To the outside world Lily Ayres is the privileged daughter of an old moneyed family. She is young, beautiful, and a talented horsewoman. All of which are enviably qualities, but few know that beneath this thin veneer of societal perfection lies a deeply troubled young woman. For Lily rarely speaks and is incapable of normal, human interaction.
Unable to understand why she is this way, she further retreats inside herself, until memories and suppressed emotions begin to bubble to the surface. Murder, revelations of her family’s hidden purpose and dark secrets are revealed as she is thrust into the supernatural world of Krieger Barnes, Vampire King of North America.
Walter Ayers, the last son of one of Virginia’s old money families, owns a massive home on a sprawling estate, complete with it’s own cemetery and a whole wing that is forbidden to enter. Its summer, but a fire burns in the secret library’s hearth for the pleasure of a guest. Walter is a member of a secret order, the ‘keeper’ assigned to the King of North America, and Krieger Barnes has come to hear an odd request. The aging man is dying and fears his clandestine life will bring harm to his daughter, so he asks the king to take his daughter. In 2000 years, Krieger has never brought a human into his court. He is reluctant to do so now, but it is strange of a human father to offer his daughter to a vampire, and he’s intrigued.
Rebecca Trogner has an unusual voice that blends simple prose with stream of consciousness. This works particularly well with her lead female, Lily Ayers, a timid woman with the character traits of autism. She is highly intelligent, but timid, selectively mute, and highly sensitive to sound. Also, she can remember every face she’s ever seen and where she’s seen them, a talent she considers a curse and thus avoids meeting new people. We learn a lot about Lily in her first scene as she arrives a friend’s store at a scheduled time to be closed, uses the back door because the front has bells, and counts her steps to avoid a creaky board in the floor. Lily’s friends, accustomed to interacting with her over years, help her communicate to the reader who she is under the skin by responding to her body language.
In the first chapter, Krieger Barnes comes across as cold, calculating man. Born during the reign of Augustus Caesar, he’s born witness to the depths of what people are capable, human and otherwise. Like Joss Whedon’s Angel, these experiences have shaped Krieger into a man who is both a cold killer and yet just to fault. Unlike Angel, he has always had a soul. He is cautious regarding his personal relationships but not uncaring, and the author provides many ways for the reader to relate, even empathize, with the vampire king.
The Last Keeper’s Daughter is a mystery, as the first chapter clearly suggests, one that spans several generations of the Ayers Family and culminating within Lily herself. She is special, something between human and “Other,” and also more than both. The danger lays in the fact that Krieger and his inner circle, (a witch, a wolf shifter, and a slayer), are not the only people who know. Still, as much as Krieger is bound by blood and primal instinct to protect Lily, he cannot keep her caged to ensure it. The clues are specific to her, one, and two, she bristles at being treated as a child. So, solving the puzzle that is Lily and winning her love can only be accomplished if Krieger gives up his need to control every circumstance. It would try the patience of most men, let alone an ancient vampire king.
Given the stream of consciousness aspect, I feel that prose could have been stronger if the author had used deep third POV. Also, and it was possibly just overlooked in editing, but second person POV pulled me out of the narration on two occasions. But, the minor issues of voice aside, I very much enjoyed The Last Keeper’s Daughter. The story is intriguing. The characters are captivating, each with allure and mystery. The plot gives us a crack into a much larger story and all the implements necessary to rip the world wide open. I’m looking forward to the next book.