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Overview

After Rulers of Darkness, Kirkus Reviews proclaimed, “Spruill has a grip on the medical suspense/horror novel far firmer than Robin Cook’s,” while Library Journal stated, “Both mystery and horror fans will enjoy this intelligent and suspenseful thriller.” Now Spruill is back with Daughter of Darkness, blurring the borders between myth and reality to spin a novel of unearthly thirst.

Dr. Jenn Hrluska is young, beautiful, and everyone’s choice ...
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Daughter of Darkness

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Overview

After Rulers of Darkness, Kirkus Reviews proclaimed, “Spruill has a grip on the medical suspense/horror novel far firmer than Robin Cook’s,” while Library Journal stated, “Both mystery and horror fans will enjoy this intelligent and suspenseful thriller.” Now Spruill is back with Daughter of Darkness, blurring the borders between myth and reality to spin a novel of unearthly thirst.

Dr. Jenn Hrluska is young, beautiful, and everyone’s choice for best intern at Washington, D.C.’s Adams Memorial hospital. When she finds the freshly killed body of a stranger on her doorstep, her initial shock turns to an irresistible thirst for the blood surrounding the body, for Jenn is a hemophage: her life depends on feeding on the blood of “normals.” Until now, Jenn has survived by transfusing blood from sleeping victims, harmlessly. With bone-chilling certainty, she recognizes that this body has been left as an invitation to reclaim her destiny of taking blood by deadly force. And only one person would have left the body for her—her father, Zane.

Jenn’s grandfather, Merrick, sealed Zane in a tomb ten years ago to end his murderous rampages. Since then Jenn has pursued her life, ignoring her true nature. But now Zane has escaped and begun to insinuate himself into Jenn’s world. Beginning with cruel pranks to remind her of his powers, Zane soon commits a murder that brings Jenn to the brink of exposure—or death. Unjustly imprisoned for murder, and facing the possibility of dying without a supply of fresh blood, Jenn decides she must escape and use her unearthly powers to defeat Zane once and for all.

As father and daughter confront each other, however, Jenn realizes that the love that links them might just be as imperishable as the deadly curse they share.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The alloy of medical thriller and vampire chiller that Spruill forged in Rulers of Darkness (1995) proves not only strong but durable as this sequel reprises its predecessor's dramatic conflicts. Ten years have passed since detective Merrick Chapman buried his son, Zane, alive in a concrete vault to stop the murder sprees that threatened to disclose the family's curse of hemophagic leukemia, Spruill's clever medical term for vampirism. Zane's daughter Jenn, now a highly regarded intern at a D.C. hospital who's in a happy relationship with novelist Hugh McCall, controls her own vampirism by harmlessly siphoning blood from sleeping people. Suddenly, however, a series of pranks clearly intended to arouse her bloodlust reveals that Zane has escaped and is determined to use her as a pawn against her grandfather. With skill and subtlety, Spruill orchestrates several suspenseful challenges that force Jenn to walk the tightrope between divulging her true nature to unsuspecting human associates or throwing in her lot with her father. His credible rendering of supernatural beings as members of a dysfunctional family with conflicting ideas about how to manage their problems shows a delightfully oddball sense of topicality, yet he is never less than sympathetic and balanced in his portrayal. Despite several stray subplots and an ending that leaves the door open for further adventures for its hemophage heavies, this novel is that rare example of a sequel as memorable as its predecessor. (June)
Library Journal
This sequel to Rulers of Darkness (LJ 7/95) focuses on Jenn Hrluska, a young resident physician in Washington, D.C., who is a "hemophaege"an immortal being with human strength who must subsist on human blood. Jenn's father, Zane, from whom she inherited the gene that allowed her transformation from human to hemophaege, turned her into this vampiric being. With the help of her grandfather, a retired police detective (and fellow hemophaege), she chooses to take blood through a transfusion process that does not harm mortals. But Zane wants her to be like him and most other "phaeges"a killer who enjoys the thrill of taking human life through drinking the victim's blood. Much of this novel revolves around the bitter contest between Jenn and Zane, but the tension that made Rulers of Darkness such fast-paced reading is less strong here. The first part of the book moves slowly, although things pick up toward the end. Recommended where Spruill is popular.Patricia Altner, Information Seekers, Bowie, Md.
School Library Journal
YA--Fans of both the horror and medical suspense genres will enjoy this tale. Dr. Jenn Hrluska, a beautiful, talented intern at a Washington, DC, hospital, is a hemophage: a genetic defect requires that she feed on human blood to survive. In this sequel to Rulers of Darkness, Spruill tells the riveting story of Jenn's affection for her grandfather, Merrick, who raised her to transfuse blood harmlessly from sleeping victims to feed her hunger. He has decided that he no longer wishes to live the immortal life of a hemophage, so he takes special transfusions that will allow him to grow old with his present wife. As a police detective, Merrick hunted the deadly hemophages, including his own son, but now he is no longer a match for Zane's powers. When Zane escapes from his father's underground prison and vows revenge, Jenn must choose between them. YAs will enjoy this fast-moving variation on the traditional vampire tale and its many subplots. One of Jenn's young patients is dying of leukemia; a fellow intern plants drugs in her locker to get her fired; Jenn's new boyfriend experiences odd hallucinations that make her fear he may be "phage" as well; and an overly curious television reporter stalks Jenn and almost reveals her family's secret to the world. Perhaps, most of all, YAs will identify with Jenn's emotional turmoil as she untangles her complex feelings for a father who asks her to return to a "natural" but deadly life with him; and a grandfather who believes that she can transcend that life and care for the children of the world.--Pat Bangs, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Kirkus Reviews
Sequel to Spruill's Rulers of Darkness (1995), a fresh medical suspense/horror novel and the start of a new series about hemophages (bloodeaters) in the District of Columbia.

