Buffy the Vampire Slayer – The Making of the Slayer. Book ReviewComments Off
Titan Books, h/b, £19.99
Reviewed by Rebekah Lunt
If you’re a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer I won’t need to sell this to you at all, and if you’re not a fan… why the hell(mouth) not?!?
This book is beautifully illustrated and was brought out to mark 15 years of the show and all its reincarnations. It is absolutely packed full of everything a true fan would need. Everything that you, as a lover of the show that has STILL never been bettered in the vampire literature canon, could possibly want to know, including an exhaustive bibliography of the canon and non-canon comic books.
Get out there and buy it! ‘Nuff said!
Judgement of Souls: The Kiss of Dawn by Margarita Felices. ebook reviewComments Off
Reviewed by Katy O’Dowd
What they say: Judgement of Souls is a Gothic horror in which a naïve pure-blood Vampire is tossed into the mortal world. Rachel meets Daniel, a nightclub owner and his group of friends and after Daniel’s best friend is murdered by Max, becomes embroiled in the search. Rachel tries to fight off her feelings for Daniel, even siding with her Vampire friend Arun to think again about Daniel’s involvement, but he’s her love and she’s going to protect him, no matter what.
What I say: This book is also being marketed as paranormal romance – but it would also do well in a young adult capacity. Even though there are a couple of sex scenes, they are over quickly (if you’ll excuse the pun) so Teens These Days would be fine.
The premise is neat, vampire meets mortal with rather interesting family history, vampire falls in love with mortal and mortal with vampire. Rival vampire factions fight to gain control over a relic – in this case a scroll and then a book – which will in turn give whoever has said relic control over more or less everyone.
Set mainly in Cardiff, and action rather than plot driven, the writing is sparse and goes at a steady whack. It has an intriguing opening, and readers who prefer their vampires in a modern-day setting and coming out fighting should enjoy this book.
I don’t say this lightly, nor do I wish to detract from the author’s hard work – the copy I was sent for review was riddled with mistakes, and in my opinion what Judgement of Souls: The Kiss of Dawn really needs is an edit to turn it from a good book into a great book. The grammatical errors are annoying for the reader, and take away from the enjoyment of the book. Other reviews that I have come across on the internet, on the whole, are good, so perhaps the Kindle release is an edited version. I really hope so, and if not they should be easy to fix.
Having said the above, all of the elements are there, and the last third of the book is superb and very engaging. It’s so very nearly there it’s tantalising. The fight scenes are well written, and Arun in particular is a stand-out character. A good debut, which I would have enjoyed more had it been error-free.
Editor’s note: The review copy was in fact an uncorrected proof. We have since been assured by the author that the final version was heavily edited.
Zombie deal with Telos for Sam StoneComments Off
Stephen James Walker, Editorial Director of Telos Publishing in London, has acquired world rights in a new zombie novella by Sam Stone. The novella, entitled Zombies at Tiffany’s, will be published in September 2012.
Sam is the award-winning author of four vampire novels collectively called The Vampire Gene published successfully by The House of Murky Depths. A fifth title in her series, Silent Sand, is due to be published in the autumn. She said, of this deal:
“It’s great to be back working with Telos again after the superb job they did with my horror collection Zombies in New York and Other Bloody Jottings last year. The new novella is riffing on the famous Audrey Hepburn/Blake Edwards film and the novella by Truman Capote, but it’s not the same as either. I enjoy playing with the genres, and this time we have a steampunk Victorian adventure. With zombies. In the famous Tiffany’s store in New York. It’s a lot of fun, and I even have a Jewish zombie wandering around who can only eat Kosher brains – that’s a nod to the character of Shagal the Inn Keeper, brilliantly played by Alfie Bass in the Polanski film The Fearless Vampire Killers.”
Sam Stone’s first novel, Killing Kiss, won the silver award for Best Horror Novel in ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year competition, and her subsequent novels and short stories have gained her much acclaim, including winning the British Fantasy Award.
