By Virtue Fall by Mark Wooden

Shadowdance saga, Book 1

Synopsis: During the Terror of the French Revolution, the Daughters of Lilith, a cult of female vampire assassins, make noblewoman Adriana Dupré one of them. They later manipulate her into killing her ancestors and set her younger sister Dominique, now also a vampire, against her. Adriana swore revenge.

The centuries passed, taking Adriana’s bloody vengeance into the modern era. She encounters Dwyer Strathan, a dark sorcerer who poses as a Hollywood bad boy. He offers her a deal: if she retrieves the three mystical relics called the Vyntari shards for him, he will give her the information she needs to destroy the Daughters and redeem her sister.

The deal sends Adriana from the soulless glamor of Los Angeles to the seedy underworld and haunted forests of Berlin. She combats werewolves, a golem and the Knights of Vyntari, warrior sorcerers charged with the protection of the shards.

The knights challenge Adriana to consider what good has come from her violent path of vengeance. Might there be another way towards salvation? And is the redemption of her sister worth giving Strathan the power of the shards – the power to enslave the world?

Review: I have mixed feelings about this one. Really, I thought I would like it, because the beginning was more than enjoyable. But around half of the book, it started going round in circles and getting more and more boring, so after much than 20% from the end I decided it was enough and skipped pages only to read the final lines, to know how all this ended.

I won’t write a summary myself because the one on the back cover is explicit enough. Actually, it even is a bit spoilery because it pretty much sums up the whole book. But for once I was glad the blurb gave out so much, because otherwise I would have quickly lost track of the storyline. Although action packed, the beginning is quite slow plotwise so it was a good thing I knew beforehand where the author wanted his story to lead, so that I didn’t feel lost.

The beginning was very interesting though! As I said before, I very much enjoyed the first half of the story. The mythology developed in this series is very interesting and diversified; you will find not only vampires but also sorcerers, werewolves, golems, etc. I also really liked the setting: it takes place in various places in the world, including France, Los Angeles, Berlin and others I forgot, but I found it really great that the story wasn’t set only in the US (not that I have anything against the US, don’t get me wrong, but almost all urban fantasy novels take place there). Also, the author mixes past and present very well, including supernatural bits in real historical events like the French Revolution or the Third Reich in Germany. It was very well done and I enjoyed that a lot.

The first half of the book is also where we get introduced to Adriana, the heroine, a ruthless vampire hungry for bloody vengeance. We get to know how she changes from the nice aristocratic girl with a love for music to this heartless creature. I didn’t like Adriana the vampire that much but I did really enjoy the flashbacks from her past.

So, what happened in the second half to make the story go so down? Well, around 40% Adriana finally makes this deal mentioned in the blurb and I thought: “awesome, now the real story is going to start!” But… no, it didn’t. Almost all this second half was about fighting, fighting, fighting and… did I mention fighting? Really, action is nice but not when it takes everything over plot development.

Also, I didn’t find many of the things that were mentioned in the blurb: the thing with Adriana’s sister seemed very important, while in the book the sister is barely mentioned. And Adriana’s meeting with the Knights of Vyntari only happens at the very end (when I had already started skipping pages). Really, what I’ll remember of the second half of this book is that Adriana fights all the time, and doesn’t mind injuring and killing people, even innocent people. That’s all.

So, in the end, I have to say I am very much disappointed with this one. The beginning was promising, but unfortunately the good first half doesn’t make up for the boring second half. This is where the plot should have developed and become even more interesting, but instead action took it all. I have an ARC of book two, but honestly, I don’t know if I will read it, given that I struggled so much to finish book one.


I recommend this book to you if: You like action (really really like it), and want to read a story with ruthless vampires.




21 thoughts on “By Virtue Fall by Mark Wooden

  1. It’s too bad that this story fizzled as it progressed, and that you got so confused at certain points that you had to refer to the blurb to keep the plot threads straight. And, it’s weird that some of the elements mentioned in the synopsis never showed up at all. What a mess!

    Carmel @ Rabid Reads.

    • In a way it was a good think the blurb spoiled so much, otherwise I’d have been completely lost, but at the same time I don’t really see the point in spoiling the whole story in the blurb. But well, it wasn’t the only thing in that book that wasn’t well executed sadly.

  2. It’s always extra disappointing when a book that starts out really strong tapers off halfway through and becomes something else entirely. I’m all for action and fighting scenes, but it’s hugely confusing (and surprisingly boring) when that’s all there is. Glad there were some things you loved in the beginning though!

  3. Oh i’m sorry this one wasn’t quite what you wanted Melliane. I love action packed books but they need to have substance or else they just seem pointless and boring 🙁 Hopefully you enjoy your next read!

  4. That sucks. And I know what you mean … I like action, but when there is too much fighting that takes away from the story, it’s not good. Don’t think this book is for me, anyway. Great review, though.

  5. Vampire assassins? That’s a new one. I was afraid it would be boring from the description. The she defeats all these things part could be cool, but it’s hard to pull off so much action. I like the mythology and world history parts, but anti heroes have to have something about them that I like, so I care about them and root for them. Nice review! 🙂

  6. The many unique settings and past and future time frames sounds like something I would enjoy and would have caught my attention as well. But, I need a stronger ending. I love a good quest/fight, but not an endless one. Sorry that the story was disappointing in the end. Thanks for the thoughful review though 🙂

  7. gah I hate when that happens, luckily it happens very rarely for me, but recently too happened. Story started out great then everything went kind of downhill and so much time invested!

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