Again, Spruill gives himself a hospital setting to work with—though the various medical analyses of vampire blood and other occult arcana, touched on in that earlier novel, are unsurprising. Nor does the plot leap forward as electrically as in Rulers. With historical background no longer new, the story focuses now on a 500-year-old hemophage's revenge on his father, himself a thousand-year-old bloodeater. Ten years have passed since the action in Rulers. D.C. homicide detective Merrick Chapman has retired, having married hematologist Katie O'Keefe and fathered a nonhemophagic son with her. Several hundred years before, Merrick turned on his kind and began locking fellow vampires up in vaults from which they could not escape and in which they eventually starved to death. To help locate bloodthirsty hemophages, who disguise their trails, Merrick turned to law enforcement and became adept at picking out vampiric victims from other homicides. His greatest enemy now is his son Zane, who refuses to be turned from vampirism. Ten years ago, Merrick confined Zane in an escape-proof vault, where he should have died after two years without feeding. But in some mysterious manner Zane has now escaped and is out to return his daughter, Jenny Hrluska, to the bloodlust natural to her. Jenny, however, now 22 and the youngest intern ever at Adams Memorial, wants to save lives, not take them. She sides with her grandfather Merrick, who hopes to die a normal death along with his wife Katie (he has watched 16 wives and 43 children grow old and die). But then Zane commits a murder attributed to Jenny, trying to force her back into the fold and to lure his father to his destruction.

Less energy and richly layered excitement than before, but still notable in its field.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307820334
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/13/2012
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,134,382
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Steven Spruill is the author of Painkiller, Before I Wake, My Soul to Take, and Rulers of Darkness, which introduced the characters in Daughter of Darkness. He lives in Arlington, Virginia.
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Read an Excerpt

Racing up the stairwell to the seventh floor, Merrick ignored the burn in his legs. When he was almost to Jenn's door, it opened and he saw first her, then the body, the torn throat. He flung an arm up to cover his eyes, but too late, as the hunger raged to life in him. The slick of blood seized him with a gravity so fierce he could not back away. So fresh, still shiny, that wonderful smell! He stared at it, horrified, and yet drawn, fighting the urge to fall to his knees and lap the blood from the floor. Here was his nightmare, the thing he'd feared most for Jenn, and--even now--he, too, could not escape the pull of blood.