Evolve Two: Vampire Stories of the Future Undead. Book ReviewComments Off
Edge, p/b, £9.36
Reviewed by Pauline Morgan
There have been anthologies of vampire stories before, there will undoubtedly be others. There are readers who will lap then up, whatever their content; others will shy away simply because vampires in recent years have become a mite too cuddly. They have lost their bite. The question is, then, why should the jaundiced reader bother with this volume. There are a number of reasons, but most important, these vampires all have the same agenda – survival. The way they do that best is by treating humans as prey. These creatures are as varied as their authors but are all very dangerous.
Flicking down the contents list, the British reader will recognise very few of the authors. This is a book produced in Canada and most of the authors are Canadian. If anything this is an advantage as there are no preconceptions when coming to their work. The editor, Nancy Kilpatrick, considers the future of the vampire race and has divided the volume into three sections – Pre-apocalypse, Post-apocalypse and New World Order.
In the first section, the eight stories have an alternative present – where vampires are known to exist – or a near future scenario. They start relatively gently and gradually get bloodier. The first in the section is “The List” by Kelley Armstrong. Zoë knows she is the only vampire living in Toronto but an anthropologist has claimed that there are 24. At the end of his lecture on vampire lore he is stalked by a Goth demanding to know why she isn’t on the list and Zoë has to intervene. This story is slight, fun and a lead in to the darker ones where the vampires always live up to their heritage. Some do have a kind of compassion. In “Six Underground” by Michael Lorenson, the vampire, Connor, gets himself onto the jury of a murder trial. His intention is to persuade the rest of the jury that the girl the defendants killed was not a vampire – as they are already dead, vampires cannot he murdered. “Toothless” by David Beynon takes us into the near future when the ozone layer is virtually extinct. The focus here shifts away from an individual vampire onto the cops who are trying to find who is killing the vampires and stealing their teeth.
In the eight stories in the second, Post-apocalypse, section, there has been some kind of apocalyptic disaster causing the collapse of civilisation. As a result, vampires are either in the ascendant or the conflict between them and the human race is one of survival for one or the other. Problems can arise when vampires have dwindling sources of prey. An example is “Chelsea Mourning” by David Tocher. When the vampires awake from their twenty year hibernation they find the world devastated by a huge meteor strike and few humans. They intend to capture one alive to lead them to more. They have the misfortune to pick on Chelsea, who is a telepath. “Survival of the Fittest” by Leanne Tremblay has a desperate vampire colony. Most surviving humans are poor specimens so when Charlie turns up claiming to live well outside the colony they believe they have found a new food source, especially as Charlie seems able to cope with the radiation coming through the ozone stripped atmosphere. Evolution, though has favoured the humans rather than the vampires. “Blood That Burns So Bright” is another turning point story in which a human girl is a cage fighter up against the best of the vampires. If she wins her fight, she will show that vampires can be beaten.
The final section of six stories takes vampires out into deep space. John Shirley’s “Soulglobe” has them hidden from sight. The Soulglobe to the human population is an exotic place to which the terminally ill can go to die. When Frank takes his wife there, he has second thoughts and uncovers what is really happening. These vampires are trying to survive by misusing human concerns about death. In Tanith Lee’s “Beyond The Sun” the vampires, because of their qualities, are sent out ahead of the humans to create a new world on which they can live. This is a beautiful science fiction story combining myth and technology tied together with the romance of the vampire life and the love of another being. Love also plays a part in “Beacons Among The Stars” by Anne Mok in which the more adventurous of a vampire pair heads out among the stars on the early colony ships. Later, his lover follows in a desperate bid to find him.
There are a huge range of stories here, each focusing on different aspects of vampire lore and stretching the boundaries. That is what makes this a good book to pursue and dip into.
The Sookie Stackhouse Companion. Book ReviewComments Off
Gollancz, hb, £.16.99
Reviewed by Selina Lock
This is exactly what it says on the cover; a guide to all things Sookie Stackhouse. It includes a new short story, summaries of all the novels, information on the short stories, a guide to the creatures of the Sookieverse in her own words, a trivia quiz section, Southern recipes as would be eaten in Bon Temps, interviews with Alan Ball and Charlaine Harris, thoughts from fans of the series and entries on characters, events and settings in the books.
