Author: Matt Hofferth
Series: The Spirit Binder #1
Age Group: Young adult
Published: July 2011
Source: Review copy from author
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First sentence:“Why are you always working?” my mother screamed in the other room.
They say curiosity killed the cat. In Michael Allen’s case, the saying proved incomplete. All it got him was a vampire bite.
Twenty years later, Michael has crafted a comfortable life for himself in a small town in the Midwest, removed from as many human interactions as possible. He’s even gone so far as to forgo human blood, instead making use of artificial plasma. Unable to forgive himself for inadvertently becoming an agent of death and feeling responsible for the events that led to his father’s demise, Michael is content to just drift through the ages alone. That is, until he hears the voice: No!
Just one word. Yet it blossoms in his mind with such heartfelt intensity that he feels compelled to seek out the identity of its owner. In doing so, Michael lets a different cat out of the bag and rediscovers some very human emotions that he thought had died twenty years earlier. Along the way Michael gets caught up in an ancient power struggle involving shapeshifters and samurai. Only by reconciling himself with his past can he salvage a chance at saving the woman he has grown to love and the power she was born to protect.
Never judge a book by its’ cover. Okay, sometimes it’s okay but I probably wouldn’t have looked twice at The Binder’s Daughter from the cover alone and it was a really great read with a mixture of the life of a vampire, shapeshifters and Japanese folklore which I would have missed out on. I found the combination of these different things made this book a completely unique read and it was very appropriately atmospheric to boot.
Michael lives his life ashamed what he is and also with a sense of guilt for the death of his father when he was much younger, and is perhaps the only vampire who doesn’t kill for human blood. More than anything he longs to be human but he deals with the fact that that isn’t an option, as he has had to, with the help of his nerdy German vampire friend, Matthias. Okay so these are fairly common vampire novel tropes but instead of following the human female, we follow his viewpoint as he discovers this whole other world he never imagined could exist.
I was pretty impressed with Matt’s thoughtfulness when it came to identity and money. Every few years they need to change their identity and move around and they store their money in a neutral Swiss bank. I dunno, I thought that was something that doesn’t tend to be addressed in vampire novels usually so it was nice to see it thought over.
The writing style in The Binder’s Daughter can be a little clunky. Michael sounds like he grew up in a posh family during the 1880’s rather than the 1980’s, and the first part of the novel is fairly slow going. I did notice a couple of plot holes as well. However, there is plenty of mystery, particularly surrounding “The Voice”, as Michael comes to call it, which draws the reader in. You want to know who the voice belongs to and why Michael hears it. And when you do find out the source of this Voice, the book gets good. I think it was about halfway through when the story really picked up for me.
There’s a lot of backstory and careful planning which makes this book what it is. The characters all had their individualities which make them loveable in their own ways. Matthias brings a sense of humour to the story, and his friendship with Michael is obviously an old one which you can tell from their closeness and constant mockery of each other. I also particularly liked “The Beast”, the other voice in his head representing the suppressed monster that is full of snarky comments about how Michael is apparently a wuss for not killing humans. There are also some very emotional scenes, particularly with his mother, that had me in tears which were very well-written. And of course, gotta love Kiara. She brings darkness and light to the story which gives it some great depth.
The hints to something happening in future books as well make me pine for more and the ending is utterly haunting. What started out as an okay book from a debut author became a phenomenal one and I urge you to try The Binder’s Daughter for yourself.