August 20, 2019

Christopher Pike: "Thirst No.4: The Shadow of Death"

Title: Thirst No.4: The Shadow of Death [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Thirst (previously: The Last Vampire) (4th of ?? books)
Author: Christopher Pike [Facebook | Goodreads]
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Year: 2011
Age: 14+ (please note: for years it's been considered YA lit, but the human age of the protagonist would place it in the NA category nowadays, and the series gets more mature - and darker - by the book)
Stars: 5/5
Pros: Original take on vampires. Plenty of kickass action and entertaining (if often bloody) moments. Blends urban fantasy with thriller, history (though just slightly in this specific installment), and more than anything, Eastern spirituality. This particular installment is top-notch horror, with a strong supernatural bone.
Cons: If you're not into a mix of supernatural/spiritual/sci-fi, this one might not work for you (though it's done well). The open ending might not sit well with some.
WARNING! Child death (they're evil and dangerous children though). Gore, violence and really creepy villains.
Will appeal to: Those looking for a fresh approach to vampires, in what was probably the very first YA/NA series about them.

Blurb: Alisa is a five-thousand-year-old vampire, stronger and more cunning than her adversaries. But now she's trapped in the body of a newborn vampire and at the mercy of a terrible thirst. Worst of all, she's facing enemies whose fierce desire for domination grows ever stronger. The immortal race the Telar is threatening to release a virus to decimate humanity. But Alisa and her friends can't take down the Telar on their own, and they must turn to the mysterious organization the IIC for help. But the IIC has secrets of its own and may have ulterior motives. With two rivals and no one to trust, Alisa must rely on her dark side to defeat them. But it could cost her life, or her soul...(Goodreads)
[Please note: "Alisa" is the main character's alias when she's undercover for some reason...or when it suits her, but her real name is Sita. I SO wish these blurbs called her by her birth name 😒]

Review: This series is not perfect. And I won't shun its faults in this review. But for some reason, I can't bear myself to rate it less than 5 stars (except for Thirst No.3). It's not author bias - there are a bunch of Pike books I rated 3 stars and even less. But if TLV/Thirst stills works its magic on me almost 20 years after I first read Book 1, and if I'm still peeling its layers after all this time, that should count for something...


Thirst No.4 takes off exactly where the previous installment in the series stopped - and yes, that one ended with a cliffhanger. In Pike's defense though, he rarely (if ever) does that - but you can't have a single book that's almost 980 pages long 😲 😂. (Or maybe Stephen King could get away with it, but I'm not sure. Or maybe he actually has already?). Anyhow, while I had a few pet-peeves against Thirst No.3, this one is my favourite installment in the series so far, if by a notch (I rated every one of them 5 stars except for No.3, and I couldn't have borne to give them a lower rating, but I would have rated this one half a star higher if possible. Yes, I'm complicated 😅). The whole series is spiritual/philosophical and full of (bloody) action at the same time, plus a successful blend of supernatural and sci-fi (not an easy feat)...but Thirst No.4 has the highest stakes, the creepiest villains (whether human or not), the steepest ethical dilemmas, the most unexpected twists, the scariest (and most creative) horror scenes - plus a whole afterlife section that probably would have made me biased toward it regardless 😂. (Except I don't really think I'm biased - again, see my review for No.3). If the blurb makes it sound like half the conspiracy books out there (only with vampires - well, one of them, to be precise), it's just because you can't fit a quarter of of what happens here into a blurb...especially if you don't want to spoil things. [...]