This is one for the hardcore Sookie Stackhouse book series fans, who will love the details and insights related.
For those that follow the books, the main point of interest is going to be the new eighty page short story ‘Small-Town Wedding’. Harris gives us a wider glimpse into the Sookieverse by sending Sookie to Sam’s home town as his date for a family wedding. This is set after the shifters have revealed themselves to the world and shows us how the revelation has split a community apart. As usual, Sam and Sookie find themselves smack in the middle of a dangerous situation, fighting to keep their loved ones and innocent people safe. We get to see some returning characters and some ongoing plot threads are resolved, so a must read for fans.
I would have preferred some of the sections to be more clearly labelled in the table of contents, as a section called Life in Bon Temps did not say to me that it was the summaries of each of the novels. If you’re a follower of the True Blood TV series, rather than of the novels, then most of the Companion won’t mean much to you, given the way the two series have diverged.
One to buy if you’re pining for the next Sookie Stackhouse novel, or as a gift for a loved one who is.
The Third Section by Jasper Kent. Book ReviewComments Off
Bantam Books, trade p/b, £12.99
Reviewed by Pauline Morgan
Vampires are back in all their brutal nastiness in this series set in Imperial Russia. The year is 1955, the year after the infamous charge of the Light Brigade. The Russian army is besieged atSevastopolby the French and the British. One of their officers is Dmitry Danilov.
Readers familiar with Jasper Kent’s books so far will know that Dmitry’s father, Aleksei, first worked with a team in 1812 during Bonaparte’s retreat from Moscow, the members of which turned out to be vampires. Their story was told in Twelve. In Thirteen Years Later, Aleksei gets caught up in the Decembrist movement which is plotting to overthrow the Tsar. He is also aware of another plot against the Tsar: The oldest of the vampires, Zmyeevich, once made a pact with Peter the Great in which if the Tsar drank Zmyeevich’s blood, he would become a vampire and be a puppet ruler to the old vampire’s domination. Tsar Peter cheated him but the potential was still there in his descendents and vampires can be very patient.
In Sevastopol, Dmitry, with the knowledge his father gave him, comes to realise that one of his friends is a vampire. As the army returns toMoscow, so do the vampires.
As with any worthwhile series two things are built in. Each book has a conclusion which folds up the prominent issues while leaving a hook to draw the reader onto the next book. It also incorporates factors from previous volumes which shape the way the characters behave in a new situation. At the end of Thirteen Years Later, Aleksei was exiled toSiberia. His mistress followed him leaving behind their daughter, Tamara. Thirty years later much of the plot revolves around her. Tamara has been brought up by the family of one of Aleksei’s old friends to believe that they are her parents. Some childhood memory has convinced her that this is not true and she becomes obsessed in finding out who her real parents are. Also, through the actions of unscrupulous government officials, she is lured into becoming a member of the Third Section,Russia’s secret service. The head of the Third Section is a man that Dmitry has known from childhood and it is inevitable that when both he and Tamara are inMoscow, their paths will eventually cross.
JasperKentis very good with history, blending recorded fact with plausible fiction based on rumour such as the secret faked death of Tsar Aleksandr and adding in the mix of horror fantasy. In this turbulent period, when wars rakedEurope, it would be very easy for vampires to feed on the dying without detection. The creatures here do not totally conform to the traditional image: yes, direct sunlight will burn them but not diffused daylight, they do not reflect in mirrors (for whichKenthas an explanation), and they are warm to the touch and have heartbeats, which makes it easier to mingle with their prey. They are of the nasty variety, having no scruples about killing. To fall in love with one just postpones the moment when you become lunch and there is no nonsense about having to sleep in native soil or be scared off by crosses or garlic. Where he is perhaps less sure is when he is writing from Tamara’s view point. There is not enough richness to convince me of her femininity.