Hurrying to him, Jenn drew him into a hug. "Merrick, thank God you're here."

"Oh, Jenn, no."

She stepped back, as if slapped. "It wasn't me. I didn't do that."

He saw in her face she was telling the truth. Relief swept him. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry." He held out his hands to her. She took them and said it was all right, but her stiffness told him she was still indignant. He understood: ever since the change she had fought this thing, had never lost; he'd just insulted her pride.

But pride was a danger to them. It made the wall they had built against their own bloodthirsty natures seem thicker than it was.

"Merrick, I'm scared." Jenn glanced fearfully at the body, then away. "I can't make any sense out of this."

I'm scared too, Merrick thought. He could feel it, now--a new fear, tying an icy knot in his throat. This was too much like what had happened ten years ago, the bloody corpse Zane had flung like a gauntlet at his feet. Zane was dead, it was inconceivable he could be alive,and yet, someone had done this.

Someone who thinks like my son.

The coldness in Merrick's throat spread down into his chest, a suffocating feeling of dread. He fought it off. He must be calm now, and rational. There had to be some other explanation and he must find it.

He drew Jenn with him deeper into the apartment, as far from the corpse as they could get. Keeping his back to the dead woman, he made sure he blocked Jenn's view. "Tell me everything you know," he said.

"I worked a triple shift. I was gone for twenty-four hours. When I got home, she was there."

"The door?"

"Locked, just as I'd left it."

"Know her?"

"Never seen her before. And there's no purse, no ID on her. I have absolutely no idea who she could be."

"You searched the apartment?"

"Of course. No one is here. As far as I can tell, nothing was touched."

"Leave any windows open?"

"No, and none were."

"How long since you found her?"

"About an hour."

Merrick's fear eased a little. "At least it's not a setup. Whoever did this wouldn't give you that much time before he rang the police down on you."

"What are we going to do?"

"I have to look at her again now, and I want you to help me, do you understand?"

Jenn frowned. "You're afraid you might drink?"

"The blood is still quite fresh. Surely you want it too."

She flushed. "I didn't take any. I...I did think of it, though. I mean, she was dead when I found her. For a minute, all I could think was that her blood had already drained out, that it was no use to her anymore, and what difference would it make? But then I realized it might compromise me, weaken me."

Might? She was scaring him again. She should not have let herself even think about it. "I'm glad you didn't take any," he said.

The green eyes, so like her father's, warmed in a way Zane's could not have. "You won't drink either," she said confidently.

"All the same, I want you to be ready to pull me off."

"What if you're too strong?"

"I'm not. Not anymore."

Returning to the corpse, he crouched, conscious of Jenn's hand on his shoulder. The desire to lunge at the torn throat swept through him, far stronger than he'd have expected.

He studied her, lying there, arms to the sides, palms up, feet together. Bodies did not fall that way. Hers had not been carelessly dropped. The palms-up hands seemed to be saying, I surrender. Come to me. Nothing sexual in it--he'd seen the leavings of necrophiles, the nakedness, the ghastly poses, too many times to be mistaken. This woman was fully dressed, the hem of her skirt chastely at the knee.

No, the invitation here was to come and drink.

Steeling himself, Merrick studied the ravaged throat. No knife had done this. The throat had been stripped down by human teeth--in a frenzy, perhaps, but one guided by instinctive knowledge of how best to drain not just the carotids and jugulars, but the rich network of capillaries that serviced the trachea and esophagus. Merrick's heart sank.

Zane? he wondered again. No, it just couldn't be.

But still, one of us.

He stood and stumbled backward a step, feeling Jenn's hands steady him, turning toward her as he found his footing. He was sweating--welcome enough as another sign the injections were working, but now it unnerved him, driving home his deterioration. I'm too far gone for this, he thought.

So you'll just have to roll back the clock for the next few hours.

"Do you think it was a hemophage?" she asked.

"Has to be."

"Then we can't call the police."

