Thursday, 2 January 2014

Ensanguined - Emma Edwards: A review

"Ensanguined definition, to stain or cover with or as with blood: a flag ensanguined with the blood of battle"

Ensanguined is the third instalment of Emma Edward's Sanguinary Trilogy. I'm a big fan and have read every word of the books. 

Yesterday, I completed the set. I started reading the book at 11pm and finished at 4am. That gives you some indication of what you are dealing with. 

It's fast. It's furious, it's bloody, its violent and for those of you who have read the other two books, who will know exactly what I mean, Ensanguined is absolutely dripping with sex. Lashings of it. 

Blood and sex - a fatal combination for this gang of vampires and Angel, their enthralling, seductive muse.

Emma Edwards, in typical JK repose

Much of what happens here can be explained in the other two reviews copied over onto this blog. 

Those we know and love return, but the main focus of attention will always be Ash and Angel, who begin by getting married in great Welsh gothic fashion. 

The plot is simple. The band of vampires, Erebis, go on tour, only to be stalked by a vengeful vampire slayer determined to send them to Hell. So far, so Sanguinary. 

The rain falls, the nights grow darker, Angel and Ash fight, bonk, fall out, bonk, fall out again and bonk some more, while the stricken Parsifals in the band, Kieren and Jay, get ever closer to revealing their feelings for her, feelings which, if Ash discovered their nature, would leave them in big trouble. 

Lead guitarist Jay in particular has her bad and Ash knows it. And he doesn't like it.

"While the slayer gets ever closer, the band notice changes in Angel. She feels sick, dizzy, nauseous but also something else. Unable to explain her malady, which also seems to be inspiring serious interest from anything male in the vicinity, Angel receives a visit from Gabriel, the sinister and elegant leader of the Sanguinarian Council in London who gives her some dreadful news, news she can scarcely comprehend.

Unwilling to confront Gabriel's revelation, and tired of the boorish Ash's violent, controlling, blood, ego and testosterone fuelled behaviour, Angel goes hog wild..."

Angel is by far the best character in the series and we see a different side to her here. 

The middle portion of the book, where Angel is strutting her stuff, going mad, being bad - at once Vampirella, Countess Dracula, Camilla and the Twins of Evil combined into one - is a sleigh ride, a roller coaster ride and the best piece of writing in the whole trilogy. 

RIP Ingrid Pitt - the greatest
It pulsates. It is relentless. It rockets along and the events pass you by like landmarks on a high-speed train ride. 

Angel has booze problems and is a suppressed, possibly clinical, nymphomaniac (as she alludes to in the very first three chapters of Sanguinary) and combined with Gabriel's news (which will startle regular readers), it all merges to inspire the type of personal, sexual and emotional havoc Emma excels in writing. 

She really lets go here, her prose fulsome and purple, the pace electric, the sentencing deep and lustrous. 

The sex - of which there is a EU butter mountain-sized helping - is genuinely well written, and the more Emma delves into Angel's flawed, isolating, destructive, abandoned and utterly wanton sexuality, the more erotic she becomes. 

Regular readers of my stuff will know I cannot cope with Ash, the strutting, vain, jealous, controlling, psychotic, headbanging cock-symbol vampire who leads Erebis, and of whom, fundamentally, the trilogy is about. 

A better looking, more muscular version of Marilyn Manson, he grabbed hold of my pissed-off button in the very first book and never let go, but even I felt for him when Angel began acting her considerable worst  - a tour de force of helpless confusion, pain, angst and cynicism, inflicting the type of hyper-sexual revenge warfare men are generally terrified of when faced with it. 

Emma sends a bullet straight into the male ego here as Ash, emotionally stunted, crippled by love and unable to compete, is driven to an orgy of quite terrifying violence by his beloved Angel's antics.

The middle of the book is by far the best part of Ensanguined. It explains everything. It reveals truths and isolates the writer's unique worldview. 

What comes after suffers: yes, there are two or three surprises, a great plot twist and a bittersweet, moving ending, but it pales a little after such absolute authorial madness. 

That's not to say its poor. Emma Edwards can never be that - its just that the middle is so smoking hot.

Flaws? Emma occasionally overwrites, and there are too many characters - you  would need to have a Donna Tartt sized book to fit them all in - and there is an occasional sense of the minor characters fighting among themselves for air time and never quite getting across their side of the story.

Chuckles and the Sanguinary Trilogy. 

I also would like to see a return to the geographical sense of place of the first book. You knew you were in Wales and you could walk the same streets as Angel and Ash, Here, there was more of an Everyplace feel to it. 

Also, there is more (fashionable) dialogue here and less (unfashionable) description in this book - a mistake, in my opinion. 

Dialogue-led books are a noughties fad spawned in ersatz Creative Writing courses and will, in twenty years time, come across as dated as a Horace Walpole satire is now.

This is a pulp novel, embedded firmly in a pulp tradition. It is entertainment - cracking stuff too - and it succeeds admirably in its goals. I couldn't put it down and have been knackered all day because of the late night. I am looking forward to seeing what Emma Edwards comes up with next. It's bound to be hot stuff.

Well done, Emma.

Ingrid Pitt in the fourth segment
of The House That Dripped Blood. A masterpiece.


  1. Ensanguined by Emma Edwards. Reviewed by The Wizard. It's a cracker.

    1. Not just for vampire lovers :-) Good review.

  2. Brilliant review for Emma Edwards' Ensanguined. And, Wiz, you almost spilled a tear for Ash ... n x

  3. Thank you for the wonderful review! xx

  4. Thank you ladies! Looking forward to reviewing Timeline and Dragon's Star too. Going to have some fun with my reviews. I don't like writing bad reviews, but I read a few poor books and it put me off writing them. Emma, it;'s always a pleasure to read your stuff. In that quiet way of yours, you are well over the top. There are erotica authors out there who can't touch what you do - and I love your characterisations. Best of luck in 2014. (To all of us, actually!)

  5. Oh, and Ngaire - I'd never shed a tear for Ash...
    Sharpen a stake, maybe. :-) :-)