In general, though, this is a book that can be enjoyed at many levels.
Forever Richard by Sue Dent. Book reviewComments Off
Reviewed by Maryann Boo
This is the long awaited sequel to Never Ceese, Sue Dent’s first foray into the world of Richard, a vampire, and his werewolf sister, Ceese. In this book, Sue takes us back to the early days, where we meet other members of Richard’s and Ceese’s family.
We are subsequently brought back to present day and meet Richard and Ceese, now both cured and doing their best to adjust to “normal” life. However, normal life does not come easy as Richard feels the need to mentor the newly turned young vampire, Josh, which subsequently brings them back to England. Cassie, the character that aided Richard and Ceese, features heavily and we also meet Zade, the werewolf who cursed Ceese, who has returned to claim the lady/werewolf he believes to be rightfully his.
This book deals with the intricacies of lives intertwined by friendships, love, both old and new, family and the basic human need to keep together family we hold precious.
Sue has a gift of bringing her characters to life, drawing the reader in to experience every emotion and scenery. Sue also reveals the characters’ backgrounds as we are introduced to people and past experiences that have shaped the characters into who and what they presently are.
Another success from Sue Dent. Insightful and thought provoking… well worth the wait!
It has now been announced that this is the second part of a trilogy. I look forward to part three, provisionally entitled Cyn No More.
(ebook versions available http://blackbedsheet.goshopper.net/i/247311/forever-richard.htm)
Flirt, by Laurell K. HamiltonComments Off
Anita Blake is a lady with a lot of barnacles. She’s accumulated many powers in her previous seventeen books, and to a new reader their page-by-page introduction in this one seemed almost ludicrous. Vampire hunter, necromancer, werewolf (sort of) (and were-lots of other things), vampire, another vampire’s human servant (and girlfriend), and succubus, she keeps a pet were-leopard and werewolf, and she’s a US Marshal.
But imagine reading your first Superman comic: okay, this guy can fly. Oh, and he’s super-strong, invulnerable, and shoots lasers out of his eyes. Plus, he has super-hearing, and he’s a super-ventriloquist, and even a super-kisser! We’re so used to Superman that we hardly question it. What matters is how all the powers coalesce into a character. What’s interesting about Anita’s powers is that none are free: with each comes new dangers, new feelings, and new responsibilities. She’s in constant danger of being overwhelmed by them.
With great power also comes great difficulty in plotting: how to challenge the hero who has everything? In Flirt we see Superman’s worst nightmare: friends targeted by supervillains. Mr Bennington wants his wife back from the dead, and doesn’t care who dies to make it happen. With snipers stalking her lovers Anita lets herself be kidnapped by a pair of mercenary were-lions. A were-lion witch cuts her psychic connection with her chums, and things are looking grim. But the bad guys have reckoned without Anita’s greatest power of all: her ravenous sexual energy!
A few chapters in and this was well on the way to being one of the worst books I’d read in years. The second chapter is dreadful, the banter excruciating as Anita and her gaggle of boyfriends flirt with a waiter and each other in a restaurant. The tone felt familiar – jaunty, forced, creepy – and it took a while to place it: late period Heinlein. Discovering in the afterword that the scene was based on real events made it even worse. What these characters call “playing”, other people might well call sexual harassment.
But once Anita’s love cult is sidelined the book got much, much better. It develops into an interesting sexual thriller, Anita’s respectful kidnappers fighting their own desire to mate with her, and pack dynamics play out in human form as she plays them off against each other. Overall, this is a crisp, pointed novel that doesn’t outstay its welcome, and if I could forget that indulgent second chapter I’d be happy to read another in the series, preferably one in which Anita is once again separated from her gormless gang of group-huggers.
Flirt, by Laurell K. Hamilton, Headline, pb, 180pp.
Also published this week: the 19th Anita Blake novel, Bullet, in which Anita must face the Mother of All Darkness, who is after her body… Though not for the reason everyone else is.