When Zorka Circus performs, its big top roars with laughter and cheers, but when it moves on, there are fewer children in the European towns it leaves behind.
Circus Security Chief Rurik suspects a killer hides among the international performers, but they close ranks—they’ve always viewed lightning-scarred Rurik as the monster. Nevertheless, he’s determined to find the culprit and stop them before anyone else dies and the only place he can call home is ripped apart by the murders.
Into Zorka Circus comes the Skomori clan, despised as gravediggers and ghoulish bloodwalkers. A one-day truce allows bloodwalker Sylvie to marry. Instead, she finds a body. Alerting others will defy her clan’s strict rules, break the truce, and leave her an outcast.
When more bodies turn up, the killer’s trail becomes impossible to ignore. Rurik and Sylvie must follow the clues—even if they lead to something unimaginable.
On nearby streets, people left their offices and entered parked cars or waited at the bus stop. If any glance up at the peculiar form crouched on the church parapet, they’d betray no curiosity. That would be impolite – a violation of the keep-to-yourself code that held the country of radically diverse ancestries and cultures together. He’d be written off as trick of the light of maybe an extra gargoyle. The stone monsters sat atop the old facades in Budapest any way. Being mistaken for a monster was nothing new. Rurik was used to it.
The police presence and general alarm would be greater if they knew it was actually four children missing, not just one.
A little girl taken from a park in Northern Italy. A boy taken from a playground in Slovenia. A girl taken from an abandoned Slovenian train station a week later. And now a girl from Budapest.
No one had put it together except Rurik. No one realized that each child had vanished on the day of the final performance of the Zorka Cyrka.
And the killer’s appetite was increasing. Tomorrow was the circus’s last show in Budapest, and already a little girl was gone. Dora Tolnay had vanished on her way to a friend’s house. Her parents told the newspaper she often cut through the train yard to get there. This time, however, she never came out.
Tension crept into Rurik’s shoulders, and he rolled the stiffness out. He didn’t have much time before he needed to leave. The killer had to make his move soon. Then Rurik heard it. The tiniest jingle, cutting through the sunset’s stillness, like a cat’s bell of warning.
A shape emerged from the trees on the far side of the warehouse. White silk shrouded the figure, giving it a ghostly glow in the dimness. But it wasn’t a ghost. Far from it. It was a clown. The oversized tunic and baggy pants bore a checkered harlequin motif although clowns rarely wore that style anymore. And Rurik hadn’t seen the stiff fabric of the Elizabethan neck-ruff anywhere but old pictures. Yet there it was, like it had stepped from a silent film, accompanied not by an organ, but by bells tinkling from the tips of it’s three pronged jester hat. The figure loped in a strange see-saw motion, somewhere between a limp and a gorilla’s hunched gait, it’s legs carrying it along almost as if they weren’t jointed like a normal human’s.
5* Book Review:
This book is a truly unique piece of fiction. A mix of genres, a cast of diverse and complex personalities, and writing that transports you into the events of the book. Main character, Rurik, is far from perfect. Having been through some tough times and experienced things he’d rather forget, it’s his job to keep a travelling circus safe – and keep the lurking evil out.
Children disappear from wherever the circus performs, and Rurik is determined to try and stop it happening any more. There are some dark disturbing moments due to the subject matter, but nothing that seems out of place, or just there for the sake of it. I found some of the darker characters to be the most interesting, as they added such a foreboding atmosphere to the story.
Each chapter of the book begins with a small extract from The Bloodwalker Book. Bloodwalkers are those who follow the old traditions from Romania (where they’re originally from,) in order to honour the dead. The plot successfully mixes up the investigation into the missing children and the circus performers negative opinions of the Bloodwalkers.
I really enjoyed the setting of the story in Romania and Hungary. It made a nice change to have a book set in a location not often used. The pacing of the plot was spot on. It kept my interest throughout, and often surprised me with the directions it took. I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys suspense and mystery thrillers with a twist of darkness and horror.
You can find more advanced review copy (ARC) reviews of Bloodwalker here on Goodreads.
And you can find L. X. Cain online on Goodreads, Twitter, and Facebook.
Bloodwalker is available to pre-order on Amazon and will be published 4th October 2016.
As always, thank you for reading.
All the best,