Crusade by Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguie – Review

Book Jacket:

For the past two years, Jenn has lived and trained at Spain’s Sacred Heart Academy Against the Cursed Ones. She is among the few who have pledged to defend humanity or die trying. But the vampires are gaining power, and the battle has only just begun.

Forced to return home after death takes a member of her family, Jenn discovers that San Francisco is now a vampire stronghold. As a lone hunter apart from her team, Jenn is isolated—and at risk. She craves the company of her fighting partner, Antonio: his protection, his reassurance, his touch. But a relationship with Antonio comes with its own dangers, and the more they share of themselves, the more Jenn stands to lose.

Then Jenn is betrayed by one who was once bound to protect her, causing her to doubt all she has held as true. To survive, Jenn must find the courage to trust herself—and her heart.

You can read an excerpt here.


I admit I picked up this ARC with a sigh, expecting either some tired Knights Templar story or a Twilight knock-off. I was delighted to find I was totally wrong.

I think marketing has done this book a disservice by trying to make it sound more Twilight-like than it actually is. Watch this trailer and you’ll see what I mean:

What this book actually is, is a delectable dystopia, with horror movie style vampires taking over the world. The story centers on a team of Hunters, a crucial part of the underground movement trying to fight back. Think resistance fighters in France during World War II – outnumbered, outgunned, and getting desperate. The good guys are definitely not winning this war.

When the team is fighting the vampires, or Cursed Ones, as they call them, this book is at its best. Five strong personalities with completely different backgrounds, the team is a fractious unit always on the verge of falling apart. I loved every minute they were butting heads.

Jenn’s struggle to believe in her own abilities, her family conflicts, and her desperate situation when she finds herself betrayed and alone, all were fantastic. I was completely hooked. And then… the book spectacularly stalls out in the third act. Jenn, the narrative force, the main character, suddenly falls apart and does nothing but cry for about 150 pages. I kid you not. I was ready to slap her. Yes, it’s a horrible and terrifying situation, but come on – you survived training that kills most people! Do SOMETHING!

The third act just sputtered and fell apart. The rescue mission that was supposed to be the crux of the matter barely happens and is kind of anticlimactic when it does. There were too many flashbacks that didn’t serve any story purpose and just slowed things down. All sorts of bits and pieces that were teased about various team members’ secrets coming back to haunt them and threaten the team just sort of peetered out to nothing. The big villainess who was the prime mover behind the evil plot just runs away. If something was supposed to change, if this was supposed to be a big evolutionary moment for characters or for the team or for the war – it didn’t work.

And then, the team goes home and everyone suddenly turns to Jenn and says, it’s time you owned up to your awesomeness and become the leader of this team we so desperately need. Really? I was on board with Jenn’s awesomeness for the first two acts, but the third act completely failed to show me Jenn’s evolution or why suddenly she can accept her abilities or why she’d be this great leader. If there was supposed to be a character arc that built to that moment of self realization for Jenn, it got washed away by all the weeping.

So the end came, and things definitely got worse for the home team, but there was no real sense of ending to this story. I’m completely in love with the world and the characters – yes, even Jenn, despite the soggy mess she was for act three – and I am blown away by the potential of this series. It just needs to live up to it. Even with my frustration with this book, I am definitely looking forward to the next one.

So if you like Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series, pick this one up.

Byrt Grade: B

As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

Mundie Moms says:

At times I felt like I was reading a great historical fiction, and other times I felt I was reading an action packed book. Crusade‘s writing and characters were engaging, as I wanted to learn more about them. While I wasn’t expecting Crusade to end the way it did, I’m really looking forward to reading the next book in the series. Action packed, dark, twisty, and engaging, I highly recommend picking up Crusade.

The Book Butterfly says:

With non-stop action, Crusade is sure to make your heart race while you battle alongside the hunters as they take on some truly frightening vampires. I look forward to the next installment in this thrilling series and highly recommend Crusade to both adult and teen readers who enjoy scary, action-packed vampire books.

Debbie’s World of Books says:

This book sounded awesome when I read the book blurb and I was so excited when I was able to review it.  When all is said and done I am feeling ambivalent about this book.  It feels like it has the potential to be a great series but I just wasn’t loving it.