From the publisher:
The Extraordinary Adventures of Emma Andrews, Victorian Lady and Vampire Hunter
"Though it is many decades later, it all comes back to me; back to those early days when the terror was new and I was dangerously untrained. When I was young and did not yet know I had a secret. . ."
Twenty-five-year-old widow Emma Andrews grew up in the shadow of her mother's madness, so when she arrives at Dulwich Manor in the midst of a mysterious plague and soon thereafter begins to see specters, her family fears fate has finally caught up with her. But one guest among them knows Emma's visions are more than a trick of the mind. Valerian Fox has hunted the great vampire lord Marius through time and across continents, and he knows Emma has a remarkable destiny. She is Dhampir—a vampire hunter.
Surrounded by those who would use her powers for their own ends, Emma does not know who to trust or what she can believe. But when her young cousin is marked for death, she must embrace the terrible inheritance that lies in her very blood to save those she loves.
An extraordinary saga of courage, love, duty, and honor, of darkest destiny and ancient evil . . . and of the shadow of the Dracula himself. It begins.
Descent Into Dust begins with the main character, Emma, reflecting back upon her life and realizing that it is time to tell her unique and obviously unusual story.
"This is a tale of when I... Well, I can hardly say it outright. You would only shake your head in disbelief. What I am about to tell you requires faith. It should unfold exactly the way it happened, for perhaps you will see how it was- and know that every word is the absolute truth."
Right away you are made aware that Emma is not a traditional miss, and that her ordinary life as a widow is about to be changed dramatically.
"The latter, however, a rather rakish-looking young man, perhaps a year or two my junior, gave me an utterly male look that bordered on impertinence, and immediately lifted my spirits."
I was reminded of a Victoria Holt novel- the overall feel of the story is intriguing and lends itself to a mystery. Some Victorian stories struggle to remain fluid, often bogging the reader down with endless descriptions of worn buildings, teatimes, and the latest fashion trends, but Descent uses vivid description and memorable characters to move the story along, drawing you into the shadowy world of Dulwich Manor in Avebury.
The characters were genuine and full of surprises. Sebastian is perhaps one of the best written and my favorite secondary character. He provides a break from the drama by being flippant and fun, even while he holds a shocking secret of his own. Valerian Fox, a vague family friend that shows up at Dulwich, is brooding and decidedly secretive but proves to be an ally in the fight to stop Marius. Emma is practical to a fault and I enjoyed her direct qualities. One of Emma's best lines demonstrates her personality and wit.
" Mr. Fox, really, can we dispense with such useless observances of propriety. Men and women have been creeping in and out of bedrooms for centuries with less provocation than we two have between us this night."
Descent Into Dust is a remarkable Gothic adventure filled with intriguing vampire lore, stunning imagery and a brilliant fight between good and evil. I look forward to further Emma Andrews stories- and I hope Valerian makes an appearance too!
To learn more about Jacqueline Lepore, visit her website.
Reviewed by Anna Dougherty for VampChix