed Children of Night in 1992 and even more so this time around. Dan Simmons is a master character craftsman and does an equally good job painting the bleak misery of Romania after the fall of Ceausescu. Best of all is the author's imaginative resurrection of the infamous Vlad Tsepes, arguably one of the most brutal historical figures to come out of 13th century Europe. Numerous chapters throughout the story are through his point of view as he explains his journey from sickly prince to leader of a country whose soil turned red from the thousands he executed, whether they were invaders or his own countrymen. Bloodcurdling stuff!!

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