Fans of Anne Rice's sensual Vampire Chronicles (including Interview with a Vampire and Queen of the Damned) will lose themselves in J.A. Cummings' first "Clans" novel, Nightchild. Awash in both illicit and socially sanctioned desire without devolving into graphic sex, this tale of gypsies and vampires explores the magical and forbidden bond between a pair of Irish/Rom fraternal twins. It also follows their reluctant involvement in a centuries-old battle between warring vampiric factions.
Tobyn Reyes loves no other in the world like his sister Araminah. Born to an Irish mother from a Romany father, the twins have lived their entire lives in a traditional gypsy caravan, or kumpania. Both brother and sister possess their family's magical chovihani healing abilities, and their place in the caravan seems secure. But when Tobyn attempts to steal a nobleman's horse, he unwittingly attracts the attention of an ancient French vampire. After an horrific few weeks of imprisonment, abuse and torture at the hands of the Vicomte Michel Dumas, Tobyn manages to escape with the aid of a sympathetic female Spanish vampire. When Tobyn regains his place in the kumpania, it seems that his life will return to normal. Araminah reluctantly marries into a wealthy family, and Tobyn weds the caravan leader's beautiful daughter. But a jealous relative's betrayals leave their father dead and reveal to the clan's council of elders their ill-conceived physical desire for one another, and the Reyes twins are cast out from the only home they have ever known.
Tobyn had believed himself immune to the vampire's touch because of a charm laid on him and his sister by their grandmother. Her prophetic words, however, only ensured that they could not become "normal" vampires. The Change comes upon the handsome young gypsy belatedly but violently, and in his sudden and overpowering new thirst, he unintentionally kills a beloved friend. Apalled at his own actions, Tobyn flees to Ireland and vows never to feed without a donors' permission. He also commits himself to destroying Michel Dumas and the vampiric clans of the Prime and the Brethren.
Cummings weaves an engrossing tapestry of mortal needs and monstrous hungers. Everything about Nightchild should appeal to both those who simply enjoy losing themselves in a riveting piece of fantastic fiction and those who are nearly obsessed with vampirism -- from Anne Rice readers to White Wolf Masquerade players. The exotic allure of gypsies and the forbidden carnal pleasures of the children of the night forge an irresistible story.