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HER SECRET MUST BE KEPT FOR ALL ETERNITY. Set in the otherworldly megalopolis that is today's Shanghai, Temple Drake's suspenseful first novel blends the gothic, the erotic, and the supernatural as it charts an intense and dangerous affair. One night in 2012, executive Zhang Guo Xing takes a group of European clients to a fashionable nightclub in Shanghai. While there, h HER SECRET MUST BE KEPT FOR ALL ETERNITY. Set in the otherworldly megalopolis that is today's Shanghai, Temple Drake's suspenseful first novel blends the gothic, the erotic, and the supernatural as it charts an intense and dangerous affair. One night in 2012, executive Zhang Guo Xing takes a group of European clients to a fashionable nightclub in Shanghai. While there, he meets a strikingly beautiful young Western woman called Naemi Vieno Kuusela. The physical attraction between them proves irresistible, and they embark on an intoxicating affair. But Naemi is not what she appears to be... To Zhang's surprise, she veers between passion and wariness, conducting the relationship entirely on her own terms. He feels driven to find out more about her, and is swiftly drawn into a web of intrigue, mystery, and horror. Is she a ghost? A demon? Do the living dead walk the streets of twenty-first century Shanghai? Written in spare, high-octane prose, NVK is the first in a series of dark, hypnotic novels that explore the roots of desire and the cruel costs of immortality.


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HER SECRET MUST BE KEPT FOR ALL ETERNITY. Set in the otherworldly megalopolis that is today's Shanghai, Temple Drake's suspenseful first novel blends the gothic, the erotic, and the supernatural as it charts an intense and dangerous affair. One night in 2012, executive Zhang Guo Xing takes a group of European clients to a fashionable nightclub in Shanghai. While there, h HER SECRET MUST BE KEPT FOR ALL ETERNITY. Set in the otherworldly megalopolis that is today's Shanghai, Temple Drake's suspenseful first novel blends the gothic, the erotic, and the supernatural as it charts an intense and dangerous affair. One night in 2012, executive Zhang Guo Xing takes a group of European clients to a fashionable nightclub in Shanghai. While there, he meets a strikingly beautiful young Western woman called Naemi Vieno Kuusela. The physical attraction between them proves irresistible, and they embark on an intoxicating affair. But Naemi is not what she appears to be... To Zhang's surprise, she veers between passion and wariness, conducting the relationship entirely on her own terms. He feels driven to find out more about her, and is swiftly drawn into a web of intrigue, mystery, and horror. Is she a ghost? A demon? Do the living dead walk the streets of twenty-first century Shanghai? Written in spare, high-octane prose, NVK is the first in a series of dark, hypnotic novels that explore the roots of desire and the cruel costs of immortality.

30 review for NVK

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nenia ✨️ I yeet my books back and forth ✨️ Campbell

    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest Edit/12/31/19: This book is $1.99 on Kindle today! It's so good, please check it out! I just finished beta-reading for one of my author friends, and I have a love-hate relationship with beta-reading for this author because nobody else writes stories like her, so whenever I finish one of her books, I always end up in the grand mother of book slumps-- at least until I get my hands on my next fix (WRITE FASTER). I was in a gloomy and creepy Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest Edit/12/31/19: This book is $1.99 on Kindle today! It's so good, please check it out! I just finished beta-reading for one of my author friends, and I have a love-hate relationship with beta-reading for this author because nobody else writes stories like her, so whenever I finish one of her books, I always end up in the grand mother of book slumps-- at least until I get my hands on my next fix (WRITE FASTER). I was in a gloomy and creepy mood, and wanted to read a book that was densely atmospheric, rich with erotic horror and morally grey characters. Much to my surprise, I found that in NVK, and it helped get me out of my slump because it was exactly the type of book I wanted. NVK is one of those books that kind of feels timeless. Reading it reminded me of the vampire and supernatural horror movies from the 80s and 90s, like Fright Night and Lost Boys, where they weren't strictly horror, in that they had romantic scenes and storylines, and explored themes that had more depth than their slasher movie cousins that seemed to serve more as morality plays dressed in gore. It was so good, and the suspense was kept up nicely throughout the story. Set in China, NVK is about a Chinese executive named Zhang who becomes enamored with a mysterious Finnish woman named Naemi. Zhang is a man that has everything, so the elusiveness of Naemi and the way she constantly keeps him hanging fascinates him. They end up dating and sleeping together, and becoming quite fond of each other, but there is something that is not quite right about Naemi. An old man recognizes her in a restaurant and thinks she's his friend from his college days, even though she's only in her twenties. One of Zhang's close friends is insistent that Naemi is a ghost with unfinished business. And Naemi herself, with her strange eyes and the mysterious scar on her upper arm, often defies human qualities, to the point that she seems otherworldly. This book was great. I see that it's the debut work of an author and supposed to be the first in a series, which has me very excited. I would gladly read the other books in the series by this author, because this one had such a great vibe. The spare writing managed to conjure up incredibly vivid scenes, and I liked the morose sense of doom that hung over the story, from start to finish. It's definitely not a read for those who want their books to be all sweetness and light, but I really enjoyed it. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!   4 stars

