The Vampire Origins: The Ichorous Project is the first, Young Adult Paranormal, book in its series, Vampire Origins.
The first book centers on the origins of the first of five Vampire tribes the Strigoi, with Vladimir (Vlad) as it`s ‘founding father’. The Author blends historical fact with fiction as she weaves a fast paced story filled with characters.
Vlad aka Vladimir the Impaler slaughtered 30,000 in one night in Jerusalem and impaled 100,000 more in Romania in the 1400s , setting him up as a ruthless killer Vampire. Vlad in present day discovers a way to enslave humans and rule the world. But there`s one thing that could end his plan – a Strigoi human and Vlad would stop at nothing to achieve his goal or rather finish his project.
The main girl Scarlett Fraser has no idea she was that Strigoi when her father moved their family again, this time to Romania to renovate an old castle that was ground zero for Vlad’s Ichorous Project and his plan for world domination.
The book starts off with a bang, right in the middle of Russian revolutionist history, with a not so dead prince Alexei (Alex) and princess Anastasia (Anna) Romanov, and their journey to Vampiredom. It`s here that I got really excited being a history major myself and growing up with movies with conspiracy theories about princess Anastasia.
The Author takes us back to 1915-1925 introducing us to Alex and Anna before they are turned Vampire by Vlad. We fall in love with their story of survival, as their mother hides them from the Bolsheviks and them later on being discovered by a servant Ivan who wasn`t at the castle when it was attacked. We receive this information from Alex`s point of view in a flashback, who`s about to ask, Kristiina, Ivan`s daughter to marry him, but Vlad steps in, resulting in Kristiina`s death and them becoming Vampires.
As the Frasers get introduce into the story from here on, you get sucked into their family dramas of sibling bickery as well as true family tragedy, in the form of their mother dying right after the birth of the youngest sister, Ruby. Scarlett`s the one who feels it the most. She blames her little sister for her death.
Scarlett`s a spitfire tomboy who grew up with three brothers- they`re quadruplets. Scarlett`s struggle makes her surly and in compassionate at times, but she still obeys her father to a certain extent and looks after her sister.
But if you thought the book revolves just around Scarlett, you are mistaken. The other characters also have prominence. And that`s why I thank the Author for the character list at the beginning of the book. It`s a good reference point, though it wasn`t tough for me to sort them out, I know that some could find it confusing.
The first hundred pages flew by for me. I was excited and exhilarated at how the normal was going to meet the paranormal. I`ve already developed a crush on Alex and was already predicting his role in Scarlett`s life. Alas it was not the role I wanted. It was clear that the Author decidedly moved away from the typical ‘old vampire falls for the seventeen year old girl’. And in my book that`s okay.
The Author also explores the relationship between Vampires and Werewolves, playing on the age old animosity between the two. In this book Werewolves are the slaves to Vampires, the ‘bottom of the food chain’. But there are those who are thought of as even less, shape-shifters and it is with a shape-shifter, Caleb that Scarlett falls in love with. Though it`s not an epic love, it is a teenage one with all the drama and unexpected break-ups that goes along with it.
Of course Vlad has a nemesis in the form of his wife`s nephew, Lachlan. And Lachlan, besides making a play for Scarlett and inevitably finding out the secret to Vlad`s demise, play`s the malevolent ‘bad boy’ who has no problem killing to get his way. He manipulates everyone around him, using dark magic and his Vampire abilities. Being a Cambion, he`s a pureblood Vampire with all the arrogance of one.
What I did want more though was Vlad`s story. From the book`s blurb you expect at least an introduction to Vlad early on, but it doesn`t come until later in the book and by then you`ve forgotten that the story is actually about Vlad, Vampire Origins and The Ichorous Project, because you`ve become so invested in everyone else`s story.
The story definitely has twists and turns, but because it`s a third-person narrative, it doesn`t offer the punch the Author intended. There are interesting moments like when the Author takes liberties with famous celebrities.
By the end of the book I, however, was left…bereft. I wanted more details of the Ichorous Project. I wanted to know Vlad`s origin story. How did he come into existence? And why is it so important for him to start the project in the first place? With things like blood banks, the whole concept didn`t jell for me. I needed an explanation on why Vlad the Impaler would spend time doing something like this.
Second, Scarlett stands in the way of him finishing the project. Never in the book does it get revealed how she would achieve this. Does it have something to do with her blood? Or just the fact that her hand would hold the tool to kill him? I would have liked to be in on that secret.
And lastly, Vampire Origins set out to do something few supernatural/paranormal books have done, explain the origins of Vampires, something I applaud. It`s ambitious in that endeavor, still I don`t know where the Strigoi come from. There are five tribes (The Cambion, The Bretonnian, The Strix, The Nosferatu, and The Strigoi) , each has their description, but none of them a true origin like some popular fiction has attempted to do e.g. True Blood with its Biblical claims.
There were definite parts that I loved, but then there were also parts that I didn`t. The ending was a bit abrupt and left too many things hanging or rather too many characters hanging. The background of Russian history interwoven in Alex and Anna`s story was superb, I would like to read more about either of them. And that`s the other concern, I`m more interested in, what I assumed to be, the back stories of the book than the main characters.
And therefore because of this I give Vampire Origins: The Ichorous Project a 3 out of 5. There will definitely be those who would enjoy the fast paced and ambitious attempt at explaining Vampire origins.
- Vampire Origins: Project Ichorous by Riley Banks (The Strigoi Book 1) (teenblurb.org)
- 1979 – Vlad Țepeș the Impaler – THE REAL STORY of DRACULA (euzicasa.wordpress.com)