One of the things I love more in this installment is that, after Matt basically took over for half the previous book, Sita is back in charge - though Thirst No.4 starts with her "trapped in the body of a newborn vampire and at the mercy of a terrible thirst" (thank you, blurb. So much for spoilers 😠). There's a brief...well, almost brief...rehash of challenges she had to face a long time ago, and she makes a lot of mistakes, but at least she's not taking the easy way out and turning to Matt for help. True, in whatever body Sita is now, her relationship with Matt is complicated, to say the least. He's still stronger than her - in any capacity - and she's afraid he will take it out on her for the hurt she put him through with her choices. Even between two supernatural beings who, by default, can't handle their emotions the way humans do - and sometimes simply won't - that's not pretty (cue: bracing yourself for possible the form of annihilation). Thank goodness, it doesn't last long though, and Matt actually seems to learn a few lessons this time, plus he's contented to be an ally while Sita - as I said - is in charge. A more interesting (and definitely healthier) relationship than the Sita-Matt one is Sita's friendship with Seymour, her human psychic twin. Seymour is always the voice of conscience and reason (or he tries to), and for a 5,000-year-old vampire, Sita treats him as an equal, though she doesn't always listen to him 😂. Also, it's notable how there's so much love between them (and I don't mean the obvious - Seymour being attracted to her), and Sita respects him a lot. He's maybe the strongest link to humanity she has at this point, though she matured a lot during the series. (Of course, if you trap her into the body of a newborn vampire, guilt won't prevent her from feeding though...and doing some nasty things). Speaking of which - Sita has to make some hard choices in this book, choices that probably only a non-human would be able to go through with - but she always has the greater good as a guide. That doesn't make them less brutal, but at least she's trying to do the right thing somehow.


Thirst No.4 has got more female side characters than the usual, both good and bad. If Sita's friend Paula gets little screen time (and more as the mother of the divine avatar than as an independent character), there are other women, from unspeakably old creatures to enhanced humans, from adults to little girls, who get the plot going. I can't say more because I would straight-up enter spoiler territory, but among them there are a nuanced, interesting ally, and a slightly less nuanced, but equally interesting villain (whom we already met in the previous installment, but we get to know better now). And, as in the most juicy plots, sometimes the enemy of your enemy is your (temporary) friend, while you should watch out for the ones you trust. Either way, a strong, varied female cast that you won't forget easily.

Note: I didn't shelf this series as Afterlife because Sita didn't actually "die-die" before she came back as a vampire. There are different takes on the vampire mythology, though technically they should all be undead...

Random note: all the headings in this review are song titles. Ain't I clever 😜 😂.

P.S.: I'm doing a buddy reread of this series with my friend and Pike fan Carrie. She usually can articulate her thoughts far better than me, so I'll link to her review for this book as soon as it's up. In the meantime, here's a link to her Goodreads page if you're not on Tumblr.

For my "Thirst No.1" review (first installment in the series) click here.
For my "Thirst No.2" review (second installment in the series) click here.
For my "Thirst No.3" review (third installment in the series) click here.
For my "Thirst No.5" review (fifth installment in the series) click here.
For more books by Christopher Pike click here.


  1. Every time you review this series, I remember I want to try it. It was big when I started blogging nine years ago. It sounds good, plus I like that is an interesting new twist on vamps. I got really burned out on vamps back in the day as well.

    1. Quote: "I got really burned out on vamps back in the day as well."
      I can imagine LOL - some time ago, vamps were EVERYWHERE. Then came dystopia, and now it's all about maybe vampire books are refreshing at this point! Especially since this series started back when they weren't even a thing (except for Dracula of course).

  2. This book was written during the heart of the vampire craze. It's good to see it held up for you. I was not big into creature type paranormal stories, though, I like ones with witches and magic.

    1. Quote: "This book was written during the heart of the vampire craze. It's good to see it held up for you."
      Yep, it was, but back when the original series started, vampires weren't even a thing. For all purposes, Pike invented the modern vampire novel, and a very much meatier/more meaningful version at that!

      Usually, vamps are not my thing either. This series is one of the rare exceptions. As for magic, for some reason, I tend to like it more when it's on a TV show (I loved the original Charmed).

  3. This sounds pretty awesome and I've never heard of it! I like the sound of the philosophical/ spirituality elements mixed in with the action- and the interesting take on vamps is pretty appealing too.

    1. Pike was huge in the '80s/'90s, then the market changed and his books started to get less recognition...which is a pity, because he literally fathered some of the YA trends that would become popular later, like vampire and afterlife novels. Only, his were more creative than most of the latter ones LOL.


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