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Liz Kerin returns with “First Light” — the hotly anticipated sequel to “Night’s Edge” — a riveting and powerful new take on vampire tropes.

First Light

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In 2023, Liz Kerin invited readers into a world very much like our own – but with a growing vampire population – in her novel Night’s Edge. Now her new book First Light picks up where Night’s Edge left off.

Mia is a young queer woman caught between these vampires (called Saras in Kerin’s books) and their prey. Mia grew up with a single mom who was turned into a Sara by her abusive boyfriend Devon. That horrible moment in Mia’s life forever altered her relationship with her mother; bit by bit, her mother devolved from an artistic, caring parent to a frightening, manipulative stranger.

Mia has experienced firsthand how dangerous and painful Saras can be; while many want to live as peacefully as possible without converting others, some are violent and ill-intentioned.

Reeling from her mother’s gruesome death by sunlight as well as her first queer heartbreak in Night’s Edge, Mia wants to start a new life. Her fascination with Saras and her obsession with Devon (who is plotting to have Saras run the world) put her on a dangerous path, and Mia herself is assaulted and turned into a Sara.

Her thirst for revenge against the man who ruined her mother’s life becomes the driving force in her life in First Light.

Both of Kerin’s novels allow space for readers to interpret the theme of Saras in multiple ways.

Liz Kerin author photo

Author Liz Kerin

From some angles, Night’s Edge and First Light can be read as novels about the Other.

Mia especially has experience on both sides of life, as someone who was dependent on a Sara for her survival, then as someone who was able to understand more about her mother’s choices when she became a Sara.

It is impossible to read this book without thinking about the COVID-19 pandemic.

While there are obvious differences (most notably, COVID-19 didn’t leave anyone bloodthirsty or evil), the fear of being infected that runs through Kerin’s works echo the fear people were living in. When Mia moves to New York City, she is extremely anxious to walk around at night, fearing a Sara’s attack. It’s reminiscent of the dread many people (especially in crowded cities like New York) felt as they were unable to move about their neighborhoods normally; they had to be on constant alert.

That stress that many people feel in real life is reflected in Mia’s worries.

The language Kerin uses throughout First Light to place readers into Mia’s world – whether it’s on the streets of New York City, in a facility for cooperative Saras, or in a dangerous compound full of vengeful Saras – is as colorful as the themes of the novel are dark.

As Mia slowly begins a relationship with another young woman, she describes her changing feelings:

“There is something she’s trying to tell me.

Something I’ve been aching to hear.

My chest swells. Flowers bloom behind my eyes.”

While Kerin shows the more tender parts of Mia’s life, she doesn’t shy away from the more devastating feelings.

First Light

In a moment of disappointment, Mia says, “My stomach is syrupy with shame,” and in a moment of guilt, she says, “Self-loathing hangs on my shoulders like a filthy coat.”

The reader can easily see life through Mia’s eyes (and heart) with the visceral details Kerin provides.

While the lifestyle of a traumatized queer vampire may not be something readers have experienced, the raw emotions described in First Light are universal.

Just like Night’s Edge brought a younger, less certain Mia into readers’ lives, First Light brings a slightly older and warier version. Mia’s candidness about her feelings connects her with readers, allowing them to feel the terror of being trapped in such a dangerous world.

That same vulnerability keeps readers on her side throughout her journey, even when she may make mistakes as she struggles to find the best way through a harsh and frightening world.

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 3.5

FIRST LIGHT (Tor/Nightfire HC, eBook, and Macmillan Audio) will be available on April 24, 2024.

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