  2. 4 out of 5

    Issicratea

    NVK is the first attempt at genre fiction (of a kind) by the literary novelist Rupert Thomson, who has repackaged himself for the purpose with the splendidly hokey pseudonym, Temple Drake. It was Thomson’s authorship that enticed me to read the novel, rather than what I could glean of the conception or plot. I’ve always been intrigued by the phenomenon of the “doubled author,” especially when the doubling crosses the literary / genre divide, as with John Banville / Benjamin Black. NVK pitches it NVK is the first attempt at genre fiction (of a kind) by the literary novelist Rupert Thomson, who has repackaged himself for the purpose with the splendidly hokey pseudonym, Temple Drake. It was Thomson’s authorship that enticed me to read the novel, rather than what I could glean of the conception or plot. I’ve always been intrigued by the phenomenon of the “doubled author,” especially when the doubling crosses the literary / genre divide, as with John Banville / Benjamin Black. NVK pitches itself in genre terms as supernatural / horror, but you shouldn’t let that put you off if fear isn’t your thing. No one is going to be sleeping with the light on after reading this book. It strikes its camp on the Hoffmanesque terrain of the uncanny than anything more gory or ghoulish. It’s as much an analysis of trauma and its psychological effects as anything (something that may come out of Thomson’s own past, from the sound of his memoir This Party’s Got to Stop). One thing I liked about the novel—apart from the delicately drawn, wary erotic and psychological skirmishing between the two protagonists—was its setting in contemporary Shanghai. I haven’t been to the city and so can’t judge its authenticity, but Thomson’s portrait was certainly vivid and compelling, suspended between a sleek, globalized modernity and stranger, older, crustier substrates. That, and the novel’s highly refined, allusive style, make it very pleasurable reading. Thomson’s writing is as beautiful as I had remembered it from his historical novel Secrecy, which I read a few years ago. Looking back at my review of Secrecy, I notice that I commented that it seemed to rather lose its way towards the end, after a strong start. I felt the same about NVK. It fades out in the last stretch, rather than sustaining your attention to the end, as you might expect especially in genre fiction. Thomson reminds me a little in that regard of Andrew Miller, another British writer of around the same generation, who is a similarly immaculate stylist and a memorable crafter of striking fictional worlds, but whose novels tend to fall out of shape before the end.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bookphenomena (Micky)

    This book could not be further out of my usual reading comfort zone if it tried and yet that synopsis reeled me in like a newborn flounder. It claims to be a page-turner and it was definitely that, I read it in one sitting on a Saturday afternoon/evening. The story intrigued me, creeped me out and kept me guessing. The cover and the title are very clever. Don’t wander into this book if you have sensitive scruples or a weak stomach. Do wander into the book if it’s out of your comfort zone, I don’t This book could not be further out of my usual reading comfort zone if it tried and yet that synopsis reeled me in like a newborn flounder. It claims to be a page-turner and it was definitely that, I read it in one sitting on a Saturday afternoon/evening. The story intrigued me, creeped me out and kept me guessing. The cover and the title are very clever. Don’t wander into this book if you have sensitive scruples or a weak stomach. Do wander into the book if it’s out of your comfort zone, I don’t like horror and this was just creepy at times, not scary. Zhang, the protagonist, had a wife and son living elsewhere and on the periphery of the story, they really did not factor into his high-powered business Shanghai life. Naemi’s story was creepy from it’s start a long time ago, she was of Sami/Finnish heritage and she had travelled the world. The relationship between these two was both restrained and passionate with neither of them in control or understanding each other. I was there to find out who or what Naemi was and I actually felt sorry for her a number of times. The Mad Dog character brought a real richness to the story and I enjoyed reading about the doubts he created in Zhang’s mind. As the book progressed the creep-factor increased for me. Please bear in mind that I am a wuss with scary books and so for many I am sure the creepiness would be mild. The book reached a cresendo and then ended with a question mark for me. Nevertheless, I was satisfied with the culmination, mystery and the story as a whole. I would definitely read Temple Drake again. Thank you to Titan Books for early copy for review. You can find this review on A Take From Two Cities Blog.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bria

    This book had such an amazing premise. If a couple changes were made, it honestly could have become one of my favorite books. A couple great ideas were messed together in this novel: 1. Finnish culture and Sami legend 2. Chinese ghost stories and horror 3. Paranormal romance with murder and thriller aspects But unfortunately the plot didn’t allow all of these aspects to fully develop. I think if the book only had one POV, and NVKs was deleted, the book actually would have been much better and creepier This book had such an amazing premise. If a couple changes were made, it honestly could have become one of my favorite books. A couple great ideas were messed together in this novel: 1. Finnish culture and Sami legend 2. Chinese ghost stories and horror 3. Paranormal romance with murder and thriller aspects But unfortunately the plot didn’t allow all of these aspects to fully develop. I think if the book only had one POV, and NVKs was deleted, the book actually would have been much better and creepier. Instead her sections just answered every question about her existence and habits leaving nothing left for the reader to mull over or be scared by. Spoilers— NVK is a vampire who drinks her own blood after her family was murdered when she was a child. She travels around making up new lives as she goes but she always keeps her original initials. I found this idea to be fascinating. The writing mentioned so many great examples of ghost stories in Sami and Chinese culture. It was a new take on the vampire genre. But the romance was so bad it made the entire novel seem petty and immature. Zhang starts dating NVK without any knowledge about what she is. Then one of his band members starts warning him to stay away from her. This made no sense. NVK hadn’t done anything weird. She and Zhang were already having an affair. His friend honestly had nothing to base his suspicions on so they came across as silly even though he was right. Later on it is revealed that Zhangs friend is an expert on Chinese ghosts, but that information didn’t line up with the climax of the book either. NVK does nothing frightening and hurts no one. Her POV sections make her seem innocent and childish. So why all the warnings?? Then her actions, NVK tells a monster to back off from Zhangs sister for some weird reason, cause Zhangs death in the epilogue. It was a weird ending. I was expecting Zhang to die, but I imagined it would be a mercy killing by NVK after he discovered her secret, not a random shooting by a 2D gangster that had two lines in the book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Baal Of

