Official reviews of my book
The Darkest Gift by Len Handeland is a wonderful tale that brings backstories like the Anne Rice vampire series, which I read a lot of as I grew up. It is an LGBT+ friendly novel and I loved getting to see that in a novel that features vampires. I will say that Reedsy lists it at 9000 words while Amazon has it at 225 pages, and it is a longer book.
This story is told in a more linear fashion, which I enjoyed. Instead of flashbacks and memories, we learn the story upfront and in order. The story begins when Fabien Levesque travels from his small hometown to the big city of Paris in the late 17th century. It is here he meets Stefan, the Baron of Vitre, who also happens to be a vampire. The two fall in love and quickly Stefan converts Fabien. Later on, Fabien is still in Paris and meets and falls in love with Laurent Richelieu. Stefan, in a fit of jealousy, kills Fabien. Laurent goes on to meet Jack in more modern times. The two have to work to overcome their pasts and Jack's self-loathing due to his Catholic upbringing before they can be together. And here I'll say no more to risk spoiling a most excellent story.
The author mentions in his bio that he decided to pursue writing his own stories after he read all of Anne Rice's vampire series. You can certainly see the influence of those books on his own story here. As someone who has also read Anne Rice a lot, there is a lot of overlap in their style, but Len's seems a bit more down to earth. The writing style is very well done, making the story easy to read.
This book also ticks one other positive box for me. My favorite type of vampire lore is the more traditional kind of vampire, one that brings back memories of old-school Dracula instead of the more modern Cullen family. Both have their advantages, but it comes down to personal preference. I want my vampire to smoke and burst into flames when the sun touches them, I want them to be kept at bay by garlic or crosses.
Overall, I would give this book 5 stars. I would consider it a must-read for anyone who enjoys a good vampire novel that ranks up there with Anne Rice and Dracula himself. I greatly enjoyed the time I spent reading this book and if this author keeps writing with this level of skill, I would be so glad to read anything else he writes.
THE DARKEST GIFT by Len Handeland
Fun, moving, and action-packed…
Handeland delivers plenty of plot developments, intriguing characters, and otherworldly things in his engrossing debut. Struggling with his sexuality, Jack thinks his stroke of bad luck with men and women has come to an end after he meets the enigmatic, charming Laurent Richelieu. As Jack and Laurent begin their relationship, long-buried secrets come to surface, threatening to upend Jack’s newly acquired happiness. And Laurent has his own agenda. Set against the vibrant settings of Paris and New Orleans, the story spans centuries. Recurring romance and action sequences rev up the pace, with Handeland fittingly providing intriguing details about his supernatural and human characters. Imbued with themes of revenge and spiritual love, the novel swings between tragedy and passion and reality and unreality. Handeland skillfully explores love, lust, grief, pain, and LGBTQ issues. Plenty of twists and shocking revelations lead to the frenzied final act and the gratifying conclusion. Lovers of vampire tales will be gratified.
THE DARKEST GIFT
By Len Handeland
Len Handeland’s debut novel, The Darkest Gift, now available on Amazon, is the perfect book to read on a dark and stormy night. - David Elijah-Nahmod, author, and reporter for the San Francisco Bay Times and In magazine (Toronto, Canada)