This book is the origin story for Midnight, a main character in Vampire Island and the battle for Malikperse.
Keith Armstrong, the author, tells us he has written an epic tale. He certainly has in terms of physical length- there is a lot to read. It meets all the criteria to be classed as epic. The story is historical and set over a long time span. The journey starts when humans first started to gather and settle in communities. Midnight was the chief’s daughter, given powers by a god to protect her people. It follows Midnight through thousands of years, from a time before the Sahara was desert, to Egypt in the time of Cleopatra, to fighting the Roman Empire, living in ancient Greece, and making treaties with Britain in the 1700s.
The wide-ranging settings present opportunities for adventure and obstacles to be overcome. In the beginning, Midnight had to discover how best to save her people from the many enemies they faced. As time moved on, her challenges changed becoming ever greater and with increasing responsibility.
The problem with immortality is that the world changes around you, with a never ending cycle of loss as the mortals you care for die, even if they don’t fall in battle prematurely, but live to a peaceful old age. The generations of mortals around you will forget the people you cared for, but Midnight never will. She visits her village in Africa for hundreds of years after she has been forgotten there, to mourn her sister whom she loved dearly and to check that her people are safe, willing to step in as their protector once more if she is needed.
Midnight is immortal as she is a vampire. There are few things that can kill a vampire as long as they aren’t careless and stay out in the sun. Yet there are enemies that like to try. An amazing array of supernatural folk inhabit Midnight’s world – werewolves, dwarves, giants, goblins, witches, elves, lizard men and more. Midnight does what she has to. She will try to win them over but will happily kill them if they continue to present a threat.
One constant thought drives Midnight through the years – the desire to find Malik, the being that turned her into a vampire. Rumours say that he is evil, a bad man to be feared. Midnight believes otherwise. She follows any hint of where he might be, intent on her quest to find him.
As Midnight travels through history, we are presented with different versions of the history that we are familiar with, different takes that make the reader stop and question what they think they know. The pyramids were capped with copper. They generated electricity that lit Egypt and warmed the homes of people who lived there.
Jesus was an illusionist who tricked people with some form of mind power. The guy he brought back from the dead was a trick. He was wolf cursed, not quite a werewolf, and appeared dead till he rose again when commanded by his wolf master.
Even traditional beliefs of folk lore are challenged. Vampires are good. They keep crime down by feeding on those that break laws.
The author tells us that Midnight: a vampire island saga is a fantasy similar to the world of Harry Potter but for grown-ups. It is definitely not for children. Themes touched on can be disturbing. Sex creeps in often, not always in a good way. Midnight lets herself be raped so that the rapist can be caught and brought to justice. After, she tells her companion that she enjoyed the experience.
Violence will always be present in these sort of epic tales where fighting for survival is a necessity. Yet the descriptions of torture are graphic in a way that, for me, felt uncomfortable. A rapist’s penis was cut off and shoved up his rear end till Midnight’s arm was in up to her elbow.
There is however an element of humour that can lighten the tone. The signal to alert companions of their return was ‘the loudest fart possible from any human arse’. One bit that made me chuckle, and I don’t know if it was intentional or not, was when Midnight was going under cover, saying that she was studying scrolls to learn more about the creatures of the night. In her bag, she has scrolls, writing materials and ‘fake class notes’.
This tale is wonderful in its breadth and imagination which makes it a worthwhile read, especially if you read it as part of the Vampire island and Malikperse saga.
That said, there are a couple of things that distract from immersion in the story. The author writes in sentence fragments, often. Initially I found this disconcerting and I was more than a few pages in before I came to terms with his style. There is room for further editing. There are issues with wrong word choice and with incorrect punctuation in dialogue. These are easily rectified.
Having said that, this book still deserves a place on your reading list.
I asked the author to tell me about themself and their writing journey
I have always wanted to be an author growing up, but many people told me that it would never happen. So, I didn’t really try. I have wrote on and off since I was in middle school. But never finished any work. I think looking back that I was always writing about action and martial arts which I just couldn’t build on it. Then in the early 90’s I watched ‘Interview with the vampire’. I loved that movie. I bought the book and that was it, I was hooked on this new take on the vampire world created by the late ‘great’ Anne Rice. I have always been into horror for as far back as I can remember. However, I feel as of late horror in fading out. Vampire fiction is not the same anymore. So, I wanted to bring vampires and even the classic Nosferatu’s. I started writing my first book, ‘Vampire Island’ during the pandemic mainly just for something to do. A few chapters in my wife and daughter both said why not try to get it published. So, once I was finished with it I thought why not. And my journey started.
I looked into using an editor but prices were too high, so I just used software to edit and read and re-read lots of times. I must admit doing it this way, you still find errors, but you can always re-edit your work.
I found KDP great to use, everything you need to know is on the site and they even have templates that are good to use too.
For eBooks it is great, and if you fix any errors, you may find later on after re-reading your work. It is easy to re-upload your edited files to KDP.
I love paperbacks, there is nothing like holding the work you have worked so hard at, in your hands. Flicking through those pages, reading a world that you have created. That for me, is known you have something that is yours and you can show the world you have made it. Your hard work has paid off.
Marketing is very hard. I’ve had most success with my T-shirts. Or at least that is how I know if people bought my books. I wore one the other day and some guy in a shop I was in stopped me and told my he read that book and how much he liked it. Then I told him I wrote it. After the ‘Get away, really’. He gave me some good feedback and asked if I was writing more.
Keith, thanks for sharing your journey. Check out the Vampire Island saga on the links below.
Available on Amazon in Kindle unlimited and in paperback.