    This was the last book scheduled for the Nightmare Factory book club before the Covid-19 lockdown ended our meetings. My impression from the messages of other members of the club was that all or most of them did not like this book at all, and yet for me it hit hard and I loved it. I considered whether or not to actually write a review because explaining why I connected so much with this novel only makes sense within the context of something personal that happened to me the year before, and tryin This was the last book scheduled for the Nightmare Factory book club before the Covid-19 lockdown ended our meetings. My impression from the messages of other members of the club was that all or most of them did not like this book at all, and yet for me it hit hard and I loved it. I considered whether or not to actually write a review because explaining why I connected so much with this novel only makes sense within the context of something personal that happened to me the year before, and trying to explain those events has the potential of sounding like self-aggrandizement, or outright bullshit. With that caveat in place, I'm going to hide this review behind spoiler tags, but not because I'm actually giving any spoilers. (view spoiler)[ I've been divorced for 10+ years now I think (my memory for when things happened is terrible). Since the divorce I have not dated, and have had no intention of ever dating or being in a relationship ever again. I'm done. In the last few years, roller skating has become a very important part of my life, in part because it provided a huge amount of social interaction where I met lots of people and could just be friends. in 2019 through no action or pursuit on my part, a woman started skating with me. To keep this brief, it eventually developed into fiery romance of a few month in which I fell hard for her, and she eventually pulled back because she had deep-seated trust issues and an inability to communicate. No big deal, right, the kind of thing that happens to people. For me this was particularly bizarre and unexpected, because it turns out that she was a literal beauty queen of the Miss Universe pageants, which means she was extremely guarded about anyone knowing anything about her past, which is how this all ties into the book. And here's where it gets difficult to talk about this without sounding like I am making myself out to be something when I'm not. The parallels in the relation between Victor Zhang and NVK and that between me and this woman were uncanny. So many small details kept hitting me as if they had been taken right out of my own experience. In particular the way the NVK was constantly hiding certain details of herself from Zhang, constantly keeping him out felt exactly like my own circumstance. Now I am nowhere near the kind of wealth that Zhang had, and of course the woman I was involved with was not subsisting on her own blood, so of course it's not a perfect parallel. But she did have severe boughts of depression during which her behavior was much like some of NVK's. (hide spoiler)] This is not the kind of book I'm going to go out and recommend to a lot of people. It came to me at a very appropriate time in my life, and my reaction to it was intense and deeply visceral. I hope I don't regret posting this. I guess I can always delete it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lillian

    NVK is amazing. I can best describe it as a literary noir thriller steeped in Finnish culture with a supernatural core. It sounds like an ambitious mash-up but Temple Drake not only makes it work but makes it believable as well. Whoa! Reading a book in one sitting these days is challenging with SO many distractions in our fast paced world. (It always was fast paced but technology seems to have accelerated the speed if that is at all possible). With Drake's vivid, complex characters, finely craft NVK is amazing. I can best describe it as a literary noir thriller steeped in Finnish culture with a supernatural core. It sounds like an ambitious mash-up but Temple Drake not only makes it work but makes it believable as well. Whoa! Reading a book in one sitting these days is challenging with SO many distractions in our fast paced world. (It always was fast paced but technology seems to have accelerated the speed if that is at all possible). With Drake's vivid, complex characters, finely crafted narrative and masterful pacing the author fairly demands this kind of immersive experience, which is exactly what happened with me. It was impossible to stop reading it until I turned the very last page and believe me it was rewarding. I came to know the characters intimately and fear for them. AND, had trouble sleeping the night after. Read NVK for it's uniqueness, the global setting, and superb storytelling. Thank you Other Press for the ARE

  7. 4 out of 5

    OutlawPoet

    So, I hate the title of this book. Even now that I understand where it comes from, I hate it. It's not intriguing. It's just...confusing. But I really liked the book! This is very mysterious and extremely compelling. I found myself really liking the characters - even those I really shouldn't like so much. The cultural bits about modern China were terrific and the supernatural elements - ephemeral as they were - were great. I finished this feeling happy that I'd read it! So, I hate the title of this book. Even now that I understand where it comes from, I hate it. It's not intriguing. It's just...confusing. But I really liked the book! This is very mysterious and extremely compelling. I found myself really liking the characters - even those I really shouldn't like so much. The cultural bits about modern China were terrific and the supernatural elements - ephemeral as they were - were great. I finished this feeling happy that I'd read it!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Man this one is good!! Great setting, writing, story line, very hard to hook me but this one has it!!!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cher

    4 stars - It was great. I loved it. We wish to keep our youth, and wait for wealth and honor. But wealth and honor do not come, and youth departs. - Po Chu-I An intriguing and memorable novel that moves quietly along an original path. I really enjoyed the folklore that was included as well as the author’s quotable prose. ------------------------------------------- Favorite Quote: We’re all riddles, aren’t we, even to ourselves. First Sentence: Afterwards, she couldn’t remember how she came to be hi 4 stars - It was great. I loved it. We wish to keep our youth, and wait for wealth and honor. But wealth and honor do not come, and youth departs. - Po Chu-I An intriguing and memorable novel that moves quietly along an original path. I really enjoyed the folklore that was included as well as the author’s quotable prose. ------------------------------------------- Favorite Quote: We’re all riddles, aren’t we, even to ourselves. First Sentence: Afterwards, she couldn’t remember how she came to be hiding.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Heather *Undercover Goth Queen*

    At first, I was afraid I wasn't going to like this book. The narration style was very distant, which I don't normally enjoy. It reminded me of the writing in Captive Prince, only with more description. Gradually I found myself drawn into the story, and I finished the book quickly. Despite the dry style, I had some really good visuals in my mind, and I think this would make a really interesting movie, with wet and steamy streets lit with neon. Nenia, Queen of Bodice Rippers, sent me this, because At first, I was afraid I wasn't going to like this book. The narration style was very distant, which I don't normally enjoy. It reminded me of the writing in Captive Prince, only with more description. Gradually I found myself drawn into the story, and I finished the book quickly. Despite the dry style, I had some really good visuals in my mind, and I think this would make a really interesting movie, with wet and steamy streets lit with neon. Nenia, Queen of Bodice Rippers, sent me this, because she knows how much I enjoy vampire stories. So now I will pass it on as well, to the illustrious Vampire Ninja!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Paige Mcgreevy

    This book is brilliant. Reminds me of Murikami. Couldn’t put it down.

