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The Voinico's Daughter (The Vanator Vampire Hunters #1) by Sallie Cochren

@Archaeolibrary, @hotchoc84, @sallie_cochren,

#UrbanFantasy, #Horror, #Vampires,

Watch out vampires! There's a new girl in town!

Nicoleta has never taken a life before, but she will have to make her first kill soon. Typical of girls her age, her concerns are boys and college. But when she takes a trip to Romania with several of her classmates to celebrate their graduations, Nicoleta is going to discover who she really is. When Nicoleta learns that she is adopted and that her biological parents live in Romania, it's just the tip of the iceberg. Finding out that her birthright is hunting and killing vampires, Nicoleta has to decide if she will remain in Romania and fulfill her destiny or if she will return to America and try to forget about the nightmare of a world that she has been thrown into.

Adding to Nicoleta's problems, a notorious vampire named Varujan has been waiting for Nicoleta's arrival. Her parents are called voinicos because they survived being bitten by a vampire. By birth, a voinico's child becomes a vampire hunter, also known as a vanator. Varujan has known that the voinico's daughter would eventually return to Romania and he is looking forward to meeting her and killing her. With his vampire mistress, Antanasia, Varujan seems unstoppable.

Is Nicoleta ready to face Varujan and Antanasia? The other vanators have been training to kill vampires since they were children. Will Nicoleta be able to catch up with her training and be ready for the battle that is inevitably coming? Can she keep herself and her friends safe, or will they become the vampires' victims before their trip is over? Whatever happens, one thing is for sure. Nicoleta's life is never going to be the same again!

