The Hunter's Gambit, by Ciel Pierlot

26 Jun 2024

The Book

The Hunter's Gambit
Pages: 375
Age Group: Adult
Published on 25 Jun 2024
Publisher: Angry Robot Books
Dark Fantasy
Available on:


From the award nominated author of Bluebird comes a tale of seduction, sadism, and survival featuring malevolent vampires and a locked-room escape adventure… Perfect for fans of Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff.

Locked in a castle with a clan of devious vampires, one woman is caught in a literal fight for her life.Vampires have always fascinated Kazan Korvic, so much so that she’s made it her life’s work to craft weapons designed solely to kill them. But when she is attacked and captured by an entire clan, Kazan’s fascination turns ferocious.

In their Citadel, Kazan is forced to attend the Vampire Court where she must act as their Queen. She is told that she will be waited-and-doted upon, until the end of her reign in three days’ time. Then, an extravagant and lavish feast will be held… where the vampires will consume their newly crowned Queen.

Desperate and afraid, Kazan finds no allies in the castle except for a pair of distractingly alluring vampires who seem sympathetic to her plight. But as she devises her escape plan, she comes to realise that she is not the only one who is trapped, and no one is prepared for how far she’s willing to go to survive…  

My Review

The Hunter's Gambit is a standalone dark fantasy novel written by Ciel Pierlot, and published by Angry Robot Books. A highly atmospheric locked room escape adventure that explores how far our main character Kazan will have to go to survive among the hedonistic vampires of the citadel, and that gifts us excellent and brutal action scenes and a more classic focus into these creatures.

Kazan Korvic's past is marked by vampires; orphaned after a vampire raid, she became a blacksmith with a special attention on creating weapons that can kill them. However, all that skill won't be enough when she's attacked and captured by a group of vampires; without her new weapon, she's forced to assist to their Citadel and their feast, being revered as their Queen. Doted and revered, the Queen of vampires is killed at the end of the celebrations to renew the Citadel strength, the main course of the feast.
Alone on her own, Kazan plans to find her weapon and get out; no allies, but soon she will find that not everybody is dancing to the music, and desperate situations make strange friends. She's ready to do anything in order to survive, and establishing dubious relationships is just the tip of the iceberg.

With Kazan, Pierlot gives us a morally grey character, ready to lie and with more than enough reasons to hate vampires; being trapped in the Citadel is just the situation that pushes her towards her limit, and even further. She's been hardened by life, and it's a prime example of somebody that has nothing to lose.
In comparison, I would say that ironically Adrius and Reya are more human in that sense that Kazan. Their target is to change vampire's hierarch; their unlikely bond with Kazan ends gifting us some steamy scenes that fitted perfectly with the whole setting. Ambitious, but also caring for others.

I absolutely loved the setting, and the "return" to a more classical vampire archetype, bloodthirsty but also hedonistic; pleasure and enjoyment are a substantial part of what makes the feast at the Citadel special. Humans are no more than disposable animals for them, a fun thing to hunt; and the Queen is just the piece needed to keep the Citadel for another year.

With Kazan's situation, Pierlot takes the opportunity to write an action-packed story, full of violent scenes, a great example of the motto "you are trapped with me". Not only that, but we see how to survive, Kazan will renounce to what makes her human; the time running out perspective only reinforces the desperation she's suffering. The pacing is absolutely amazing, with a great prose that fits perfectly with our story.

I absolutely loved The Hunter's Gambit, as it was all I was expecting from this kind of book; a dark fantasy that returns to classical vampires with a main character that is far from being a heroine, with blood and some steam. Fans of EotV, you want to pick this excellent novel by Ciel Pierlot.

The Author/s

Ciel Pierlot

Ciel Pierlot

  Ciel Pierlot is a disaster bisexual from the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s also a giant nerd and no, you cannot stop her from bragging about her lightsaber collection. When she’s not writing SFF novels, she’s busy being a digital artist and a hardcore gay-mer. Bluebird is her debut novel.