  12. 5 out of 5

    David Harris

    I'm grateful to Titan Books for an advance copy of NVK. I loved this book. Interlacing the lives of a mysterious young Finnish woman, Noemi Vieno Kuusela, and of a Shanghai businessman, Zhang Guo Xing, NVK blends cultures, genres and the ages. The book opens in a flashback to a murder which took place hundreds of years before in North Karelia, before jumping into Zhang's life. He's a powerful man, someone with money and influence and friends who's familiar with the nightclubs and bars of Shanghai - I'm grateful to Titan Books for an advance copy of NVK. I loved this book. Interlacing the lives of a mysterious young Finnish woman, Noemi Vieno Kuusela, and of a Shanghai businessman, Zhang Guo Xing, NVK blends cultures, genres and the ages. The book opens in a flashback to a murder which took place hundreds of years before in North Karelia, before jumping into Zhang's life. He's a powerful man, someone with money and influence and friends who's familiar with the nightclubs and bars of Shanghai - Drake gives us vivid descriptions of a hedonistic, money-fuelled scene all taking place under the harsh nighttime neon of a city on the make and on the rise. Zhang's at home there, clearly, and he's keeping his family - a wife and son - at a distance, phoning them infrequently and simply paying the bills. So when Noemi turns up in a club one night its hardly surprising that they end up having an affair, or possibly something more casual. Yet Zhang seems to see something in her apart from the surface allure - so much so that he sets one of his fixers to find out more about her. Pretty soon he knows all isn't as it seems. Noemi has reasons, going back to that remote farmhouse in Karelia, to not be known about, remembered, or recognised. So a dance commences between the two, suspicion and caution entwined with appetite and sensuality. From one perspective there's something very wrong here, a great danger - this is, genuinely, a horror story - but there's also a great passion and there are I think no bad intentions (which isn't to say no-one gets hurt). This isn't the story of a scary monster in the dark, indeed the dark here is vital, pulsing with life, with abandon. (Zhang also moonlights in a blues band with a bunch of old friends and Drake's account of their relationship and of a session they give is wonderful, full of joy and sweat and glory). And so the old story takes off, Drake giving hints of some darkness, something Noemi can't, in the end, get away from, something Zhang would rather not know about, their relationship increasingly knotted by what each known about the other, about themself. It feels high risk, something in a precarious balance, only enduring so long as it's in motion, so long as there are distractions. And increasingly, it's out of anyone's power to rescue, too stabilise. So - a strikingly modern, horror/ romance, deeply atmospheric, very much rooted in a place and time. I've never been to China, still less Shanghai but this book gives a vivid picture of that city - both its modern affectations and accomplishments and the older, shabbier ways tucked - literally or metaphorically - behind the modern facade. Ways that remember how to deal with a ghost, a monster. This is a book that made me gobble up page after page, impatient for the next scene, the next insight, the next steps in the increasingly wild dance. It's one I'd strongly recommend.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Karellen

    First thing is this: the book description on GR is incorrect. It’s not Temple Drake’s first novel, because it’s a pseudonym. One can find this information from the inside of the paperback version published by Titan books. It’s the pen name, for this book anyway, of the rather brilliant author Rupert Thomson. Turning to the novel itself, the prologue is set in 16th century Finland, where a young girl sees her family life destroyed. The action then leaps forward to this century in Shanghai, and th First thing is this: the book description on GR is incorrect. It’s not Temple Drake’s first novel, because it’s a pseudonym. One can find this information from the inside of the paperback version published by Titan books. It’s the pen name, for this book anyway, of the rather brilliant author Rupert Thomson. Turning to the novel itself, the prologue is set in 16th century Finland, where a young girl sees her family life destroyed. The action then leaps forward to this century in Shanghai, and the mysterious appearance of a young Finnish woman. Once again, this author gives us an intriguing tale that is gripping, a real page turner. On several levels this story resonates with me. The uncanny way that the central character NVK moves stealthily through her milieu, changing chameleon like to suit her surroundings, yet always herself. I won’t spoil it for you, just sit back and take a roller coaster ride through this one. Hugely recommended, as indeed are any of his previous novels.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Pam

    I found the pace of the book to be slow, yet I couldn’t stop reading. I was extremely intrigued by Naemi’s story. There was an element of mystery that kept me reading.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Trish Campbell

    I just couldn't get into this book This book just dragged on and on. I had a hard time staying interested in the end I just couldn't finish it. It was a waste of my time. I read such positive reviews that I wanted to give it a chance. I got the chapter 11 and gave up. Nothing was happening. I just couldn't get into this book This book just dragged on and on. I had a hard time staying interested in the end I just couldn't finish it. It was a waste of my time. I read such positive reviews that I wanted to give it a chance. I got the chapter 11 and gave up. Nothing was happening.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Noelle

    Very interesting take on the vampire legend-(SPOILER ALERT) -Naemi actually subsists by drinking her own blood and through her spells-(SAMI ancestry). Quite a classy read with intriguing plot twists, but was disappointed in the ending.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Wendy Yan

    Pretty good book..though did it ever address how Naemi came to this state?

