Before we go any further, let me make it clear that you don’t have to read this summary. I work hard to make sure every book in the series can stand by itself. The only knowledge you need going in is that Watcher in the Darkness is modern day, set in a world where vampires/werewolves/witches/etc. and humans have always coexisted. Skip to the first chapter.
Sill here? Okay. This book is the third in my Watcher in the Darkness series, the first two of which can be found at the links below:
If you don’t like spoilers, skip ahead to the first chapter.
Here is a recap of what’s happened so far. I have included a vocabulary section. If there could be any confusion as to word usage in context with this story, I highlighted said word in bold text. That being said, I have the utmost confidence that my readers will be able to infer definitions. ‘Cause you’re awesome.
Book 1: Cold Blood and Black Tar
In this universe, humans and vampires have lived side by side since the dawn of recorded history. However, the two species maintain distinctly separate cultures.
Our protagonist, Tobias (for, Toby, as he’s known to everyone), is a half-vampire. Being not truly one or the other, Toby has never really fit in anywhere. Homeless, jobless, penniless, and single, Toby doesn’t have very many demands on his time. He starts a blog as an excuse to hang out at the public library during the day, which he uses to express his thoughts and to answer any questions the general public has about him. Due to the fact that vampire hybrids are exceedingly rare, his blog gains popularity pretty fast.
Toby has many of the same biological weaknesses as a regular vampire, though to a far lesser extent. His skin is sensitive to sunlight, as well as water, but neither will kill him. He can’t enter a place without first being invited, and magical wards against vampires work against him just fine. He feeds on blood, though he can choke down uncooked human food if he has no other choice. The biggest setbacks he suffers are that his fangs are not retractable, and his saliva does not numb his victims. His bite is extremely painful. To survive, he buys cold blood and hunts in the grey areas between vampire territories.
Through his blog, much of Toby’s backstory is revealed. His mother delivered him in the attic of her family home, and that is where he lived for the first five years of his life. All attempts to wean him off blood were unsuccessful, and so his mother became his primary food source. Her father—Toby’s grandfather—was physically and mentally abusive, and he attempted to kill Toby om several occasions when he was small. One night, Toby’s mother snapped. She bound her mother, father, and younger sister to dining room chairs then allowed her son to feed on them to his heart’s content. Days later, when they were finally dead, she took Toby outside to tell him that he was on his own, and to be on the lookout for the Watchers. Toby ran away, but turned back to see that his mother’s house was in flames.
Toby’s father, Baron Sebastian von Brandt, is a Pure vampire, but he is also very young. Toby’s father has almost nothing to do with him. His grandmother, Hlin, forces Sebastian to parent upon occasion, but she is largely absent as well. Toby has never had any sort of interaction with this grandfather, the Archduke.
Ordinarily, Toby doesn’t have much to occupy himself, but these are not ordinary times. A large number of ghouls have begun to appear on the beach and boardwalk. Toby recruits Karen, his necromancer “friend”, to help him investigate. It’s a school night and she has to study, but she begrudgingly agrees to go along to help level the playing field.
They arrive at the abandoned boardwalk to discover that the rumors were true. They are almost immediately set upon by a handful of ghouls and dozens of wild vampires. Toby makes short work of the ghouls as Karen sets up a domination circle. Unfortunately, her necromancy doesn’t affect the wild vampires as strongly as it affects Toby. Before they can figure out why this is, the Watchers arrive and begin slaughtering the shit out of everything that moves. Toby and Karen barely manage to escape.
They take refuge in an empty apartment several blocks away, but are followed by one of the wild vampires. Karen invites him in, not out of pity, but because she recognizes him as one of her classmates, DeShawn. Furthermore, DeShawn had been human just the previous afternoon. Toby believes the Tepes Chalice is responsible, but before they can question DeShawn further, he is killed by a Watcher. The Watcher turns her gun on Toby, but Karen uses her powers to make the weapon fall apart. Toby takes advantage of the situation and knocks the Watcher out, but drags the woman into the apartment so she won’t be fed upon by the wild vampires.
