Vampire The Begotten by Dayna Ward
(The Begotten Vampire series book 1)
"If you loved the Twilight Saga, you will hate my books." This is what Dayna Ward says of Vampire The Begotten, the first book in her Begotten Vampire series. I confess I loved the Twilight Saga, and yes, Dayna’s book is as far away from the glamour of Twilight as you can get, but I also love Vampire The Begotten.
The cover is eye-catching, a black background tinged with red. The stark image shows someone in distress, long white hair falling over her shoulders, her hand obscuring her face. Then under the word VAMPIRE, in red is The Begotten, underlining the picture as if in blood.
The prologue is chilling. If you didn’t know what to expect before you started to read the book, you do now. Someone has kidnapped a woman and her little brother. In what appears to be a ritual setting, we find that the boy is dead, the woman is bound, gagged and scared that she will be next.
We quickly fall in love with our main character Erica, also known as Eiko, the name given to her by her not-so-loving mother. Erica is loving and giving; she is a ‘baby cuddler’, volunteering to cuddle premature babies while they receive treatment to keep them alive. We gradually understand that she has difficulties in life – her vision is poor, she cannot drive. People tease her because of her appearance. We feel her love and concern for people; we wince at her harsh treatment by others.
We meet Isaac, a child she works with, to whom she is very attached She works in play therapy – a children’s occupational therapist. We meet her friend Henry, an older man who works at the hospital where she volunteers. Romance books are her guilty pleasure. Her lovely little world is perfectly built, as long as you don’t look too deep. Erica has nightmares, so bad that she had to warn her neighbours in case her screams disturbed them.
Then the bottom falls out of Erica’s world. Something bad has happened to Isaac. He’s not dead – yet.
We hear of a serial killer on the news. Ritual murders. Erica’s life spirals as she finds that vampires aren’t glamourous. Not all vampires are beautiful nor sexy; some are hideous – the stuff of nightmares. Not all vampires like their new improved version – for some it is not. For some survival is hard. Not all of them make it.
Erica’s struggle with her conscience is real. She hates the man who turned her into this monster, yet she needs to stay with him to find her way through this new life that was not of her making. She is more than she ever believed she could be.
The author skilfully uses foreshadowing to involve the reader, giving hints of what is to come if the reader cares to pick up on these.
When Erica is first attacked – by a human - in her struggle to get free she bites her attacker’s hand and tastes blood.
Her rescuer when she is first at risk is not what he seems. Erica shouldn’t have trusted him. She has been betrayed. I found myself talking to Erica, warning her not to be so trusting, not again.
Dayna uses the environment to set the scene. ‘The sky’s red flow eventually faded to darkness, making stars visible.’ And yet that description in itself is a foreshadowing of what is to come.
Plot points are carefully crafted. Nothing is left to the last minute leaving the reader asking where did that come from? The items Erica takes with her at the beginning when she leaves her life behind become a focal point much later in the story. This attention to detail is good and makes sure the story flows well.
The vampires are many and various, each with their tale to tell. This story held my attention as I read late into the night. I began to understand these wayward, often unlovable, vampires, as one sums up his frustration – ‘I can only tell you how it is, Erica, but I can’t tell you why, because I don’t know why. It’s just how I’ve existed and how all our kind have existed.’
I found this a compelling read, and I am waiting perhaps not so patiently for the next book in the series.
I asked Dayna to tell us a little about her self-publishing journey.
Dayna chose to self-publish this book, following a bad experience with a ‘traditional’ publisher who turned out to be a vanity/hybrid press. It didn’t work well for her so she decided to self-publish to keep control of her work.
Many people will say that a professional editor is essential. For many new writers just starting out, the cost is prohibitive. Dayna edited her manuscript herself using aids such as Grammarly, Hemingway, ProWriting Aid and AutoCrit. She went over the manuscript at least six times before she was ready to publish. She says that the article in the link below made some good points.
I asked Dayna how she found publishing with Amazon’s KDP. ‘I like it so far,’ she says. ‘It’s given me a chance to publish my work before I die of old age. (Don’t laugh. I’m working on a series. I’ve probably committed myself to this project for the next 10 years.)’
Of marketing, Dayna admits that it’s difficult ‘but isn’t that the usual story?’ She is hoping for greater success once she has more than one book in the series.
I wish Dayna every success for the future.
Check out Dayna’s website at www.daynaward.com