A stand-alone book about vampire Rick in the Kitty Norville books.

Publication year: 2020, comes out March 13th
Format: eARC
Page count at GoodReads: 192
Publisher: Tachyon Publishing

This short book reveals the backstory of Rick or Ricardo de Avila. I’ve only read the first three books in the series, so I haven’t encountered him before. Still, the book works.

Ricardo is over 500 years old but he’s always wanted to be on his own so he doesn’t know much about vampires and especially about vampire politics. In fact, he lived over a hundred years before he even heard the word “vampire.” He thought he was a soulless demon which was a huge blow to him because he’s a Catholic.

Three short stories are incorporated into the book: “Conquistador de la Noche”, “El Hidalgo de la Noche”, and “Dead Men in Central City”. In the framing story, Rick arrives to the Vatican to meet the Abbot of the Order of Saint Lazarus of the Shadows. Rick is very curious to find out more about these supposed vampire monks but the Abbot insists on hearing Rick’s story instead of telling about the order’s history.

Rick is the son of a lesser Spanish nobleman and he came to New Spain with Coronado. In the ten years he spent following his commander, his dreams of gold and glory died. When a friend he hasn’t seen in years betrays him, he loses his life but becomes a vampire. He’s still fiercely independent and when his new “Master” tries to control Rick, Rick refuses.

Rick lives on his farm for a couple of generations but when more vampires arrive from Spain, they’re very interested in him. He still isn’t interested in serving anyone else. He must defend his life, and friends, from the newcomers.

In 1868, Rick arrives just before dawn to Central City after his horse has broken her leg. With his supernatural powers, he manages to secure a safe place to sleep the day, but attracts the attention of Doc Holliday. Rick stays in the saloon as a bouncer for a week and talks with the Doc. Then an eager young gunfighter challenges the Doc.

“El Conquistador del Tiempe” is original to this book and in it Rick tells what happened 1848 in Santa Fe. He was there with a dying friend when he was warned that someone terrible is coming.

These short stories, without an overarching plot, really feel like moments in Rick’s life. Even though he’s a vampire, he respects life and doesn’t want to kill anyone. But when required, he defends himself and his friends. He’s very different from other famous vampires, because he has compassion for the people around him and wants to have friends, rather than servants.

This was a very good introduction to the character and I loved all the historical refrences. My only complaint is that there’s still quite a large gab between 1868 and modern days. Perhaps more stories? I’m sure Kitty fans will also like this book a lot.