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com Mystery & Thriller

    Naemi Vieno Kuusela is not the person she appears to be. Much older than her young appearance betrays, she is, above all else, lonely and craving companionship. The companionship is easy enough to come by when the need arises. It’s her other cravings that are another matter, and it’s those cravings that make the loneliness she lives with her forever companion. Naemi’s current life began after the decimation of her family. She was the lone survivor of the massacre, and remembers little of that day Naemi Vieno Kuusela is not the person she appears to be. Much older than her young appearance betrays, she is, above all else, lonely and craving companionship. The companionship is easy enough to come by when the need arises. It’s her other cravings that are another matter, and it’s those cravings that make the loneliness she lives with her forever companion. Naemi’s current life began after the decimation of her family. She was the lone survivor of the massacre, and remembers little of that day or her previous life --- except for the blood, her blood, that forever transformed her life. In the years to come, her lack of aging becomes noticeable to others around her, which means that the life she hoped to have is now out of her grasp. The reality of her life pressed down on her --- she doesn’t age, and she needs to drink blood, her own blood, to survive. When she becomes attracted to a businessman while living in Shanghai, Naemi thinks that the one-night stand will be enough to ease her loneliness. In the past, her short-lived affairs have always been enough for her. But this time, it’s the intensity of the attraction that gets to her, and she lets her guard down. When Naemi finds herself becoming more attracted to Zhang Guo Xing, it worries her. She wonders if she will be able to walk away from this affair cleanly. She knows that she has to move on before he becomes curious about her and her past, but she can’t bring herself to leave him. From the moment that Zhang sees Naemi, he is obsessed. He wants to know who she is, where she lives, what she does for a living, how a woman with pale skin, pale hair and pale eyes has come to be in Shanghai. He wants, more than anything, to be with her. Their mutual attraction brings them together initially, but neither seems willing or able to walk away from what should have been a one-night stand, even when every warning sign tells them that they must end the affair. Naemi spends her life re-inventing herself and then moving on, knowing that she can’t remain in any place for long or questions will be asked --- questions she doesn’t want to answer. The one constant in the ever-changing life she leads are her initials, NVK, the only tie to her past that she allows herself during each re-invention. I love when a genre I think I know surprises me. Temple Drake does just that in NVK. She gave me a world that’s so much more entrancing, dark and fascinating than that of a typical vampire story. Here, the vampires are trapped between the folds of the living world, hoping that no one will ask where they came from. It’s intriguing, dangerous and oh so wonderful, and it makes you think of this world as a place where only vampires exist, weaving in and out of human lives as though they were smoke and not real at all. I fell hard for this story and want more of this gritty, dark world. Supernatural tales that shock are ones that I want to read again and again, which is why I’m happy to see that Drake will be exploring more of NVK’s world. I want more of the people and more of this world. I can’t tell you how excited I am about this new series. Reviewed by Amy Gwiazdowski

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jami Murphy

    I usually read darker books during October. I had this one on my shelf, so I dove right in without reviews. I like, but don’t like, this book. Without writing an essay I’m going to hit a few elements that stood out for me. I was immediately reminded of Murakami. There is a similarity in writing style and storytelling that is indisputably shared. I am a fan of Murakami so this was a big plus for me as a reader. It also has a Bladerunner vibe. I’m not sure why, but I like it. This is a relationshi I usually read darker books during October. I had this one on my shelf, so I dove right in without reviews. I like, but don’t like, this book. Without writing an essay I’m going to hit a few elements that stood out for me. I was immediately reminded of Murakami. There is a similarity in writing style and storytelling that is indisputably shared. I am a fan of Murakami so this was a big plus for me as a reader. It also has a Bladerunner vibe. I’m not sure why, but I like it. This is a relationship story about a twenty-something Finnish woman and a forty-something Chinese man. Naemi, the woman Zhang becomes involved with, is very private, and her privacy makes her seem mysterious, even odd, to Zhang. I don’t generally like books written by men about women. That’s a very specific and horribly prejudiced statement. And unfortunately, NVK has an overtly masculine perspective for a story about a female protagonist who may or may not be some kind of supernatural aberration. Which, for me, was a huge disappointment. Naemi , or NVK, is a twenty something female who has a dancer’s body, with long, tousled, light blonde hair, who wears luxurious, sexy clothing. The story is set in Hong Kong, and well duh, of course the tall, white, blonde NVK looks out of place. Many of the book’s characters comment on her foreign beauty. I found this ridiculous. If the main character is an Asian man living in China, why not have an Asian female protagonist? It would have been far more interesting than the fair skin, blonde one. We’ve had enough of those characters. Just saying. Also, a white English man writing in the voice of an Asian man, in Asian culture- I’m just not here for it. I suppose it works but mostly I found a lot of the cultural elements in the story overdrawn. I had to embrace my suspension of belief and just go with it, particularly since I know absolutely nothing about Hong Kong. Even though this is a very cool story I was turned off by the rich guy narrative. After Fifty Shades of Gray and four years of Trump, rich guys driving expensive cars, living in expensive hotels, eating in expensive restaurants, and wearing expensive designer clothing is not sexy. It’s boring. The really interesting part of the story is the Chinese folklore and NVK herself. Had the story dealt less with creating an atmosphere of wealth and privilege in contemporary China and focused more on NVK, it would have been a very clever, unusual take on a very overdone subject. You see, I did not give away WHAT that subject is. That is what is compelling about this story. Good, not great. I’m sure I will take a look at Temple Drake’s next book in the series to see if he rises to the challenge. It seems that NVK will be moving on to another location and I’m interested in what her new travels will bring.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Zia

