The Midnight Guardian, by Sara Jane Stratford, is based on a premise that I think took a lot of balls to actually write. It’s set in Britain and England between 1938 and 1940. The German war machine is gearing up to invade, and the rest of the world seems to be waiting and watching to see what happens. So far so good. The chutzpah comes in when Stratford’s main characters come on stage. They’re vampires. Not only that, but they’re out to try and destroy the Reich. So yeah. Balls.
It takes a while to settle into this book, because Stratford chose to have to have two settings in two different timelines. On one side, you get the main character’s lover, in Britain, who spends most of the book worrying about Brigit, the main character. Brigit gets two timelines. We meet her in 1940, on a train between Berlin and Basel. The other timeline starts in 1938 and catches up to the 1940 timeline. To be honest, I’m not sure about the author’s choices in the structure of this book. If you want to build up tension–and I would think you would, given that this is a sort of spy novel–why would you let the reader know that the character is going to survive this or that brush with death?
Now that I’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about the plot. Brigit’s cadre of vampires learns from refugees that the Nazis are wiping out vampires along with their other historical targets. So they decide that five of them are enough to take out the Reich. (You see what I mean about chutzpah?) The five make their way to Berlin and start making useful contacts and try to gather information.
You know the drill. If you don’t want to know what happens, stop reading now and skip to the end of the post.
Which leads to another problem. Their grand plan doesn’t go anywhere. The five are not very proactive. All they seem to manage are a couple of massacres and to steal information about the invasion of France. I don’t know why Stratford didn’t go whole hog and just let the vampires change history. It would have been a more successful book for it, I think. Since they don’t accomplish much of anything in their big plan, The Midnight Guardian just feels like a let down. Which is a shame, because this could have been a great, gutsy book.
*END OF SPOILERS*
I’m not sure I can really recommend this book. While I’m curious to see if Stratford turns this into a series, I wouldn’t buy the book. There are some serious structural and plot problems with the book that make me doubt the writer. On the plus side, I do appreciate her imaginative premise.