Reviewed by Sandra Scholes
Some stories are filled with horror and dread, while some have an atmosphere about them that seems to suit the subject matter at hand. In Ulrika the Vampire Bloodforged, Nathan Long continues his story with a sequel telling the life of Ulrika, a vampire who did no want to be so, but who strove to be a better vampire than she once was. Though Ulrika is a vampire, she is not one of the bad kind, and most regular vampires don’t take steps to tame themselves the way she does, but in her case, she has to as she doesn’t want to attract an angry mob of humans who might bay for her head. The vampires along with Ulrika have their own willing victims who lend their blood to them, so they do not have to kill senselessly.
When Ulrika visits Praag, she finds a dangerous presence there, a Slaaneshi cult that threatens to destroy all they have come to know. Interestingly enough, there is a lot to be discovered about how vampires operate in this novel, as when humans are made into vampires, they have to undergo certain changes afterward. The usual ones apply, teeth, and eyes, but they also get the newborn vampires to change their appearance, dye their hair or blonde it, dress it in a different way and change the clothing. The countess also organizes them to go under different names, and this is necessary cover as they do not want anyone to find out these men or women have become vampires.
Ulrika as a vampire often feels walled-up and stifled by Gabriella and the other vampires. She wants to be free of their oppression, but dare not go against the wishes of her mistress. She had fondness for a man she was supposed to make her blood slave, or as they are called in here, swaine, but Ulrika preferred him as he was before. Ulrika is naturally defiant and curious but she does have a point as to going out of her mistress’s house; her mistress denies freedom of most of her vampires, yet she and trusted members of the Lahmian order are allowed to accompany her wherever she goes on business. To this end, Ulrika is prevented from living what she considers a full life, even when Gabriella promises that she will have the freedom she desires later. By the sound of it, it will be many years later, and she isn’t prepared to stay in the house while she goes crazy. Even the promise of young men whores to feed on and women to entertain them is of small consolation for the newly made Ulrika who still maintains that a coffin is still a coffin no matter how you try and dress it up.
The whole matter of swain is in dispute with her, but not the others; in fact only one other vampire sees eye to eye with Ulrika, Famke. Vampires in her court enjoy the benefit of swain, they can be fed upon at any time, but Ulrika finds them repulsive, they have their appeal to others when they fawn over their mistresses, but she would rather they had their own minds and personalities.
Gabriella’s reluctance to let Ulrika have her friend, Famke around her, and the fact she keeps her inside is enough to make her want to escape, but where will she go if she does.
It is great that the front cover depicts Ulrika in her riding garb, a gift from Gabriella, She looks so fierce, and fearless. The background image of Kislev also makes it an interesting piece of artwork by Winona Nelson.
Bloodforged is an eerie sequel to a very atmospheric and haunting first book. This novel has timing, presence, pacing, atmosphere and horror in abundance, yet you can understand why the characters act the way they do.