With the Watchers out in force trying to root out the source of the city’s troubles, Toby and every other Disavowed vampire is in danger of becoming their next target. He keeps a low profile as he continues to write his blog. He tells the story of how he met Karen, when she released him from the Waking Death curse placed upon him by Justine Walters. Justine had staked Toby through the heart while he was in a feral state to save her daughter’s life, then buried his body in her basement. Unfortunately, the curse left him awake and in constant pain for thirty years. Sebastian finally gets around to tracking him down and demands that Justine’s daughter Elaina release Toby. As Justine’s reincarnation, only Karen had the power to remove the spell, which she does, only to be immediately attacked by Toby. This is the moment she realized her necromancy powers, which she uses to dominate Toby out of the house. Karen tracks him down three days later, when the bite on her neck still has not healed, and the two of them have remained in each other’s lives ever since.
Toby notices one of the wild vampires—now human—walking around in broad daylight. He follows him to an abandoned house, where he watches him and two other young men inject themselves with a thick black substance that immediately transforms them into vampires. They sense Toby then attack, and he barely manages to fend them off. As the ringleader vampire dies of sun exposure, he tells Toby that the black tar was sold to him by a man with burn scars covering his entire body. Toby realizes that he must be talking about Nicholai Santos, the same man that drained Toby to the point that he became feral.
Toby uses his blog to call out the Watchers, telling them that he knows the source of the wild vampires and that they need to come to him. Karen and Father Michael Cooper (who runs the Sanctuary for Disavowed vampires) accompany Toby on this crazy mission, where Toby is almost kidnapped. Karen dives into the van with him and Michael pulls a gun on the trained killers. Not wanting to violate ancient treaties by killing a priest, the Watchers hear Toby and Karen out, then release them so they can go investigate this drug. As they are leaving, Song—the Watcher Toby saved by pulling her to safety—thanks him.
A few days later, while Karen and Toby are in town, watching the various news reports on the vampire drug (dubbed vampphetamines), the story breaks that the Watchers have been exposed and were targeted by unknown assailants. They have been effectively eliminated. Toby and Karen realize that this means vampires everywhere, subjugated for hundreds of years by the threat of Watcher retaliation, will once again try to assert their dominion over humans. Humans, in turn, will panic and begin to view vampires as their enemy. The book ends with Toby and Karen taking one another by the hand.
Book 2: Fractured Soul
A few weeks have passed since the Watchers were wiped out, and vampires everywhere are taking advantage of their freedom. Aside from being much better fed, Toby’s life hasn’t changed much. He still lives at the Sanctuary, Karen is still engaged to her boyfriend, Trevor, and they are still searching for clues as to the whereabouts of the Tepes Chalice. He continues to routinely update his blog to help pass the time.
One day at the library with Karen, Toby is confronted by the ghost of Justine, who topples a bookshelf onto him. Soon after, Justine’s body is stolen from her shrine. Justine has been declared the patron saint of vampires, mostly because of her work to help the Disavowed. Further evidence of her holiness is the incorruptibility of her corpse. Toby begrudgingly agrees to help look for Justine’s body, then begins to write a series of blog entries detailing his history with Karen’s previous incarnation.
Toby spent his formative years on the streets, mostly ignored by his vampire relatives. One night, he is summoned out of nowhere by his grandmother. Having only met Hlin once when he was a very small child, he answers the summons out curiosity. Hlin, consort of the Archduke and mother of Sebastian, reveals that she was born human. Undeniably Pure, Hlin informs Toby that she was made into a vampire not by the Archduke but by the Tepes Chalice. Any traditional attempt to turn Toby into a full-fledged vampire would result in him turning feral, but the Chalice would make him as Pure as the rest of his family. Toby is not completely thrilled with having to adopt all of the physiological weaknesses that come with being a Pure vampire, but Hlin convinces him.
Toby spends the next several years searching for the Chalice Witch, of whom he has only seen a line drawing. Luckily, the Mad Witch Serkani (creator of the chalice) looks exactly the same in every incarnation. One night, Toby happens to see Justine’s picture in the paper and recognizes her immediately.
