We have updated our Privacy Policy Please take a moment to review it. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the terms of our updated Privacy Policy.

Venice, 1407. The city is at the height of its powers. In theory, Duke Marco commands, but Marco is a simpleton so his aunt and uncle rule in his stead. They seem all powerful, yet live in fear of assassins better than their own.

On the night their world changes, Marco’s young cousin prays in the family chapel for deliverance from a forced marriage. It is her misfortune to be alone when Mamluk pirates break in to abduct her – an act that will ultimately trigger war.

Elsewhere Atilo, the Duke’s chief assassin, cuts a man’s throat. Hearing a noise, he turns back to find a boy drinking from the victim’s wound. The speed with which the angel-faced boy dodges his dagger and scales a wall stuns Atilo. He knows then he must hunt him. Not to kill him, but because he’s finally found what he thought was impossible – someone fit to be his apprentice.

Award-winning author Jon Courtenay Grimwood is a master storyteller. Here, he blends history, politics and dark fantasy in a compelling vision of an alternative Venice.

Reviews

The writing is elegant, the dialogue is sharp, the characters economically but well drawn, the action unrelenting . . . Hits all the right notes
SCIFI NOW
A well-written novel that features a fully realized setting, engaging characters, and a gripping story rife with complex politics and heartbreaking drama . . .
FANTASY BOOK CRITIC
Grimwood adroitly combines a satisfying complexity with visceral detail and bouts of astounding violence, knit together by suitably Machiavellian intrigue. Pounce on this one
KIRKUS (STARRED REVIEW)
Sharp as a stiletto, dark and dazzling as a masquerade. Grimwood's Venice is totally compelling
Mike Carey
A truly captivating book . . . full of complex people and ever-changing allegiances. The author manages to weave an accomplished tale of unfulfilled desires, unrequited love and uncertain humanity. The climax is quick moving and vivid -- this is a real page-turner
ROMANTIC TIMES
The political intrigue is handled with dexterity, springing surprises and plot twists fuelled by the Machiavellian cast. Grimwood delivers a page-turning read and offers a neat twist on the Vampire theme
GUARDIAN
A twisted, Machiavellian, complicated and ornate book about survival and the terrible lengths people will go to for power
PORNOKITSCH
Gritty, grimy, decadent and compelling
SUNDAY TIMES
This is a book full of mysteries that remain unsolved and outcomes that remain cloudy. Grimwood creates a fascinating world and involving characters - most importantly, he makes us want to read the next two volumes of the trilogy
INDEPENDENT
Brilliant, haunting, dark, gothic historical fantasy... This is the best vampire novel written since The Vampire Lestat, while simultaneously being very different and original
CIVILIAN READER
This is dark majestic stuff . . .
FINANCIAL TIMES
Known for his near-future SF, such as the suberb ARABESK trilogy, Grimwood's new novel still features his trademark alternate timelines. His attention to detail and skillful weaving of fact with fiction make this a fine beginning to his new series
BOOKS QUARTERLY
A hugely enjoyable, gritty, violent and dark fantasy
BOOKCHICKCITY
A novel you can gorge yourself on; a fast-paced, swashbuckling adventure of the old school, full of fire and brimstone thrills and rich flavours
SALON FUTURA
Grimwood's prose sparkles with the flash of fangs and the slash of daggers in the night . . . It is beautifully written, the characters are well-drawn, the plot twisty and layered . . . a tantalizing tale that culminated in some truly fantastic revelations and, above all else, a deeply haunting, deeply lovely vision of Venice
ROBWILLREVIEW.COM
Reinventing the Vampire myth. Never let it be said that Jon Courtenay Grimwood lacks for ambition
SFX
Grimwood's well seasoned skills with storytelling and dialogue makes this opening instalment of the series both delightfully colourful and compellingly readable
BOOKLIST