Rating: 4.75 stars
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Bitter and tortured, Nicholas Robinson suffers daily from the accident that left him crippled and less than a man in his own eyes. A virtual recluse, Nicholas has confined himself to his home, the estate of Grantley, immersed in his experiments and mostly hidden in his laboratory with only his staff, his elderly Grand-Mamma, and his prodigy Martha for company. When he receives an offer for the purchase of Grantley, Nicholas begins dreaming on a future of invisibility, a time to start over where no one knows of him and his plight. If the offer is true.
Vârkolak (made vampire) Bancroft Ulwin has lived a long painful life – three hundred years to be exact. With the murder of his human lover so soon after his transition, his maker, Sebastian of the highly feared Old Ones, forbade him to spend any more than one night with any human. Three hundred years of torture and punishment at the hands of Sebastian taught Ban to fear the Old One. But when he meets Nicholas Robinson, master of Grantley, everything changes. Something about the crippled, broken man attracts Ban. And though he risks pain and possibly death, Ban can’t leave the man alone.
When a threat to Martha forces Nicholas to make a deal with Ban, trading his life for the girl’s, Nicholas is resigned to his fate, hoping for a quick and painless death. But the more time Ban spends with Nicholas, the harder it is to ignore the signs that Nicholas is, in fact, his beloved Fino who was murdered at the hands of his master nearly three hundred years ago. Choosing Nicholas is most assuredly a death sentence, but Ban refuses to walk away from the stubborn man he hasn’t been able to forget across the decades. Their only hope is to find the mystery, the Vessel Sebastian seeks within Grantley, in order to trade their lives for the supposed treasure. Now they must figure out what the Vessel is and hope that Sebastian doesn’t kill them before they find it.
I love this book. I love it. I love it. I love it! T. Baggins’ Soulless is a horror with a Bram Stoker/Anne Rice feel. It’s sexy and scary and perfect. There are so many parts to this story – the romance, the horror, the individual stories and histories of Nicholas and Ban, even Sebastian – yet not one thing overshadows another. The story itself is beautifully balanced.
Okay…where to start? So first and foremost, I love Nicholas and Ban. Nicholas is a broken, tortured man who wallows in self-pity. He’s a drunk with only one focus, his experiments and disproving vitalism. He’s bitter, angry, and mostly selfish. Until Ban. Bancroft Ulwin is a vampire who has lived three hundred years for the monster that made him, afraid to disobey, afraid of punishment. Ban finds himself when he finds Nicholas. In a sense they each find themselves and heal one another when they find each other. They are perfect together. I definitely wanted more of both men.
And it doesn’t end there. The villains in this book, Sebastian and the Brethren, even the stories of the Old Ones, incite fear upon readers. The evil permeating Sebastian is almost palpable every single time he’s on page. The occult of the Brethren worshipping and revering the vile creature just adds to the intrigue of the story. And the stories of the Old Ones – the most feared, most powerful monsters in all creation, add darkness and tension to the story. See, even the villains are perfect in this book.
The world that Baggins creates is reminiscent of the old historical vampire novels and movies. But there’s more to it. This author has taken a classical horror world and added to it. The history of the Old Ones intermingled with the divine and angels. The existence of qi and its significance to made vampires. A world complete with reincarnation. And maybe a little bit of the otherworldly/alien kind. That last may look odd in combination with the rest, but trust me, it works. As a whole the world of Soulless is utterly fantastic. Baggins leaves nothing to the imagination, enthralling readers by each new and creative aspect of this world.
And finally this story. I’m afraid to go into too much detail in fear of giving all of the secrets away. Technically, this story is written flawlessly and paced perfectly. Plot-wise, this story is awesome. I’m not sure there is another word for it. From the pre-destined romance, to the scarily beautiful horror, to the heart-pounding mystery, everything about this story draws me in. And the unexpected ending is perfect. Made me want to throw my kindle across the room screaming at the injustice of it all. Okay, maybe not that dramatic, but it is a very emotionally filled, heart-breakingly bittersweet ending. I only wish it would have been longer.
Here, I should advise you readers that this is a not a book of pretty, fluffy love. There are several scenes of difficult subject matter within this story – scenes of graphic violence, scenes of dubious consent, and possible rape, to name a few. In my opinion, each scene thought painful and heart-breaking brings a different level of emotional depth and feeling to the story.
As you can see, I loved this book. The characters are wonderfully written. The world is creative and imaginative. And the story is perfect. I love everything about this book, and I’m not at all surprised as everything I’ve read from this author intrigues me and draws me in. I cannot wait to see what she has coming up in the future. I highly recommend Soulless by T. Baggins.