Toby tracks Justine down then demands that she use the chalice to turn him into a Pure vampire. She refuses. Justine being a powerful necromancer, Toby is no match for her physically, so he concocts a plan to rob a bank then bribe her. Her intuition warns her of his scheme, which she thwarts by meeting him at the bank. She informs him that she will never, under any circumstances, turn a sociopath like him into a vampire.
Toby pretends to leave then stalks Justine back to her house, where he discovers that she has a three-year-old daughter, Elaina (Ellie). He concocts a new plan, to kidnap Ellie then hold her hostage until Justine agreed to turn him. Justine is a single mother, full time witch, and is trying to remodel an old monastery into what will eventually become the Sanctuary. She leaves her daughter in the care of her apprentice for most of the day, having no idea that the older woman mostly neglects Elaina. This gives Toby ample opportunity to build a relationship with the girl, though Ellie is obedient enough not to invite him into the yard or house.
To keep Justine from becoming suspicious, Toby continues to harass her at the Sanctuary building site. He is deliberately obnoxious in order to make Justine dismiss him as nothing more than a harmless nuisance. One day, he lets it slip that he knows where she lives, and Justine pieces it all together. They race back to her house, but Toby reaches it first. He convinces Ellie to invite him into the yard, which she does, just as Justine arrives. Rather than follow through with his kidnapping plot, Toby releases the girl. Justine is furious but invites him into the house. There, she makes him an offer; protect her daughter until she is old enough to take care of herself, at which time Justine will use the chalice to turn Toby into a Pure vampire. Toby agrees, but Justine creates a wooden stake cursed with Waking Death as a precaution, should he ever pull a stunt like this again.
Years pass, during which time Toby continues to live with Justine and Ellie. Justine sells her magical services, and it is during one of these jobs that she is possessed by several demons. Toby confronts the demons, confessing his love for Justine to put them of guard, which gives Justine the foothold she needs to push the invading entities out of her body. She succeeds, and their romantic relationship begins.
A year later, Toby returns from walking Elaina to school to discover a stranger sitting in their kitchen. The man is employed by Nicholai Santos, a well-known drug dealer. Santos was the victim of a faulty car bomb that left him severely burned. The man wants to pay Justine a quarter of a million dollars to turn Santos into a vampire, but she refuses. When the man leaves, Toby and Justine discuss using the chalice to turn Toby into a human instead of a vampire. Toby agrees on the condition that they get married when it’s done.
Toby leaves later that afternoon to walk Elaina home from school, and is knocked unconscious by Santos’s men. They throw him into the back of a van then blood-mug him, using Toby’s blood to infuse Santos and therefore save his live. The attack leaves Toby feral, Santos’s intent all along, then they drop Toby just outside of Justine’s house. Though he has no memory of the event, Toby attacks Ellie, breaking her leg so badly that it has to be amputated. Justine uses the cursed stake to stop the attack then buries Toby’s body in the cellar of her house. Toby learns after the fact that Justine, believing her daughter would never recover, committed suicide.
In the present, Karen attempts to divine the location of Justine’s body by performing a ritual at Justine’s tomb. The ritual is largely unsuccessful, and leaves Karen with a nasty case of the flu. This lets Toby off the hook for a bit, to his relief, because he still harbors a lot of resentment toward Justine. He wants nothing more than to disengage himself from the situation, but then Karen vanishes.
Because Elaina is the most powerful diviner he knows, Toby enlists her aide in finding Karen. Elaina, who is terrified of vampires, overcomes her terror and agrees to help, then the two work together to discover Karen’s location. Toby tracks Karen to a large, decrepit mansion on the edge of town. There, Toby discovers that Karen has been turned into a zombie by Ellie’s former nanny, Gretchen, whom Justine fired. Gretchen is now a very old woman and a practitioner of voodoo. She is also responsible for the theft of Justine’s body. Gretchen plans to rejoin Justine’s vengeful ghost with her corpse, then use Karen’s life force to bring Justine back to life. Once this is done, Gretchen can use mind control magic to force Justine to use the chalice to turn her into a vampire, thereby restoring her youth and beauty.
