Leap of Faith – Joshua Rem
Leap of Faith is the first book of the Rufino Factor Series by Joshua Rem and it’s based in the fantasy land of Nyobi. Nyobi is a peninsula nation which is home to various mythical beings including vampires, druids, dwarves, trolls and humans. All is not well in the kingdom, as forests are being destroyed, vampires are hunted, and various factions are manoeuvring for battle.
Rufino Endicott is a halfling vampire, who can feed off his victims, without killing them. He is wonderfully drawn as a witty opportunist, especially with the women, but he must keep his vampire reality hidden. In the Salty Squid Tavern in Borallis, he seeks an opportunity to connect with a woman and feed of her for his blood needs. Into the tavern walks a 6-foot stunning woman that has a strange effect on him, he sees her not just as a food source, but with a twinge of attraction, a feeling he hasn’t experienced since his conversion to vampirism 6 years earlier. After a period of time and a little drunk, she invites him back to her room.
In her room, behind a locked door, she soberly reveals her name as Kiralyn Frostwhisper, a druid, a powerful infamous sorceress that is sworn to kill all unnatural beings. Rufino expects death to be instant but instead, Kiralyn makes him an offer, kill someone the druids have targeted and make it look like a vampire attack gone wrong. Accept, and he can name a price – refuse, and she will kill him. Understandably he accepts and his price is a proper date with her so he can understand how he has developed these feelings. This precarious atmosphere is wonderfully created with a sense of deception, threat, manipulation and greater forces that are playing a high-risk game of conflict.
The essence of the book now unfolds as Rufino decides to take the Leap of Faith and meet Kiralyn rather than go on the run. He travels, metamorphosed as a bat, separately to the rendezvous location, questioning how he can just kill someone, wondering how he has developed feelings for Kiralyn as an undead, and who, and why do the druids want someone killed. She did suggest it wasn’t murder, it was an execution for crimes committed against the land. The pace of the story was quite slow at this point and I did wonder why so much storyline was consumed with very little action or reveal. The plot in this book is very thin and while it’s great that the story isn’t rushing to get all the details to you immediately, you realise that this is the first book of the series and we’re in this for the long haul.
When Rufino and Kiralyn meet in Tundora their dialogue and thought processes as they manoeuvre attempts to discover each other’s background and character, is brilliantly done. The probing humorous conversations are the real high point of this novel and how they delicately position themselves while still untrusting of the other is superb. There is a growing bond, mainly based on Rufino’s humour but he does push the discussion as they examine the reasons for killing someone and the impact on their conscience if they take another life. Is there another way and how can you feel so protective of nature and freedom, yet plan to commit murder? Why do 2 killers think like this?
In the great tradition of a “To Be Continued” story the biggest surprise in the final chapter of the novel, leaves the reader on a cliffhanger. Now I have to read the next book, which I’m looking forward to.