“Part of him wanted to know everything about this swordsman, believing he might carry a sliver of hope that he could finally free himself.
The other half accepted the grim reality that no one was coming to rescue him from this purgatory.”
Now this is how a vampire story should be written.
“All the Waywards have fallen… After a mission against the Royal Vampiric Court goes horribly wrong, all of the Waywards are slaughtered. All except one.
Davion, the last surviving member, must consume potions to mask himself and hide amongst the very people who killed his brethren. After a decade of living this double-life, Davion has resigned himself to his new purgatory. But all will not remain calm for him or the Court.
An unknown swordsman arrives, and after killing several Royal Vampires, rumor spreads that he’s searching for anyone still belonging to The Wayward order. Davion decides he must track down this mysterious swordsman. But will finding him bring freedom or his own demise.”
I had connected with Bryan Asher at a SFF panel in the Spring of 2023 and picked up his books later that Fall.
Per the authors recommendation, I started my journey with The Fear of Moncroix and was not let down. The book is only 256 pages. However, don’t let that fool you. Bryan has this godlike talent to build a complete world, magic system, and characters into such a short length. Additionally, his writing is fully fleshed out and flows together beautifully.
Moncroix is a sleeper agent fantasy story following Davion, one of the last Waywards. He has been trapped undercover in the Royal Vampire Court for a decade after an unsuccessful mission against the vampire clan resulted in the slaughtering of the Wayward organization.
The story kicks off right before the action and wastes no time in setting the scene. The Waywards are discussing the way to infiltrate the Moncriox vampires. Knowing that an unsuccessful mission can spell catastrophe for all mankind, you begin to feel an immediate sense of urgency within that first chapter. Thus the tone is set for the remainder of the novel.
At no point was this book being put down. The story from beginning to end was highly engaging. When I was confident that I had the ending figured out, I was proven very wrong. With the book being a constant climax, Bryan writes fantastic twists that you will not see coming. He achieves this while also subtlety dropping plot hints throughout the story.
One concept that struck a chord with me is the uniqueness of the Moncroix vampires. There is some specific lore surrounding their fangs that sets Bryan’s vampires apart from others that you might see in mainstream media. It gives the book that extra depth and distinctiveness. Additionally, that new and unique take gives the story that “breath of fresh air” feel.
The author has three separate novels that take place within the same world. While Moncroix itself did have references to the other novels, it was not too in depth and did not spoil any future plot lines.
It’s always enjoyable to read when an author makes individual stories that tie in together with their other books. Bryan easily sits in my top five Indie authors. While I’m very excited to dive into the other works, I truly can’t wait to see what else he has in store for us. Hopefully, we will see our beloved Moncroix characters in future adventures!
The gorgeous cover art for this book was created by illustrator Christian Angel.