Karen, sick and mindless but still retaining her powers, dominates Toby into being a passive sacrifice in order to complete the ritual, at which time Gretchen removes Karen’s soul. Just as Gretchen is about to slit Toby’s throat, Justine attacks Gretchen. Karen’s soul flies free then returns to her body, but not before knocking over a hurricane lamp. Toby uses the chaos of the fire to rescue Karen then escape, rushing her to the nearest hospital. He returns to the mansion to find it is a blazing inferno. There is no sign of Justine.
Karen is in critical condition, the infection in her lungs having turned into sepsis. Knowing that she is about to die, Michael invites Toby into Karen’s hospital room so that Toby can say goodbye. He does, then Justine appears. She has become a revenant, bent on revenge. Since Karen is comatose and susceptible, Justine is able to use Karen to force Toby into remembering everything that happened during the attack. After being dropped in front of Justine’s house, feral Toby attacked the first person he saw; Justine. He drained her dry, killing her, but her blood wasn’t enough to bring him back to his senses. Elaina walked in at that moment, and saw the monster Toby has become. She tried to run but Toby caught up to her outside. Justine reanimated in the kitchen as a ghoul, but still somehow sentient due to her necromancy abilities. Unfortunately, dying stripped her of her powers. Justine arrived on the scene to find her daughter crippled and her throat ripped open. Justine staked Toby then called for help. Unable to remove the curse, she buried Toby in her basement.
The recovered memory devastates Toby. Justine’s revenant tells him (through Karen) that the only way she can find peace is if Toby joins her in death. Toby agrees without hesitation, but Karen comes out of her coma in time to stop Justine from killing him. She defies Justine, keeping a tight hold on Toby to keep the revenant from getting any closer. Justine vanishes, then Karen coughs up a rancid black blob. It turns out Karen’s sickness was caused by Justine, not Gretchen. Her fever breaks and she can breathe, but she screams at Toby to leave and to never speak to her again.
Toby makes one final blog entry in which he confesses to murdering Justine. Michael tries to talk Toby into hunting down Justine’s revenant, having figured out that her incorruptibility wasn’t due to sainthood; Justine has been a ghoul the entire time and has been feeding to preserve herself. Toby refuses to help, asking Michael to please tell Karen how sorry he is. He then turns himself over to the police.
Intrigued? Of course you are. It’s never too late to go read the full story, and I’m not just saying that because my book sales suuuuuuuuuck.
In the meantime, here are the vocabulary words I promised you.
- Pure– Any vampire that is born a vampire, to two (also Pure) vampire parents. Only Pure vampires can procreate in this way, with other Pure vampires or very occasionally, humans.
- Turned– Any vampire that was once human. Turned are second-class citizens in vampire circles. They can’t reproduce or turn humans into vampires.
- Sublimation– According to Webster, sublimation is “to refine or purify; to make nobler or purer.” In this universe, it is the three day process in which a human is turned into a vampire.
- Feral– What a vampire becomes if starved or bled dry. Driven only by the insatiable hunger for blood, a feral vampire is a nearly unstoppable killing machine.
- Cold Blood– chemically preserved blood, sold almost everywhere. About as nutritional as a straight diet of potato chips.
- Disavowed– any vampire that has been declared an outlaw, or who has been abandoned by his progenitor, for whatever reason. Without territory or community ties, most Disavowed don’t survive.
- Progenitor– The vampire responsible for the creation of another vampire, by birth or sublimation.
- Ghoul– this is what a human becomes after being drained to the point of death by a vampire. They reanimate as flesh-eating undead (think Walking Dead or Night of the Living Dead.)
- Zombie– not to be confused with a ghoul, zombies are human beings that have had their will completely subverted by a witch, wizard, or practitioner of voodoo. They become mindless servants.
- Necromancy– school of magic dealing with death and the undead, mostly the control thereof.
- Blood–Mugging– to steal a vampire’s blood, through science or magic, for the purpose of healing a sick or injured human.
I think that about covers it. Now, on to Chapter One!