Release Date: February 15, 2023
Book Length: 258 pages
Author: Bryan Asher
Bryan on X: @Asher_Author
Author Site:
Book Links: Amazon | Goodreads


All the Waywards have Fallen…

After a mission against the Royal Vampiric Court goes horribly wrong, all of the Waywards are slaughtered.

All except one.

Davion, the last surviving member, must consume potions to mask himself and hide amongst the very people who killed his brethren. After a decade of living this double-life, Davion has resigned himself to his new purgatory. But all will not remain calm for him or the Court.

An unknown swordsman arrives, and after killing several Royal Vampires, rumor spreads that he’s searching for anyone still belonging to The Wayward order.

Davion decides he must track down this mysterious swordsman. But will finding him bring freedom or his own demise.


I'll admit that what originally drew me to The Fear of Moncroix is the incredible cover art by Los Angeles artist Christian Angel.

Here, have a better look at this stunning piece

I think that plus the fact that Bryan Asher entered SPFBO9 put this one on my TBR. So, amazing art (including several interior pieces by the same artist) and a SPFBO9 entrant. Beyond that, I had no idea what I was getting into.

Turns out, it's a fast-paced vampire revenge thriller. And a bite-sized one at that – I read the majority of this book during a single plane ride from Tampa to Philadelphia...last July. Yikes, I am very behind on some reviews! As I've simply waited too long to write this, I don't have my fresh thoughts from reading it. But I did take some notes and can talk about what stuck with me about the book after these 7-ish months.

The story is primarily told from the perspectives of two opposing figures. The first is Davion, who is a Wayward, member of a secretive order of fighters that has been almost entirely wiped out trying to infiltrate the Vampiric Court. After all his friends are killed, he has no choice but to stay undercover, and eventually gives up on trying to complete his original mission.

The second is Carneth, son of a dead Wayward who is searching for the order. He's in possession of a magical artifact and wants to return it to the Waywards to keep a promise to his father. We bounce back and forth between his chapters and Davion's, and it's clear early on that these two are on a collision course. I liked this, as it kept the story moving along and gave a sense of progression as each POV set up for their conflict with the other.

At first, I also thought there was going to be a third perspective, as a chapter started with another character before suddenly switching to Davion's POV when he entered the scene. Eventually, I realized a lot of chapters start like this: begin with a separate perspective before switching to one of the main characters. It took a bit to get used to, but it helped the story move quickly and gave us some interiority from many different characters despite being a short book.

A very short book, I should say. Like I said, the book is bite-sized. At just over 250 small pages, it's not quite as short as a novella, but you can still probably read this in an afternoon. There are benefits and drawbacks to this. It's nice to be able to take in a whole story in a single sitting. But it also means that many things have to be condensed – it really limits the depth of the story that can be told.

One thing that held me back from enjoying this even more was that we didn't get much time dedicated to character development. Relationships are glossed over pretty quickly, and while I appreciated the lack of hand-holding, I did wish there was a bit more time spent exploring the depths of these relationships. The plot moved so quickly, I found it hard to become attached to anyone. This is just a preference of mine, of course. If you're looking for a quick, entertaining read, this might be just the book for you.

It had many unique elements that kept me enjoying the story, even if it wasn't exactly what I was looking for. Some of the worldbuilding around the Vampiric Court is fantastic. The court is so powerful that they have human farms, which they call blood orchards, and they process blood into all sorts of food like wine and pastries. It's an interesting take on vampire culture, making them more sophisticated and industrious than what I normally see.

The setting is also part of a chain of floating islands called the Intercontinents. There are two other standalone books that take place in this wider setting, and from what I understand, each one has its own genre. This one was fantasy horror, another is post-apocalyptic, and the third is medieval fantasy. Pretty cool idea, and there are some references to other islands in this book that might add some more depth to the story for you if you've read Asher's other works.

In sum, the book's length made this a swift and engaging read, with some excellent action and intriguing worldbuilding elements, exemplified by its depiction of a sophisticated vampiric society, complete with all kinds of scheming and backstabbing among the most powerful vampires. The Fear of Moncroix may not delve into the extensive depths of its characters, but it compensates with a compelling plot and an innovative take on vampire lore, making it a worthwhile read for those interested in a fresh take on fantasy horror.

3.5/5 ⭐

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