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“Were you really so foolish?” the voice was deep and ominous. “I thought that of all the voinicos, you were one of the wisest. You are the great Andrei, after all, aren’t you?” Andrei lay on the ground bleeding, a mere ten feet from Varujan. His adversary had picked him up and thrown him to the ground, and Andrei had cut his calf on a sharp rock. The wound wasn’t lethal, but a steady stream of blood oozed down his leg. The vârcolac’s words stung. Andrei would rarely want to admit that a vârcolac was right about anything. But in this case, Varujan was right. He shouldn’t have come alone. Normally, Andrei wouldn’t have been so careless. But when he had caught wind of Varujan, he had to see where he was going. Vârcolacs, being fully-turned vampires, were natural enemies to the voinicos. The vârcolacs didn’t like any human, but they especially despised the voinicos. It was their defiance that made the vârcolacs the angriest. A voinico was a human who had been bitten by a vampire, but they had resisted the urge to feed on human blood for three long days and nights after having been bitten. In doing so, they had been spared the fate of becoming a vampire. It disgusted the vârcolacs. It wasn’t often that they chose to turn a human instead of feed on them. To see a human resist turning, it was as if they had spit in their faces. As far as the vârcolacs thought, it was a gift they had given a human when they allowed them to turn into a vampire. The voinicos were a reminder that there were humans who would defy them even after they had been spared of having their blood drained. When Andrei had followed Varujan, he hadn’t planned on getting close enough for Varujan to see him. He had only planned on following the vârcolac and then reporting back to his friends. It would give the vânătors the intel they needed to be able to track Varujan and fight him. That was the vânătors’ job. Hunt vârcolacs and extinguish them. If the vânătors were lucky, they would find other vârcolacs and destroy them also, although Andrei had hoped there wouldn’t be too many. Even though they had quite a number of vânătors ready and willing to fight, the vârcolacs were still stronger than them. If there were too many vârcolacs and not enough vânătors, it would be a bloodbath. Literally. “I’m surprised to hear you call me great,” Andrei said weakly. “You know I’m no match for you.” That was an understatement. When a voinico encountered a vârcolac, they became weak. Most even became paralyzed in the presence of a vârcolac. No one really knew why, but everyone believed it had something to do with the fact that they had been bitten by a vampire but hadn’t allowed themselves to turn. Being too close to a vârcolac was more than their bodies could handle. Andrei was definitely too close to Varujan now. There would be no chance of getting up and trying to run away. Not that it would do much good anyway. Vârcolacs were much faster than any voinico. Upon hearing Andrei’s feeble reply, Varujan laughed, but there was nothing light-hearted about it. It was a cruel and taunting laugh. “No, you are no match for me," Varujan said. “And yet, you still followed me. I suppose you thought you were far enough behind me that I wouldn’t sense you. It’s true that I wouldn’t sense a voinico as quickly as I would sense any ordinary human. Your blood did change after I bit you. If only you had fed within those first three days, you would now be nearly as strong as me.” Vampires gained strength as they aged, at least until they reached full maturity which usually didn’t happen until around a hundred years. Some continued to get stronger yet over the next few centuries. Indeed, if Andrei would have fed, he would be much stronger by now and would be close to matching Varujan in strength. But he would also be as evil. Andrei still remembered the night more than twenty years ago when he had first encountered Varujan. He had been naïve back then, not knowing anything about the dark creatures who lived in the outskirts of his world. Of course, he had heard of vampires. But like most other people, he had thought they were nothing more than fantasies meant to be a part of scary stories. He found out differently when he was bitten, and his life would never be the same again. “I regret nothing,” Andrei said. “Kill me if you must. But know that if you do, you will have ten or more vânătors hunting you down.” As if that wasn’t the case already! “Anyone I know?” Varujan’s voice sounded sarcastic. He was trying to upset Andrei further. Andrei had heard a rumor that Varujan and Antanasia knew about the girl. He had encountered one of Varujan’s servants, a human who was referred to as a paznic. Andrei had been forced to kill the young man when he was attacked by him. He still remembered the paznic trying to choke the life out of him. Of course, the paznic’s intention had been to take Andrei to Varujan. Andrei hadn’t doubted it in the least, knowing that Varujan hated him for not allowing himself to turn. He got the confirmation that he needed. As they struggled, the paznic admitted that his plan was to take Andrei to Varujan. Naturally, Varujan would want him alive. The paznic had hoped that Andrei would lose consciousness so that he could more easily take him to Varujan. Whatever happened, Andrei couldn’t die. The repercussions for that mistake would likely be fatal for the paznic. Andrei was strong, though, provided there were no vampires around. He was stronger than the paznic. Had he not been taken by surprise, the paznic wouldn’t have gotten him into a dangerous position in the first place. Andrei was able to push the paznic off of him. The paznic wouldn’t give up, though. However, his determination wasn’t enough to save him. As the fight continued, Andrei laid a blow to him that ended the paznic’s life. Before the paznic died, Andrei had gathered a little information. Nothing about Varujan’s and Antanasia’s whereabouts, unfortunately, but the girl’s name had come up. It had been a great distress for Andrei. How did the vârcolacs know about her? It frightened Andrei. And now, to hear Varujan’s tone, Andrei knew who he was talking about. “No!” Andrei shouted. “Not her! She will never fight you!” Varujan laughed. “Maybe you’re right. But then again, maybe you’re not,” he said. “Do you really think she can stay hidden forever?” “You and I both know that you will never leave the safety of your woods to track her down,” Andrei pointed out. Okay. So maybe Varujan would leave the woods on occasion to hunt in Cluj-Napoca. That was a city in the region of Transylvania. Like most locals, Varujan just called it Cluj. But Andrei knew that Varujan would never go beyond Cluj, and the girl was hidden much further away than that. “That much is true,” Varujan said. He looked down at Andrei, toying with him. “My, oh my!” Varujan spoke as he inhaled deeply, smelling the blood still oozing from Andrei’s leg. “You’d better get that tended to, or you may get a nasty infection. You might be stronger than you once were before I bit you, but like me, you are not immortal.” Even though vârcolacs were vampires, it was a myth that they were immortal. They did enjoy much longer life spans, however, often reaching a thousand years of age or more. Because they lived so long and aged so slowly, the myth had risen that vârcolacs were immortal. Of course, few people believed in vampires anyway, not