Novel: Bloodwalker

Lightning flashes. Another child disappears…

When Zorka Circus performs, its big top roars with laughter and cheers, but when it moves on, there are fewer children in the European towns it leaves behind.

Circus Security Chief Rurik suspects a killer hides among the international performers, but they close ranks—they’ve always viewed lightning-scarred Rurik as the monster. Nevertheless, he's determined to find the culprit and stop them before anyone else dies and the only place he can call home is ripped apart by the murders.

Into Zorka Circus comes the Skomori clan, despised as gravediggers and ghoulish bloodwalkers. A one-day truce allows bloodwalker Sylvie to marry. Instead, she finds a body. Alerting others will defy her clan’s strict rules, break the truce, and leave her an outcast.

When more bodies turn up, the killer's trail becomes impossible to ignore. Rurik and Sylvie must follow the clues—even if they lead to something unimaginable.

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Amazon reviews 54, average 4.7 stars

What reviewers are saying:
Publishers Weekly Review:  "YA horror novelist Cain (Soul Cutter) steps right up to the center ring in this captivating shocker of children disappearing after the circus comes to town. While touring present-day Hungary, Slovakia, and Romania, Rurik, the lightning-scarred security chief and former strongman of the Zorka Cyrka circus, investigates the disappearances and mediates conflict when the insular Skomori folk hold a wedding at the circus. One of the brides, Sylvie, plagued by misfortune (including an arranged marriage to a man whose abusive and philandering ways are condoned by Skomori culture) and forbidden to use her skills as a bloodwalker (one who prepares corpses for burial), uncovers the remains of a child in a circus trailer and becomes a target for the killer. Using their unusual talents, first separately and then together, Sylvie and Rurik uncover the circus’s horrifying secret and put to rest the curse that haunts both their peoples. Cain immerses the reader in the working life of a struggling circus and in the daily chores of a fascinating, albeit fictional, Slavic folkway. A series of rising threats overextends the climax, but the likability of the protagonists is enough to keep readers going. (Oct.)"
Library Journal (starred review): "The Zorka Circus delights people young and old, but when it moves on, the big tent is not the only thing that vanishes; children also disappear. Circus security chief Rurik believes the key to the missing children is with the performers, but they close ranks against the lightning-scarred strongman. Joining the troupe is a new act, the Skomori clan of bloodwalkers, despised as evil grave-diggers. However, a wedding is to be performed by the famous bloodwalker Zora, the wife of the Zorka Circus leader. But before bride Sylvie can marry, she discovers the mutilated body of a child. Alerting others will flout her clan’s code of silence and make her an outcast, yet as more corpses turn up, Rurik and Sylvie find their paths again colliding, and they will discover that the killer is far more horrible than they ever imagined. VERDICT. Cain’s (Soul Cutter) frightening tale about family relationships, whether by blood or by bond, with its multidimensional characters, eerie European setting, and an unpredictable plot, is bound to chill paranormal and horror readers alike.”

“L.X. Cain’s Bloodwalker is a dark, suspenseful thrill-ride that blends white-knuckle horror with a gripping murder mystery. Cain takes readers on tour with a traveling circus of terror in a fantastic story filled with eclectic characters, unusual suspects, and plenty of twists and turns that keep you guessing. I enjoyed Bloodwalker from beginning to end. Fresh, original, and a frightening fun read. Highly recommended!” ~ Brian Moreland, author of Blood Sacrifices and Dead of Winter
This fluent thriller is a must for aficionados of the Big Tent noir subgenre. Where entertainment is dangerous.” ~ Geoff Nelder, award-winning author of sci-fi series ARIA  
"Absolutely unique, unusual and brilliant! ... With Sophie and Rurik as the central characters the book weaves a brilliant story, the plot and pace grabbed me early on and continued to keep a tight grip all the way through. You've got so much to love in this book." ~Maxine, Booklover Catlady (top 10 GR reviewer)
"This tale is fast-paced, gripping, and heart-pounding in places. It's one of those sit-on-the-edge of your seat and can't-read-it-fast-enough type books." ~ Sahara Foley Reviews  
"Great backdrop, excellent writing, and an explosive ending that'll leave you breathless." ~ Matthew Keith, author of The Watchers series
"The cover is simply fantastic. It's eye-catching and fits both the setting and the theme quite beautifully, as the plot is divided into two different branches-one being a murder mystery about a clown who kills children, and the other is from the point of view of a mystical woman who is hated for being a ghoulish bloodwalker. Rather than distract from each other, these two plot threads work together quite well, as the background of a bloodwalker is slowly developed and not revealed entirely from the start." ~ Natasha Bennett, Black Haven Reviews
"So who is the killer? The book will leave you guessing throughout. It points to one, then the next, and it was for me a surprise element when I found out what was going on. It was even more surprising as the culmination turned into something more sinister than I expected which definitely gave the ‘whodunnit’ an interesting horror element." ~ Liz, Cover 2 Cover Reviews
"I was hooked from the start because both lead characters appealed to me. Sylvie was innocent and sweet but her life was so enveloped in the Bloodwalker traditions that she was fascinating. Rurik’s character was beautifully heroic and he was always ready to sacrifice himself. He was definitely crush-worthy." ~ India Taylor, Gothic Mansion Books Reviews
"Bloodwalker is an amazing read. The story takes us inside a circus, where a mix of fierce loyalty, suspicion, and petty jealousy simmers among the performers. Another thread takes us inside the bloodwalker clan, whose practices and beliefs seem as antiquated as they are bizarre. Cain prefaces each chapter with an excerpt from The Bloodwalker's Book, a manual on handling the dead, a ghoulish touch.
Rurik and Sylvie are exceptionally likable characters and both are committed to integrity. They are also flawed. Rurik suffers from hideous physical scars incurred from lightening strikes and brings to mind a very noble version of Frankenstein's monster. Sylvie is cursed with bad luck. Whatever she strives to accomplish seems to go awry. Working separately, the pair arrive at the truth behind the murdered children and a string of bloodwalker deaths. A large cast of characters—each with their own selfish motives—stand in the way of Rurik and Sylvie.
I had an inkling of what was going on long before the conclusion, but Cain hides the overwhelming extent of the horror until the climax, which is both thrilling and dreadfully intense. This is a novel that pays off in spades (grave-digging reference intended). If you want characters you will gladly cheer for and suffer with and you don't mind a bit of ghoulish horror, read Bloodwalker."
~ Jeff Chapman, Untethered Realms


Cathrina Constantine said...

Great Reviews, Lexa!!! Congratulations!!!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Congratulations on the great reviews, Lexa. I'm thrilled for you. This is an exciting time. As soon as my life calms down, I'll read Bloodwalker. Reminds me a little of Crossing Lines, a netflx series.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the super reviews, Lexa!

Tamara Narayan said...

Hurrah for extraordinary reviews! I will have to add mine to the mix pretty soon. I raced through your book this week and truly, truly loved it.

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