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The Midnight Guardian: A Millennial Novel by Sarah Jane Stratford
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
St. Martin's Press Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780312560133
Date: 13 October 2009 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

It is World War II and Nazi Germany has commenced the extermination of all Jews, gypsies, homosexuals...and vampires. The British tribunal of millennials (powerful vampires that have lived for over a thousand years) fears that the war will produce a shortage of humans from which it can feed. The leader of the millennials, Otonia, selects five vampires to travel to Berlin and thwart the Third Reich's plans to cleanse Europe of vampires. Among them is the beautiful, talented Brigit.

Though Brigit is physically separated from her lover, Eamon, she maintains a psychic link with him through his music and singing. In times of great peril, she draws strength from him. The five millennials kill many SS soldiers. Brigit, a fierce warrior, single-handedly slaughters two-hundred Nazis in a theater. However, her greatest challenge comes when she vows to transport two Jewish children from Berlin to London. She finds herself constantly threatened by Sergeant Maurer who desires to become a vampire, Doctor Schultze who wishes to dissect her, and vampire hunters known as the Nachtspeere.

The Midnight Guardian is an enchanting and enthralling novel of historical vampire horror. Beautifully written by Sarah Jane Stratford, it focuses on Brigit, a super heroine. Because she is a vampire who views humans as food, she could be looked upon as an anti-heroine. However, as the novel progresses, Brigit spends an increasing amount of time with the children; her motherly instincts cause her to grow more sympathetic towards the plight of humans labeled "undesirables", especially the Jews. Her fight to save vampires from Nazis turns into a fight to save all those who are targeted for destruction by the Third Reich.

One may ask what is special about the millennial vampires other than their long life spans. They excel in the fine arts; Brigit loves to read and Eamon enjoys singing and playing musical instruments. Extremely faithful and loving, they tend to mate for life. They don't sleep in coffins. They can venture outside on an overcast day; however, they need clothing to protect them from direct sunlight. They are able to slay quicker and more viciously than other vampires. Brigit and her friends are the perfect killing machines, especially when angered; their eyes turn red and sometimes flames explode from their bodies.

Because they are very cultured, Brigit and Eamon speak as though they are in a Shakespearean drama. Many of their words and thoughts are poetic. They are very much in love. The Midnight Guardian is very romantic. On the flipside of this bizarre, Gothic tale, there is a tremendous amount of violence and gore. Millennials enjoy ripping off body parts and tossing them around, finding it greatly humorous and sporting. The Midnight Guardian is not for the squeamish. Take a sadistic vampire, such as Anne Rice's Lestat de Lioncourt, and imagine him and four of his closest friends running amok in Berlin slaughtering as many SS soldiers as possible. What you have is a nightmare.

The Midnight Guardian will transport the reader hundreds of years into the past. Brigit was once a wild child who roamed the English heath until Aelric, a Viking, turned her into a vampire. She never loved him. Eventually, he is killed by the Nachtspeere. Over two-hundred years later, she turns Eamon into a vampire in order to save him during the Jewish extermination in York. The main plot occurs during World War II, one of the darkest times in earth's history, and in one of the most dangerous cities, Berlin.

Upon initially reading The Midnight Guardian, I was troubled by the lack of a truly righteous character. What the novel has is evil versus evil. However, I soon found myself rooting for Brigit and her cohorts, Mors, Swefred, Meaghan and Cleland. The Nazis are so despicable that even vampires pale in comparison. Somehow, my fondness for Brigit grew and grew until, by the end of the novel, I was truly feeling an admiration and affection for her. Brigit's devotion to the children's safety was warmhearted and touching. She proved to be a great guardian.

The Midnight Guardian is a must read for fans of historical vampire novels, especially those written by Anne Rice. This one is the first in a trilogy. A great blend of mystery, intrigue, action, horror and romance, The Midnight Guardian is guaranteed to captivate the reader. Brigit is destined to become the greatest vampire heroine since Vampirella. Courageous, beautiful and deadly, Brigit is bound to steal your heart and your soul. I look forward to reading more adventures of her and her fellow millennials.

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