Sandlin’s second outing in The Penton Legacy saga brings back familiar characters and introduces a heroine with a secret that post-pandemic vampires want to use for their own ends. Picking up shortly after the events of the first story, Absolution is a fun and fast-paced read loaded with well-developed characters and believable, fully realized settings. This is one of those rare sequels that almost outshines its predecessor, and readers who haven’t read Redemption are brought up to speed quickly.
Once known as the Slayer, vampire Mirren Kincaid was a brutal — and imaginative — hired assassin for the Vampire Tribunal in Penton, Ala. After a particularly questionable assignment, Mirren fled the council’s service, disappearing for 200 years. When he finally emerges from his self-imposed exile, he’s determined to act as a protector for Penton. But the tribunal won’t let him go that easily, especially when the vampire world is a hair’s breadth away from a civil war over the lack of untainted human blood.
Councilman Matthias Ludlam comes up with a plan: He kidnaps human Gloriana Cummings, the descendant of a shaman, with the hope that she can unleash Mirren’s bloodlust. But when Glory, a stubborn woman who’s had a hard life, meets the former Slayer, he’s not what she expected. Revealing her telekinetic powers to Mirren, Glory learns that beneath his stubbornness the big vamp has a soft heart and is hurting from centuries of self-torture. Finding an unlikely ally in Will Ludlam, Matthias’ son, and scathe founder Aidan Murphy, Glory and Mirren battle to establish peaceful coexistence between humans and vampires. (MONTLAKE, Oct., 330 pp., $12.95)