I have a sweet tooth for vampires in film and fiction, so naturally Jivaja by Venessa M Giunta caught my fancy. While I do enjoy the standard tropes, it's often refreshing to see an author push the mythos a little further, as Giunta does.
Mecca has a special power – she can see into "cavern" of a living being and steal their power. It's a family gift, or curse, depending on how it's viewed, and until the day she's accosted by a man at a diner, she's never intentionally used it to kill. Until now.
Except the man she's killed is no ordinary man, he's Visci, a breed of vampire, and by killing him, she's essentially painted a massive target on her back. Dragged into this murky world of immortal blood drinkers and their minions, Mecca must learn to use her powers and figure out whether she'll deal with the devil or do her best to remain free. Only things are not at all simple, for as it turns out, her father too is gifted, and he's not going to let the Visci take his daughter without putting up a fight.
Giunta's writing carries a whiff of classic Anne Rice, but it moves quicker, and the characters feel a little more in touch with their world. While the story does take a few chapters to hit its stride, I was nonetheless engaged, and enjoyed a well-realised, well-executed setting with hints at deeper lore. The writing is solid, the author has put a lot of heart into this story, and in Jivaja lays down more than enough threads to continue the saga. The only thread I felt that wasn't developed, was an incipient romantic interest which I didn't feel had sufficient motivation, but it isn't a dealbreaker.
I particularly liked the complicated father-daughter dynamic in this fresh take on the genre, and would most certainly recommend this story to those who cut their teeth on Interview with the Vampire back in the day.