until it was too late. Usually, once they met one, their life was about to end. Only the voinicos and vânătors knew that their enemies were mortal. They could be killed, but it wasn’t easy. It wasn’t like a voinico would do the killing, though. While they were significantly stronger than the average human, that strength faded whenever they came near a vârcolac. That would leave the fighting and killing to the vânătors who were the children of the voinicos. Depending on whether or not a vânător had one or both parents who were voinicos, they could be up to three times as strong as an ordinary human. Even so, a vârcolac was still stronger than even the strongest vânător, so the vânătors rarely hunted vârcolacs alone. On those rare occasions, it would be an unexpected hunt. Any organized hunting party would include several vânătors since no one knew how many vampires they might encounter. Still, plenty of vânătors stayed out of the hunt. They knew that they couldn’t send everyone out at once. If a hunting expedition went wrong, then there would be no one left to fight the remaining vârcolacs. “What do you care about my injury?” Andrei asked. “You and I both know you will end this here. I won’t live to see my wound tended to!” Varujan got down on the ground so quickly that Andrei didn’t even see the movement. It was as if Varujan was standing one moment and on the ground beside him the next. Varujan held Andrei down. Andrei struggled to move, but with the vârcolac so close to him, his whole body was paralyzed. Varujan leaned his mouth down to Andrei’s neck and let it hover about two inches above it. Andrei could feel Varujan’s breath on his skin. “This does bring back memories,” Varujan said, recalling the night so long ago when he had first bitten Andrei. “I didn’t think it would be a repeat performance. I thought you would be joining me and that we would be ruling the woods together by now.” “Never!” Andrei spat out the word. Tears spilled out of his eyes. He didn’t want to be afraid, but he was. He didn’t want to die at the hands of a vârcolac, let alone the one who had changed his life so long ago. Varujan lowered his teeth to Andrei’s neck. He exposed his fangs and felt the blood pulsing under Andrei’s skin. A strong desire came over him. Bite! Even though, a voinico’s blood wouldn’t taste good like a normal person’s blood would, it had been a while since Varujan had fed. He was hungry. Biting Andrei would be so easy. Of course, it wouldn’t do much for him. Once someone became a voinico, their blood changed. It didn’t nourish vampires, not like human blood. It would only take their mind off their hunger for a few minutes. Then, they would still be looking for someone to feed off of. Vânător blood was even worse. It made them slightly nauseated. The only reason to bite a vânător was if they were doing so in an attempt to kill them. There were much quicker ways to kill someone, so they rarely bit a vânător. Voinicos, on the other hand, could at least take their minds off their hunger for a short time. Andrei braced himself. He knew it would be quick. Once the vârcolac bit him, the blood wouldn’t remain in his body much longer. Within seconds, he would lose consciousness. Varujan could feel Andrei’s fear. It gave him a rush of adrenaline. That feeling was almost as satisfying as taking his victim’s blood. He let his fangs stay on Andrei’s neck for several moments so that he could enjoy that feeling for as long as possible. Finally, enough time had passed. He slowly pulled his mouth away from Andrei’s neck and pulled himself back up into a squatting position, looking down at his victim. Andrei was confused. Why hadn’t Varujan killed him? He knew it was what the vârcolac wanted to do more than anything. “I don’t understand,” Andrei muttered, still overwhelmed by what had just happened. Again, Varujan laughed. “No, I suppose you don’t,” he said. “But it’s not you I want. You know who it is that I’m after.” “No! Why?!” Andrei’s voice grew louder, his body pumping so much adrenaline that he felt slightly stronger. “Why?” Varujan asked bitterly. “Yes, why?” Andrei asked again. Varujan sighed. “It’s simple really,” Varujan said. “No one gets to escape their destiny.” “I’ll never tell you where she is, and you will never leave the woods to go find her,” Andrei reminded him. “You might as well kill me now. You’ll get nothing out of me!” “I don’t need to get anything out of you. And yes, I could kill you now,” Varujan said. “But then you wouldn’t be around when I do find her, or rather, when she finds me. You and I both know that it’s in a vânător’s blood to hunt vârcolacs. It doesn’t matter how far away you sent her. She will eventually fulfill her destiny. And when she does, I do want you to be around to enjoy the show.” “Never!” Andrei shouted. “I will kill you first myself!” It was an idle threat. He and Varujan both knew it. He was in no position to fight Varujan, let alone kill him. His body could barely move. He was at the vârcolac’s mercy. Varujan reached his finger down to Andrei’s leg. He scraped up the line of blood that was still slowly oozing out. He put it to his mouth and licked the blood off his finger. Just as he expected. “Kind of like eating stale food, if I remember right,” Varujan said, and then he laughed. “Still, stale or not, I am hungry.” How he would like more of Andrei’s blood even if it wouldn’t do much for him. It probably wouldn’t nourish him any more than a couple of potato chips would nourish a human. Still, it would alleviate his boredom and take his mind off of his hunger for a short time, maybe even long enough to go find a real meal in Cluj. How blissful it would be to drain Andrei’s entire body, but now wasn’t the time. He stood up and stared down at Andrei for a few moments. Neither of them said anything. Then, Varujan left at lightning speed, so quickly that it was all a blur to Andrei. After Varujan had been gone for a few minutes, Andrei’s strength slowly came back to him. He carefully pulled himself up and started hobbling back to the village to warn the others about what had just happened. Of course, there were certain details he would have to leave out.

4 out of 5 (very good)

Independent Reviewer for Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!

Yes!! What a brilliant start to what looks to be an awesome new series!

The Voinico's Daughter has everything you need to hook you into this cracking world of vampires, mystery and family dynamics. From high school to high profile, Nicoleta has a lot of adjusting to do and with some very powerful vampires to deal with learning the "trade" becomes even more if a priority.

I'm so glad I've had the opportunity to read this and I can't wait for the next instalment... I'm so impatient!! This is definitely a box of chocolates worthy, add in comfy pyjamas and you'll be transported to Romania in luxury.

** same worded review will appear elsewhere **

* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and the comments here are my honest opinion. *

Sallie Cochren is an Indie author who has published several books and short stories in a variety of genres. She writes fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and post-apocalyptic fiction, among others. She likes reading other authors' work as well and when she isn't busy writing her novels, she enjoys spending time with her cat or being in nature.

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