A Love Like Blood – Marcus Sedgwick
Marcus Sedgwick is already established as a gifted, award-winning author of YA novels but A Love Like Blood marks his first venture into the adult market. So is it a tentative dipping of toes in the water or all-out submersion? A bit of both, I would say, as the narrative displays the same intelligence and curiosity of Sedgwick’s YA work whilst eschewing the typically teen Twilight approach to vampire stories.
Our narrator Charles Jackson has been haunted by what he witnessed in 1944 shortly after the Liberation of Paris. In a bunker in Saint-Germain he thinks he saw a man crouched over the body of a young woman, drinking her blood. He tries to put the horrifying sight out of his mind but seven years later, during a return visit to Paris, he sees the same man and feels compelled to investigate further. What ensues is a gripping, psychological thriller which spans 24 years as Charles hunts for and is hunted by the mysterious stranger.
Charles specialises in haematology, the study of blood, and this story also focuses on blood, Charles’ and indeed humanity’s obsession with blood.
I learned at medical school how the colour of blood changes with its state of oxygenation, from dark, almost purplish, through to the brightest lurid red, but whatever its precise colour, our earliest selves must have formed a deep relationship with it. Relationship, that’s the only word I can use, and still, after all my time thinking about it, I cannot find an answer to the question of blood.
This is a story of love, of extremes, passion, revenge, obsession, questioning the very primitive essence of man. It has that gothic vibe which imbues Sedgwick’s earlier books – think more modern Bram Stoker than cute teen vampires and less vampire than Freudian ponderings. The pace has a steady ebb and flow much like the blood pulsing through our veins and the pressure increases steadily as Charles’ quest takes him across Europe. At times it is unclear as to who is hunting who – is Charles the prey or the predator? Some of the chase is reminiscent of The 39 Steps and that classic black and white film starring Robert Donat. Charles is not your typical hero and his flaws make him all the more realistic. At times I also felt touches of Carlos Ruiz Zafon in the European Gothic style. Having said that, I think it’s fair to say that Sedgwick has his own distinctive, elegant style.
A Love Like Blood will introduce Marcus Sedgwick to a much wider readership but I hope he will also continue to feed the curious minds of children and Young Adults with his other material.
A Love Like Blood is published by Mulholland Books – release date – 27th March 2014.