"Vampiris Sancti: The Immaculate Adventures of One Florian Ribeni" is a vampire-focused novel that is unique among other entries in the current craze; instead of focusing on the relationship between vampires and humans, it focuses on the relationships between vampires and a host of other creatures. It's also unique in that its main character could very well be the ultimate Oscar Wilde of vampires--while characters like Anne Rice's Lestat indulge in hedonism, Florian Ribeni takes it to the next level. Before he becomes a Runner, helping enforce the laws of the vampire nation, his life both as a human and then as a vampire is totally devoted to fashion, sensation, and pleasure.
The novel starts with action, as Florian and his mentor chase Metis, a rogue vampire who is indulging in the forbidden "warmdri"--that is, the blood of a human who is not kept by vampires as a donor. Bringing modern-day problems into the vampire world, Florian's mentor is killed by a drunk driver during the pursuit, and Metis escapes to find sanctuary. Florian's true adventure then begins, as he and a host of other characters pursue Metis to bring their own brand of very violent justice to her.
"The Immaculate Adventures of One Florian Ribeni" presents a unique world where vampires, pixies, elves, and demons coexist, clash, and sometimes fall in love (or at least infatuation). Some of the most enjoyable scenes are between Florian and the playful elf Zyre, who delights in being wayward and causing mischief. The two have an unlikely yet charming relationship, and how they eventually come to peace with one another (well, a sort of peace) was fulfilling to me as a reader. I also very much enjoyed the flashbacks to Florian's youth, which detailed his journey to a life of pleasure and indulgence; as I mentioned above, they had a very decadent, Oscar Wilde feel.
While I was interested in the actual storyline and invested in Florian's pursuit of Metis, especially when he baits the truly terrifying Daughters of Leleht in a ploy to find the fleeing vampire, I often got tripped up by all the characters and the words the author has created for her novels. For instance, all the different vampire houses, their founders, and their Heralds grew confusing, and then when you added in all the different characters of different species I found myself reading over some passages multiple times to remember who was who and who had done what. There's a glossary at the back that helps a bit, but you don't always want to turn to the back to get a refresher on who someone is. I will say, however, that the revelation at the end of the book--the identity of Florian's true love--is shocking and satisfying, and gives the ending a definite impact.
For readers who like an epic read, with a host of unique characters and a new world that's richly developed, "The Immaculate Adventures of One Florian Ribeni" will be a good read. For those who are looking for something a little lighter and don't focus as much when they're reading, it might be a bit confusing.
(reviewed the day of purchase)