Bad Bishop

Written by Irene Soldatos
Review by J. Lynn Else

1120 AD: A political chess game is begun when the Duke of Dijon is found murdered. Quickly, alliances are forged as the threat of invasion from a powerful emperor sweeps across nations. These political leaders are not humans, either. They’re Alguls/vampires who have lived unseen alongside humanity. In a time when book production is costly and time-consuming, Alguls have studied and protected history’s documents. Could these old tomes reveal a more sinister ulterior motive behind the Duke’s murder? One Algul intends to find out.

If you like languid political debates, this is your book. For me, there was too much time spent telling versus doing. Every character’s pattern of speech is identical, with their nature utterly monotone during the book’s first half. Despite new characters being given an expanded multi-page backstory, because characters express no emotions or personality traits, it is hard to differentiate between them.

Regarding the writing style, many conversations trail off forebodingly, with an overuse of ellipses ending sentences. Also, the author seriously overuses commas. One sentence has 68 words, and it “ends” with a semicolon. With ambivalence running rampant, plot development is scant. Whenever a significant event occurs, the what is kept secret. Instead, Soldatos’s narration involves ambiguous after-the-fact debates.

This novel reads like a tedious college lecture instead of an intriguing literary story. The last quarter of the book finally involves some face-to-face conflict and action, which is very intriguing. Otherwise, it’s vampires sitting around desks having polite discussions. The book I read was a second edition, which added 138 pages to the original release. Why? The book is too dense with unnecessary, overly complex exposition detrimentally watering down the plot. Cut out the first 200 pages, and you’d have a much more focused and compelling adventure with a unique twist on the origins of vampires.