    3.5* Set in contemporary Shanghai, a Chinese businessman and a Finnish woman meet at a club. However, the affair that begins to unfold between them on the backdrop of a pulsating metropolis is anything but ordinary one. Because not everything is at it seems on the first glance, and everybody have their reasons why some things should remain hidden. There are several aspects I loved about this book. First, it is set in Shanghai, China. Not only it is very refreshing to read something located in the 3.5* Set in contemporary Shanghai, a Chinese businessman and a Finnish woman meet at a club. However, the affair that begins to unfold between them on the backdrop of a pulsating metropolis is anything but ordinary one. Because not everything is at it seems on the first glance, and everybody have their reasons why some things should remain hidden. There are several aspects I loved about this book. First, it is set in Shanghai, China. Not only it is very refreshing to read something located in the Far East but the author seems to know the city well, as well as the lifestyle of its elite inhabitants. Most stereotypes are avoided. I always appreciate the authenticity and effort put in the research. Second, I loved the writing and the dark, suspenseful atmosphere. Temple Drake manages to capture certain feelings excellently with just few observations and descriptions. I would like to learn that art. It is certain that something bad happens sooner or later and it hangs above you from the beginning. And when something finally does happen, there is no relief - the heaviness doesn't go anywhere. Somehow slow tempo with which the story unfolds contributes to the overall darkness. We are observing the daily life of the protagonists and how the affair they begin creeps into it and takes more and more space. At the same time, however, there is a certain poetic aspect that decorated the story beautifully - vases in the museum, time spent when commuting (though in one's Jaguar), that swimming pool in Holiday Inn... Third, I liked the characters, both protagonists and side characters. They felt human (even if some of them weren't) and real and I liked how the author played with features that made them unique. Fourth, that flash of true state of things near the end was done very well and reading that in the night when I was alone gave me goosebumps. Fifth, I liked the original take on the well known (and for many readers discredited) theme. What I didn't like, though, was the ending. It was somehow anti-climactic and didn't do justice all that slowly built suspense. I felt that that one storyline was connected too losely to the main one and it was hard for me to believe why things happened that way. Nevertheless, for a debut novel this is a great work and if it is the first in series, I will be excited for next installments.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Alex (ReadingBetweenTheNotes)

    First of all, this book has one of the most captivating opening chapters I have read in a long long time. I knew right away that I was going to be gripped from start to finish. One of the things I loved most about this book was the scene-setting. The majority of the book is set in the bustling city streets of Shanghai and the descriptions were so vivid, despite not being flowery. I could totally imagine the sights, sounds and even smells of each scene – and you all know how much I love that senso First of all, this book has one of the most captivating opening chapters I have read in a long long time. I knew right away that I was going to be gripped from start to finish. One of the things I loved most about this book was the scene-setting. The majority of the book is set in the bustling city streets of Shanghai and the descriptions were so vivid, despite not being flowery. I could totally imagine the sights, sounds and even smells of each scene – and you all know how much I love that sensory information 😉 There are also some flashback scenes set in northern Finland and the contrast was utterly perfect. Everything about this book flowed so seamlessly. Scene changes, introduction of characters – there was just a sense of ease to everything. It’s difficult for me to describe as it’s not something I’ve ever been consciously aware of until recently. I just found this book so fantastically easy to read and before I knew it, I was finished. At the heart of the novel is a mystery, though it’s unlike any mystery I have read before. The stakes are raised continuously, another reason for why I could not stop reading. My one slight complaint is that the ending is left slightly unresolved and you as a reader have to make what you will of the situation. I didn’t feel hugely satisfied with this and wanted definitive answers to certain questions. As far as I am aware, this book is a standalone (always a bonus!) However, I was highly impressed by it and would certainly be willing to read more about the mysterious NVK! I think the potential is definitely there for Temple Drake to continue this story. But equally, it stands so well on its own. So I guess I don’t know which I’d prefer haha. I know, I’m so helpful. All I know is that you should definitely give it a read… 😉

