A few months ago the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance read and reviewed Immanuel’s Veins by Ted Dekker. This was one of the times that I didn’t receive the book in time to read it before the tour dates, though I found I still had something to say about the book anyway, fulfilling my obligation for the free book from the publisher.
But now I have finally read the book, and am mulling over what I’ve read. The story is the first person tale of Toma Nicolescu, a warrior in the service of Catherine the Great, empress of Russia during the Russo-Turkish War in 1772. It is also the third person account of Lucine Cantemir, the woman Catherine sent Toma to protect. But Toma doesn’t know what he is to protect Lucine from.
Lucine lives with her mother and sister in Castle Cantemir in Moldavia. All three women had led a life of wanton sexuality, but Lucine had learned a few things to give her a more mature outlook on life. Toma falls for the beautiful Lucine but cannot speak because of his oath to his empress.
Soon a strange group of Russians visits from a nearby castle, led by one Vlad van Valerik. Toma seems the only one to be suspicious of these smooth-talking, enticing men and women, but he’s not certain it isn’t just his jealousy at work. Lucine’s sister succumbs immediately to their charm, and the next morning Toma finds her with blood on her face and no memory of what happened, other than it was wonderful.
Various of them visit the nearby castle, and Toma discovers the Russians to be inhuman. One who had died is now alive again. They also have a taste for blood, and Toma himself nearly succumbs. But when Vlad van Valerik begins to woo Lucine, Toma senses true danger and begins to act.
That’s about all of the plot I’m willing to give away. I’ll just say that (to me) that first part of the book took too long, seemed too slow. Things definitely picked up after that, and took some surprising turns on its way to the conclusion.
Two things stand out about this book, besides the voice of Toma. One, it addresses today’s fascination with vampires in a fictional but Christian manner. Two, it is not a book for those who are squeamish about lust and longing spread out across the page.
If you are curious about the title of the book, think of the hymn whose first verse begins:
There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Emmanuelâ€™s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains.
Do I recommend the novel? Maybe. It depends. The blurb on the author’s website ends with this line, and it is true. “But remember, not everyone is for this story.” If you read it, I’d be curious to hear what you think of it.