January 17, 2020

Christopher Pike: "Thirst No.5: The Sacred Veil"

Title: Thirst No.5: The Sacred Veil  [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Thirst (previously: The Last Vampire) (5th of ?? books)
Author: Christopher Pike [Facebook | Goodreads]
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Year: 2013
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: 4.5/5
Pros: Original take on vampires. Plenty of kickass action. Blends urban fantasy with thriller, history, and more than anything, Eastern spirituality. This particular installment is heavily steeped in history (WWII/the Holocaust).
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 final cliffhanger might not sit well with some. 
WARNING! Gore, violence, torture...and a detailed tour into Auschwitz.
Will appeal to: Those looking for a fresh approach to vampires, in what was probably the very first YA/NA series about them.

Blurb: In her five thousand years as a vampire, Alisa - or Sita, as she was originally called - has experienced the equivalent of fifty lifetimes. Every moment of her immortal life is seared deep into her being. Every person she has loved, every victim she has killed - their faces are forever part of her. Yet, strangely, a handful of memories have been lost to Alisa. As she and her friends embark on a search for the location of a sacred artifact - an ancient veil that may hold the key to mankind's salvation - Alisa soon realizes that her own mind may be her greatest enemy. The memories she is blocking deal with the most horrifying period in mankind's history, a time when she was tortured by a madman responsible for the deaths of millions. But what information did her torture yield? (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, though at least this one does mention it...😒]

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, and this one of course, but it came close). 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...


Like Thirst No.4 before, Thirst No.5 takes off exactly where the previous installment in the series stopped - and yes, that one ended with a cliffhanger (or, as I prefer to see it, an extremely open ending). So, this one starts with a bang - Sita destroying the devil's pawn who had been shadowing the group all along, but of course, being left to deal with the larger, evil picture, in the form of an organisation that's threatening the whole world (and in the immediate, the group itself). Unlike its predecessor, though, Thirst No.5 isn't a fast-paced supernatural thriller (despite it starting as such), as much as the combo of a rescue mission and a (still supernatural) alternate history adventure set in the past (Sita's past of course). The gang is going after the mythical Veil of Veronica (and yes, Pike is taking some liberties with the original story) and the woman who was guarding it, a descendant of another woman Sita was friends with during WWII. The veil seems to be crucial to mankind's salvation, but Sita's regaining her memories about the part she played during the Holocaust is crucial as well, because it ties in with the present situation, though the group doesn't know how. If this sounds complicated, it's because it is - this is, hands down, the most complex installment in the Thirst saga so far, but one of the most exciting as well. History was never a favourite subject with me, but what Pike did here had me captivated and even wanting for more. Let's just say that it's not an everyday occurrence to see the oldest vampire on Earth helping the resistance during WWII, meeting historical figures like Patton and Himmler, and witnessing the Holocaust while being held captive at Auschwitz herself. Despite Sita being a 5,000 years old vampire, whose adventures in the past we have already read about on various occasions, this is the first book where she's actually playing a part in a huge historical event, and actually getting the chance to change the future. And despite Sita thinking of herself as a monster, this is probably the book where - what with having to face the worst men-induced tragedy in history - her compassion shines the most. [...]


Christopher Pike hardly writes a book without mixing the supernatural with sci-fi elements, and more often than not (all the time in this series) he weaves both with eastern spirituality (and splashes of Christianity), but he NEVER gets preachy. This may sound like a lot, but don't let it discourage you from trying this series. The mix not only works, but will give you a reading experience unlike any other. Not to mention, this particular book taps into the myth of the vimanas (flying palaces described in some of the Hindu texts) and turns them into spaceships. How cool is that? Pike is an expert when it comes to eastern religions, and he takes them seriously, but is also fascinated enough from them (mainly Hinduism) that he expands on the tradition and - respectfully - uses it to create his own universe. And I can't stress it enough - albeit this particular installment in the series is more complex than all the rest, the would-be science and the supernatural world-building are surprisingly accessible. The most engaging part is to keep track of all the things that happen and figure out how they tie in together, but the book would be half the fun it is (if a book with the Holocaust in it can be described as "fun") without that challenge.


The things that prevented me to give this installment 5 whole stars are mainly character-related. If you have read my previous Thirst reviews, it's no mystery that I'm not a fan of Matt, the vampire hybrid who lately posed as Sita's love interest, and who basically took over too may times for my liking in the latest 3 books (or better, in Book 3, and again now in Book 5). Not only he sidelined Sita in her own story a few times, but he also got awfully close to acting abusive towards her a couple of times. Of course, he's got a history, and holds a grudge to Sita for the death of someone he loved (though she wasn't more to blame than him), but I don't like that, after him coming an inch from punching Sita (which, what with Matt being so powerful, could result in her death), the two of them profess their love for each other and jump into the nearest bed. Then there's the issue of another character from the previous books who's basically giving Sita the cold shoulder since Thirst No.3, and even if they have their reasons, they did a whole 180 after being introduced in the second installment, and didn't even sound like themselves anymore. Also, I'll have to admit I never noticed this, and I apparently needed a one-star review of this book on GR to realise it, but...one of the side characters from Thirst No.4 (who was travelling with the gang toward the end) suddenly stopped being mentioned in the last pages of the same book, and this new installment starts with no mention of him again or no explanation of his absence whatsoever! He literally vanished under our very nose (and that of all the beta-readers and editors who perused this book...)!!!
Lastly, there's the problem about the ending - I don't mind a cliffhanger, but this one is basically a rehash of an old one, though it introduces a brand new factor into the equation. Plus, who knows when Pike will be able to write a new book in the series - Simon & Schuster fired him, and he's been talking about self-publishing the next Thirst book(s) for a while, but it's been more than 6 years now. Anyhow...he will get round to it, I'm sure. He loves this series too much. So maybe show him that vampires are still relevant by buying the books already available, and he'll publish Thirst No.6 sooner than you may expect 😉.

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...

P.S.: I did a buddy reread of this series with my friend and Pike fan Carrie. She usually can articulate her thoughts far better than me, so here's her review. Plus 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.4" review (fourth installment in the series) click here.
For more books by Christopher Pike click here.


  1. Somehow I seem to have missed these, for whatever reason, even though this author does sound so dang familiar. I love the idea of vampires being mixed up in WWII though- I mean, it makes sense- if there are vampires, wouldn't they at least possibly get involved in historical events?) so that definitely appeals to me. Plus the Holocaust angle... I can see that being powerful.

    The spirituality and religious elements actually sound really interesting too, and I like it when a vampire story (or urban fantasy stuff on general) addresses stuff like that. I may just need to add this series to my list.

    1. I hope you will! I haven't known you for long, but I can indeed see this series appealing to you.

  2. I have not seen a lot of books that leverage Hindu mythology, and I like to hear when an author can combine so many elements successfully

    1. I know this is not a series you would enjoy, what with being way darker than your usual books, but I'm glad you were willing to read my review just the same! 😘

  3. Really great it never gets preachy and it's cool it leans so much on Hinduism- it sounds pretty unique and I've read one of Pike's short story collections before (and it left an impression!) so I'm definitely curious. Awesome review!

    1. Thank you! And Pike is a better novel writer than a short-story one, so if you decide to tackle one of his novels, you will probably like it even better!


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