  22. 4 out of 5

    Amy Walker - Trans-Scribe Reviews

    It's hard to put a finger on exactly what genre NVK fits into best. There are elements of horror, a lot of romance, and some mystery thrown in too. At it's heart I felt that NVK was a story about people, and even though it embraced the fantastical at times. The narrative follows Zhang, a Shanghai businessman, who meets the beautiful and mysterious Naemi one evening in a bar. Zhang is a successful, middle-aged man who seems to have everything he could want; he's rich, has a great career, a wife an It's hard to put a finger on exactly what genre NVK fits into best. There are elements of horror, a lot of romance, and some mystery thrown in too. At it's heart I felt that NVK was a story about people, and even though it embraced the fantastical at times. The narrative follows Zhang, a Shanghai businessman, who meets the beautiful and mysterious Naemi one evening in a bar. Zhang is a successful, middle-aged man who seems to have everything he could want; he's rich, has a great career, a wife and son, yet there's something about Naemi that enraptures him and makes him want her. Naemi also sees something desirable in Zhang, and the two of them engage in a passionate affair that begins to border on obsession for both of them. What makes this love story different from others is that the reader is let in on the secret that Naemi is actually hundreds of years old, with the very first chapter being set in the 1500's. It's never actually stated what Naemi is, though there are several theories given forward during the narrative. She has some vampire-like tenancies, but only ever drinks her own blood and not anyone else's, it's also speculated that she might be some kind of blood drinking ghost. Naemi's true identity and her origins don't really seem to matter though, as the book sidesteps giving readers any answers or explanations in favour of focusing on the relationship between the leads. I have to be honest, I'm not one who loves romance stories, and can sometimes get bored with them, and the main thing that kept me interested during NVK was hoping that I would get to find out what Naemi is, or that the book would take a darker twist towards the end, playing into the hints of horror that were sprinkled throughout. As this never happened, I was left contemplating the relationship between Zhang and Naemi. I didn't like their relationship. First of all, Zhang is a married man and has a kid, yet seems happy to have a very sexual affair with a woman he thinks is close to two decades his junior. It's even suggested more than once that this is not the first time that he has cheated on his wife. Whilst you never actually see his wife during the book, and it appears that she and Zhang's son are either living elsewhere whilst Zhang works, or that they're potentially separated, the book never comes out and confirms that the marriage is bad or unhappy. As a result, Zhang just seems like a cheater who doesn't care about anyone's happiness but his own. Thankfully, he shows concern for friends later in the book that at least show he has something of a heart. Zhang also stalks Naemi several times during the book, even before he starts to think that she might be something other than human; as such, you can't even blame him searching for answers as his reasoning. He follows Naemi from her work, stalks her across the city, and even hires someone to dig up information on her. Whilst some people might think that this is somehow romantic, I just saw it as possessive and creepy. He's a man using his wealth and power to get what he wants. Naemi, at least, isn't some young, impressionable woman who can fall victim to such stalkerish tendencies, and thanks to her centuries of experience proves to be something of a match for Zhang, being just as deceitful and manipulative. She lies to him about her past and who she is, which is understandable, but when she begins faking international trips so that she can stalk and confront Zhang's friends she becomes just as creepy and manipulative I don't like how the characters act towards each other, I don't like that lies and manipulation seems to be the go to tactic for everyone here, even the side characters. As such, I struggled to connect to anyone and really didn't care about the relationship between Naemi and Zhang. They were just as bad as each other. This disappointment might come from romance not being my favourite genre, and for being disappointed that there wasn't more focus on the supernatural elements of the story. I'm sure that there will be readers who pick up the book and really enjoy it, because it is a well written piece of fiction. One of the things that I really liked about it was how Temple Drake managed to create moody and atmospheric scenes pretty much all the time. They were able to use Shanghai to craft locations that felt bright and vivid, the playgrounds of the rich and famous; yet also at times it became a dark and brooding backdrop that heightened the sense of horror and the supernatural. It was almost cinematic in its imagery, and you could easily picture these places in your head even if you'd never been to Shanghai yourself. NVK might not be a book that set my world on fire, but it was still a well crafted and well written story that managed to keep my interest for the most part. Whilst I would have liked it to have gone in a different direction, perhaps this will be something that the writer will explore in future books featuring the character. As is, this is a story that will definitely appeal to fans of supernatural romance. Read more reviews by Amy at www.trans--scribe.blogspot.com

  23. 4 out of 5

    Paul L Kane

    A tale full of ambiguities... A ghost story from the mists of Finnish Karelia, Chinese folklore, a strange man who comes and goes and wears a pale blue suit and pulls a pale blue suitcase. A businessman who lives a semi-detached life, moving between bars and parties and shady dives - the flashing lights and dank creeks and concrete and the semi-occulted past of Shanghai. You can smell Shanghai in this writing. And his impossibly beautiful 'lover' with her blue eyes and blonde hair... who sneaks A tale full of ambiguities... A ghost story from the mists of Finnish Karelia, Chinese folklore, a strange man who comes and goes and wears a pale blue suit and pulls a pale blue suitcase. A businessman who lives a semi-detached life, moving between bars and parties and shady dives - the flashing lights and dank creeks and concrete and the semi-occulted past of Shanghai. You can smell Shanghai in this writing. And his impossibly beautiful 'lover' with her blue eyes and blonde hair... who sneaks out of Kiran Millwood Hargrave's 'The Mercies', escaping the irons and stakes of Cunningham... (read that too...) "You think you know what I am. You have no idea. I’m not in any of your books. You try to catch me. Your hands grasp empty air. I’m not a story you can tell." No-one in this story really knows who the other really is. No-one really commits to love. Everything is, in the end, ambiguous. What is in the blue suitcase? It's a well-told and slightly disturbing story. Perhaps a very disturbing story. The only 'off note' for me is the (necessary?) intrusion of the side-story of Cho En Lai, who provides a resolution, of sorts. But only of sorts...

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    This debut novel by Temple Drake is the story of an “auto-vampire” Naemi and her whirlwind love affair with a Chinese business man Zhang. Zhang becomes totally intoxicated by her, and attempts to understand her very private life. This slow building story was dark and read like a very creepy vampire movie. It also somehow struck me as extremely poetic, which was original and somewhat beautiful. The Chinese historical aspects of the book were very interesting. Several characters were introduced as This debut novel by Temple Drake is the story of an “auto-vampire” Naemi and her whirlwind love affair with a Chinese business man Zhang. Zhang becomes totally intoxicated by her, and attempts to understand her very private life. This slow building story was dark and read like a very creepy vampire movie. It also somehow struck me as extremely poetic, which was original and somewhat beautiful. The Chinese historical aspects of the book were very interesting. Several characters were introduced as co-stars, most of whom were important. This seems to be the first of a series and I figure sections of the story were left hanging or loose and will become clearer in the follow ups. It being described as “erotic” was a stretch which I was happy about-lol. All in all, a very different read for me but enjoyable nonetheless.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jenn

