The fascination of the mob with modern vampire tales seems nearly endless. I have no doubt that publishing houses are being inundated with Twilight-esque manuscripts seeking to tap into the vampire craze that is only the highest crest to date in the past two decades of growing mania. And, in all honesty, I must admit to my own love affair with the works of Laurell K. Hamilton (when the series was still readable) before my spiritual rebirth. As a result, my interest was piqued upon learning of Eric Wilson’s Field of Blood, the first in a trilogy of Christian vampire novels.
While a Christian vampire novel may sound like an oxymoron to the uninitiated; Wilson’s steers clear of the human-vamp love stories, the myth of the good yet misunderstood vampire, and other pro-vampire plot-lines. His creatures are borne of the unholy mingling of the blood of Judas Iscariot, a disturbed tomb, and the eagerly waiting disembodied Akeladama cluster: a group of Collectors who were once driven into a herd of pigs by the Son of Man. In short — these vampires are, in truth, demons possessing undead hosts, bent upon serving their master, creating pain, and plotting against a hidden group of believers — the Nistarim.
As the newly animated Collectors seek to set the wheels of destruction in motion, a tough young woman named Gina Lazarescu is growing up in Romania. Subject to ritual bloodlettings from her superstitious mother, the appearance of a strange mark on her forehead seems to trigger her rescue from the advancing Collectors by a mysterious yet familiar man.
Field of Blood effectively combines mystery and resistance against evil with the Judeo-Christian maxim that life is in the blood, with Jesus’ proving to be the ultimate elixir. The Collectors for example, seek to sate themselves upon human blood, yet are never satisfied. Knowing that Jesus’ blood forever satisfies, they are tempted to feed upon Those Who Resist (believers), yet must restrain themselves, as this act would lead to their destruction.
Wilson is laying much groundwork in this first novel for the rest of the trilogy, as a result the story is slow to start. With details from Gina’s childhood, the early voyages of the Akeladama cluster, and introductions to other characters eating a lot of pages, it’s only in the last quarter of the book that the pace picks up and we start to see a more traditional vampire-hunting theme emerge in the series.
Interestingly, the majority of the book’s characters are not themselves believers. Only Cal Nichols, Gina’s mysterious benefactor, displays faith in God in this first novel; his efforts to recruit others to the cause of Those Who Resist are universally met with disinterest. Still, with the entire framework of the story built upon a biblical worldview with some paranormal speculation thrown in, it clearly bears the marks of a Christian novelist.
Serving mainly as a stepping-stone to the second novel — the recently released Haunt of Jackals — at book’s end we’re left with a cliffhanger just as the action ramps up. Queasy readers will want to pass on the series due to the typically vampiric blood-binges, but those looking for a series of novels that place the undead in the only realm they can properly be assigned to (that of evil) will find food for thought here.
Having already read the second book in the series, I believe the Jerusalem’s Undead Trilogy is worth sticking with. In fact, it may even be worth a second read through once Wilson’s remaining plot twists are disclosed.