Beneath London's Fog is the Perfect Halloween Read
“I want it known before this tale begins – I am not a hero but a villain.”
That’s how brand-new author, Iona Caldwell begins her debut novel Beneath London’s Fog. From there, she takes you on a haunting adventure with Jonathan Holloway; a gentleman, a lover, a father, and…a vampire. Now, don’t you throw your arms up in the air and shout, “Oh, no! Not another vampire book!” because this is more than just a vampire story. Thankfully, there’s no sparkling vampires! (I’m sorry, but I thought that was a little ridiculous when I’ve grown up with The Lost Boys and Bram Stoker’s Dracula!) However, it does have love, anger, jealousy, revenge, and, of course, just a little bit of sex because you cannot leave out sex in a vampire tale.
What Is Beneath London's Fog About?
Beneath London’s Fog tells the tale of Mr. Holloway as he lives his life in seclusion with his “daughter” Holly in early 1900’s London until something happens to disrupt it. A murder. But not any murder. The way Ms. Caldwell describes these murders could be compared to the time of Jack the Ripper. By the way, her writing and descriptions are so well done, but I will get to that in a little bit. He knows these killings aren’t being done by a human, but by something familiar to him. One of his kind. The question is…why?
(Some of) The Characters
Throughout this book we are introduced to characters like Jonathan Holloway and his “daughter” Holly. The reason I have daughter in quotes is because Holly was a little girl when Jonathan saved her from being arrested and put into prison. He took her under his wing and raised her. He loved her like she was one of his own while she loved him and treated him like a father. We are also introduced to the love of his life, the one who transformed him from a monster to an angel, in a sense, Annabelle. Which brings me back to the first sentence of this book.
I love how Ms. Caldwell opened her novella! (It’s less than 100 pages, so it’s definitely a novella.) You begin to question who this character is and what he/she did or has done in life to make him/her a villain, not a hero. But as you read the story, you realize that Jonathan is more a hero than a villain, so then you start to question why he thinks he’s such a bad guy. His past? The fact he’s a vampire? Well, you’ll just have to read to figure it out yourself.
Ms. Caldwell's Writing Style
As I mentioned earlier, the way Ms. Caldwell wrote this story is so elegant and her descriptions are so vivid, you’ll feel like you’re there with Jonathan. It honestly plays out like a movie. You have the introduction to the characters, the action, the climax, the conclusion, and the best part…you can truly see it all happening.
Some great examples are…
“Big Ben provided the perfect venue for me to listen to almost all of the corners of the city. The moon shone full in the sky, her face covered by wisps of spectral clouds, creating a blurred halo. The scent of fresh snow wafted on the air, promising a new blanket.”
“Tracking the ghoul took me to the most squalid of London’s docks. Remains of fish from the markets lay strewn over the stone walkways, their foul decay polluting the air and water. Tinkling of bells echoed in the distance followed by rattling of ship tackle rustling in the light breeze of the early evening. Ocean waves capped against the harbor wall and gulls crying out added to the music of the harbor.”
“They began forming a circle around me like wolves preparing to finish a wounded animal.”
And as you read her story, you can feel their emotions, or you become emotional. Like when Holly asked Jonathan to spend the day with her planning her wedding before he forced her to leave for her safety, I cried. Or when I learned how Annabelle was killed, I became angry. Or when Jonathan was attacked, I cheered him on.
What I Loved About Beneath London's Fog
I think one of my favorite aspects of this book is the fact that Jonathan keeps on calling himself a villain, a monster. The ways he would describe himself (or Ms. Caldwell would describe him) were, “A monster wearing the skin of a man,” or “I am a monster wearing the face of a man.” I loved reading those lines. What a perfect way to describe a vampire, if you see them as monsters, of course. However, again, throughout the book, he shows little evidence of being this villain. At least, to me he doesn’t.
Then, toward the end of the book, we are introduced to a vampire hunter named Leland Kietch. Back in the day, when Leland was a young hunter, Jonathan actually saved him. When they meet again years later, Leland says to him, “You spared my life once. You showed me not all monsters are wicked.” And Jonathan even admits, “I never claimed to be a good man but not all monsters are the same.”
Lastly, as I read this novella, several other books and movies kept on popping up into my head. Books like Anne Rice’s vampire series or movies like Dark Shadows (the 2012 remake starring Johnny Depp and Michelle Pfeifer, not the original 1966 version) just kept on replaying in my mind because Ms. Caldwell’s debut novel, Beneath London’s Fog reminds me so much of them. If you don’t believe me, read and see for yourself. Or maybe different movies and books will pop up for you.
In conclusion, I definitely recommend this book. It is a great read and perfect for the fall/Halloween season, but is also perfect for anyone who loves vampire stories, ghost stories, and stories of revenge. If you would like to learn more about Ms. Caldwell, please check out her website. You can also follow her on Instagram and Twitter. Beneath London's Fog is officially available as an eBook on Amazon and should be available in paperback this weekend.
I also just want to take a moment and thank Iona's publisher, FyreSyde Publishing. They gave me an opportunity (along with so many others) to review this amazing debut novella from her and I couldn't be anymore honored. I cannot thank them enough for reaching out to me. I hope (and cannot wait) to continue working with them in the future.
Policies & Disclosure
Please remember I am not getting paid to write this review. I am just a fan and fellow author helping out another great author. To learn more, please check out my Policy page. Also, I would love to hear what you think of this review and of the book, if you’ve read it. You can either comment below (please read my “Comments Policy” on the Policy page before doing so) or contact me.
The photos featured in this post are my photos. The first is my copy of Beneath London's Fog by Iona Caldwell. The second is my “signature photo”, me with my copy of this chilling novella.
**This post was originally published on October 25, 2019**