    This book was definitely an impulse buy. It’s not something I’d normally choose, but there was something about it I found compelling. I can’t quite put my finger on it. When I sat down to read it, I was happy to discover that it was absolutely worth the purchase. One thing I really enjoyed about this novel was the writing style. Temple Drake writes with a sense of urgency that kept me turning the pages and invested in the story. It was also lovely and philosophical and thoughtful. I was very sur This book was definitely an impulse buy. It’s not something I’d normally choose, but there was something about it I found compelling. I can’t quite put my finger on it. When I sat down to read it, I was happy to discover that it was absolutely worth the purchase. One thing I really enjoyed about this novel was the writing style. Temple Drake writes with a sense of urgency that kept me turning the pages and invested in the story. It was also lovely and philosophical and thoughtful. I was very surprised to see that this was a debut. I also think the character development was well-done. I really liked reading from both Zhang’s and Naemi’s perspectives and experiencing the story through their eyes. There was something very film noir about this novel, and I really enjoyed the whole experience. I highly recommend this book and look forward to what else this author has in store.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Pamela Scott

    https://thebookloversboudoir.wordpres... I wanted to read NVK as soon as I read the blurb. It sounded amazing. It was. My expectations are very happy. This reminded me a lot of some of my favourite horror movies I watched growing up in the 80’s such as Fright Night and The Lost Boys. I also enjoy books set in China. There’s something I really love about the culture. The relationship between Zhang and Naemi is intriguing and very creepy as well. Just what is their deal? Zhang is clearly besotted w https://thebookloversboudoir.wordpres... I wanted to read NVK as soon as I read the blurb. It sounded amazing. It was. My expectations are very happy. This reminded me a lot of some of my favourite horror movies I watched growing up in the 80’s such as Fright Night and The Lost Boys. I also enjoy books set in China. There’s something I really love about the culture. The relationship between Zhang and Naemi is intriguing and very creepy as well. Just what is their deal? Zhang is clearly besotted with her. Naemi just comes across as not quite, otherworldly and mysterious and not always in a nice way. Poor Zhang, he might as well have a dog caller and lead on him. This is a stonker of a debut. It’s supposed to be the first in a series. It better be. This was terrific.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sarmat Chowdhury

    An interesting read, and not what I expected the book to be based on the summary on the back and reviews from other readers. The characters, while fleshed our, at times seemed animatronic, the erotic scenes at best a fraction of the passion that was shown by characters, and the horror/mythology barley there. The prose however, was fantastic - Temple Drake has a unique writing style and I look forward to reading more works by them; but the lack of clarity of the narrative and the disjointed corre An interesting read, and not what I expected the book to be based on the summary on the back and reviews from other readers. The characters, while fleshed our, at times seemed animatronic, the erotic scenes at best a fraction of the passion that was shown by characters, and the horror/mythology barley there. The prose however, was fantastic - Temple Drake has a unique writing style and I look forward to reading more works by them; but the lack of clarity of the narrative and the disjointed correlation between the story telling and certain characters didn’t make sense and hurt the overall narrative of what should have been an interesting read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    I really liked the writing style, it was direct and exciting. No pointless asides! I also liked how not every single little thing was spelled out for the reader, that the author trusted us enough to leave some things unexplored and unsaid. It kept the book fast and tight and spare, perfect for a vampire ghost story. (view spoiler)[I'm docking 1 star for the epilogue, which was just a bunch of nonsense. It 100% reads as if the editor forced the author to add some more "insights" and the book is wo I really liked the writing style, it was direct and exciting. No pointless asides! I also liked how not every single little thing was spelled out for the reader, that the author trusted us enough to leave some things unexplored and unsaid. It kept the book fast and tight and spare, perfect for a vampire ghost story. (view spoiler)[I'm docking 1 star for the epilogue, which was just a bunch of nonsense. It 100% reads as if the editor forced the author to add some more "insights" and the book is worse for it. Going out on an ambiguous note would have been so fucking cool, I wish that they had had to the courage to be bold like that. (hide spoiler)]

  29. 5 out of 5

    Vincent Hernot

    A Rupert Thompson book, even when written under a pseudonym, can't be all bad. This one is a strange one, with a premise along sf lines, or thereabout, and a distended narrative in a subdued, evocative atmosphere. At times you'd like to know more about her life before, at times you'd like to know more about her life now, but that's the pleasure-seeker in secondary things in us: there's really no need for more details because the book is not about that. in the end though, you may ask yourself: ok, a A Rupert Thompson book, even when written under a pseudonym, can't be all bad. This one is a strange one, with a premise along sf lines, or thereabout, and a distended narrative in a subdued, evocative atmosphere. At times you'd like to know more about her life before, at times you'd like to know more about her life now, but that's the pleasure-seeker in secondary things in us: there's really no need for more details because the book is not about that. in the end though, you may ask yourself: ok, and then what? Will there be a sequel? is that it? Perhaps it is - perhaps it's all it should be.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Siân

    This was nice, clean prose, easy to read and follow. The two main characters are interesting and generally well-developed. It's a dual narrative and Naemi's perspective was much more absorbing (Zhang is not a very nice guy when you think about it) so I would have loved to hear about her experiences a bit more. Unfortunately, the ending felt a bit flat. There was so much scope for exploring the more Gothic elements or for an exciting revelation at the end, but the final chapter was anti-climactic This was nice, clean prose, easy to read and follow. The two main characters are interesting and generally well-developed. It's a dual narrative and Naemi's perspective was much more absorbing (Zhang is not a very nice guy when you think about it) so I would have loved to hear about her experiences a bit more. Unfortunately, the ending felt a bit flat. There was so much scope for exploring the more Gothic elements or for an exciting revelation at the end, but the final chapter was anti-climactic.

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