Merrick was surprised to find himself weighing it. Ten years ago, he would have agreed. He knew the police. They would tell themselves this woman had been killed by a psycho, a vicious maniac who thought he was a vampire. But some would wonder if there wasn't something more--especially those who had been around ten years ago when Zane had left the body so much like this one at the National Cathedral. Then, the medical examiner had found a few drops of Zane's blood, and it had been a very near thing. The murders had never been solved; interest had died away, but he knew the matter was filed, not forgotten. If the police see this woman, Merrick thought, they'll blow the dust off those old files and pick up the trails I worked so hard to bury. This time they might make it all the way.

But would that be so bad?

"Merrick? Don't tell me you're actually considering it."

The alarm in Jenn's voice caught him. Even if his own survival instinct was fading, along with so much else, hers was not.

"Of all of us," he said, "you are the only one with clean hands, the only one who does not deserve to die."

"You don't know that." She stared at him. "Maybe there are others of us who don't kill. And if we're discovered, think how many normals would die. They'd panic. Even after they learned how to detect us, for every phage they managed to bury, thousands of them would die--far more than now."

He went to her window and looked out across Washington. The night sky glowed with the lights of the city he had once protected. Some trick of the humidity tainted the glow red, as though the capital were sinking beneath a mist of its own blood. Jenn was right. It was one thing for him to choose mortality and quite another to risk condemning thousands of others to death. And what could the police do? Any cop who got close to the creature who had done this would be damn unlucky.

"Poor woman," Jenn said.

He turned from the window, afraid she was looking at the body, but she had covered her face with both hands.

"She must have family," Jenn went on, "maybe a husband or boyfriend. By tomorrow, they'll be worried about her, then scared, then terrified. We can't call the police, but we can't just take her out and bury her somewhere. How long would her people go on looking, never finding her, never having peace again?"

"Let's take this one step at a time. Before we do anything else, we've got to clean up this blood." Merrick glanced at the red lake, and saw with relief that its surface had dulled, and with it, his desire. "It's starting to dry out--I think we'll be all right now."

"I'll get a mop and some buckets."

When the floor around the corpse was dry, Merrick lifted the body and Jenn cleaned beneath it. The dead woman was light, as though the blood had contained everything of substance in her. He felt the old sorrow he'd tried to leave behind when, ten years ago, he'd ended his long career in police work. It was hard to grasp that there was no longer anyone inside this woman. The eyes still had a faint sheen. For a second, he saw Zane reflected in them, and the skin between his shoulder blades rippled with dread--but no, it was his own face, captured there in the dead eyes.

What is your name? Merrick silently asked the corpse. I want to return you to your loved ones, but I have to know your name.

Setting her down again, he rolled her to one side and pulled her dress away from the nape of her neck, searching the stained fabric, the Rorschach blot of dried blood. No laundry marks. Had the killer removed them along with her purse?

Or was the dress too new?

The label, also darkened with blood, was still readable. Nordstrom. He let himself hope. "That rug in your bedroom," he said to Jenn. "It's about six by eight, right?"

"Right."

She brought it to him and he wrapped the dead woman up in it. "You'd better be the one to carry her down," he said. "If you run into anyone, a woman will arouse less suspicion. I'll bring my car around. The trunk should be plenty big if we bend her a little."

"Where are we going?"

"The Pentagon City mall."

Jenn gave him a searching look. "Why won't you tell me what we're going to do?"

"I don't yet know if it will work." True enough, but not the real truth, and when she seemed to accept it, he felt a pang of guilt.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2001

    Awsome bok!!

    The sequel to Rulers of Darkness, this book mainly focuses on Jenn. What she is going through- relationships, internship at a hospital, and her past. The story begins where Jenn is finishing off a shift at the hospital she works at. Jenn makes her way home and finds a dead body in her front hallway. Somebody had broken into her apartment and left this. But not to frame her, somebody left it as a gift. Ment for Jenn to feed off of. Quickly she calls her grandfather Merrick, another hemophage, and together they get ride of the body. Eventually they visit the vault Jenn's father, Zane, was sealed in ten years ago. The vault is empty! This action-packed science-fiction thriller keeps you guessing and gasping until the end. How did Zane escape? Did he leave the body? And will he be back? You must read to find out!

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