Posts Tagged ‘vampires’
Update, this giveaway is now closed, and the winner is:
Congrats aliasgirl! watch your e-mail for subject line Vampire Empire Giveaway Winner,and enjoy!
Thanks to the friendly folks over at Pyr, I’ve got an extra copy of Vampire Empire, book 3: the Kingmakers!
this beautiful book needs a new home, and with as much attention as this series has been getting recently, I’ll bet there are plenty of folks interested. Not sure if this is for you? check out some stellar reviews of the first book The Greyfriar, and the second book The Riftwalker, and the brand spankin’ new third book, The Kingmakers!
1. Enter by replying to this post. If you are not prompted by the WordPress commenting interface to enter your e-mail address, mention in your comment how I can reach you - twitter, e-mail, blog, whatever you are comfortable with.
2. this is an international give away. You must have a mailing address on planet Earth.
3. Give away will end at midnight, Eastern Standard Time on Friday, Sept 21. I will contact the randomly chosen winner via e-mail (or whatever other method they have provided me with)
published in 1992, reprinted by Titan Books in 2011
where I got it: purchased new
(and don’t you just adore that cover art?)
If you’ve never read Bram Stoker’s Dracula, I’m going to spoil the ending for you – the good guys win. Dracula and his brides are destroyed by the silvered weapons and quick thinking of Van Helsing and his friends. (If you’ve never read Dracula, you really should. I don’t do so well with the classics, and even I found it highly engaging.)
But what if that wasn’t how the story ended? What if Dracula won? What he traveled to England to be “among the teeming masses”, married Queen Victoria, and set London up as a safe haven for vampires? What if being reborn as the undead became acceptable, even fashionable? This is the premise of Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula, and a brilliant premise it is. The story has many of the trappings of Victorian literature, but with a number of deliciously dark twists. This was a book I absolutely couldn’t put down, Newman had me on page two. The premise was fascinating, the plot was engaging, and I adored the characters.
Under Dracula, who now styles himself the Prince Consort and Lord Protector, more and more businesses and society in London run from dusk to dawn, with socialites hosting “after-darks”, banks and merchants only being open at night, and a massive upswing in the sales of luxury coffins. For many, receiving the dark kiss allowed them to rise even higher in society, but for others, the opposite has been true. Those of the lower classes still starve and prostitute themselves, drunks still beg for money (but to buy pig blood, not booze).
She Nailed A Stake through His Head: Tales of Biblical Terror, edited by Tim Lieder
published in 2010
where I got it: Interlibrary loan
It being Passover/Easter week, what could be more appropriate reading than something biblical? I recently came across Tim Lieder’s blog, and he struck me as a swearing scholar (my favorite kind. of both). There was mention of an anthology that included old testament allegories and demons, and as I was already in a Haggadah frame of mind, so off to the library I went.
with a title like She Nailed a Stake Through his Head: Tales of Biblical Terror, it’s easy to think this is a one dimensional collection, that’s nothing but bible story retellings. You’d be wrong. While there were bible story retellings (which I admit, were my favorites) that don’t quite parallel what I’ve taught at Sunday school, but there were also vampires and Cthulhu monsters, and a Gilgamesh prequel and a parallel future where King David is a druggie rock star, and a few more vampires, and people, this is horrifically wonderful bizarro non-traditional stuff.
Mostly very short stories, this anthology was nice and easy to swallow, the whole thing is barely 150 pages long. I read the entire thing in two sittings. And you don’t need a biblical education of any kind to enjoy these. There are no inside jokes for you to figure out, no parables to puzzle over. Just deliciously creepy and sometimes heavily sexualized fiction. That word “Terror” in the title? yeah, there for a reason. And if you have any kind of Judeo-Christian education, you’ll be even more creeped out, which for me, made it all the better.
Here are some of my thoughts on a few of the entries:
Whither thou Goest, by Gerri Leen – With the death of their husbands, Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth head back to Naomi’s homeland. In this version, it isn’t that Ruth doesn’t want to follow, it’s that she’s bound to follow. Not bound by anything Naomi has done, but bound, beautifully and powerfully, by her own words “Wherever you will go, I will go”. This Ruth survivies and lives off Naomi’s lifeforce. Naomi is trapped forever, for Ruth will never let her escape. And when they reach Naomi’s hometown, Ruth sets her sights on a new patron, someone new from whom she can steal lifeforce and energy.
Swallowed! by Stephen M. Wilson – told in reverse order, at first it’s easy to be disgusted by the man’s actions. He follows the voice in his head and does the horrible things it commands. He kills a few people, violently, needlessly, and viciously. But then we get an inkling of who he might be. that he was on a ship, fleeing something, and was thrown overboard by Cthulhu worshipping sailors, and was swallowed into warm darkness, where he didn’t die. The absolute creepiest retelling of the Jonah story I have ever had the pleasure of reading, this Jonah is deformed and mangled, possessed by something hungrier and more murderous than even himself.
Babylon’s Burning, by Daniel Kayson – taking place right here, right now, nerdy Daniel gets dragged to a corporate company party by his brother. Daniel is disgusted by the kind of money this company throws around, their parties populated by high end call girls, their filthy government contracts that land them headlines about civilian deaths. And then he arrives at the party, and oh, the girls, the beautiful girls! A translator by training, Daniel witnesses something at the party that changes his life forever. He knows what those words mean, and he knows they will eventually point right at him. When you are the prophet, the translator, the high priest, there is no escape.
Psalm of the Second Body, by Catherynne Valente – Ya’ll know I love me some Valente. Although this anthology was published in 2010, this short story was originally published in 2005, it was Valente’s first. An almost prequel to the epic of Gilgamesh, it had me running to Wikipedia for a refresher course. I haven’t read Gilgamesh since high school. This is the story of Shamhat, the harlot who was instructed to seduce Enkidu, and took seven days to complete her mission. The story is from Shamhat’s point of view, and she is very good at what she does. I get the impression she’s offended to forever be known as the harlot, the prostitute, that the pains she took to help Enkidu become just slightly more human would never be acknowledged as important. I do love me some Valente, so it kills me that this story did nothing for me. The whole thing felt overwrought and overly ornamented just for the purpose of being overdone. Is she perhaps telling me that a harlot covered in the gaudiest golden jewelry will still always be seen by history as nothing but a woman who spreads her legs for money? The only story in the collection that I read twice, and the only one that didn’t do it for me.
The rules for my “best of” post were simple: I had to have read and reviewed the book in 2011, and it couldn’t be a reread (otherwise this list would taken over by Lynch, Powers, Brust, and others).
In no particular order (saving me the impossible task of choosing my utmost favorites), here are my top reads of the last 12 months. I’m surprised so many of them are new-ish books, as that wasn’t really part of the plan. Enjoy the little teaser then click on the title for the full review.
Grey by Jon Armstrong (2007) frantic, insane, completely over the top, hilarious, refreshing, and at times completely sick. This is dystopia like you’ve never read before. This is body modification and mortification, life imitating art to the nth degree, and performance art like you’ve never imagined. This is fashion punk.
The Third Section by Jasper Kent (2011) The third in Kent’s Danilov Quintet, one of the most brilliantly frightening books I have ever read, and brimming with betrayals and violence, seductions and patience, this is the series you’ve been waiting for if you prefer your vampire fiction to be more Bram Stoker than sparkly.
The Third Section, by Jasper Kent
Published in Oct 2011
where I got it: received a review copy from the friendly folks at Pyr
Taking place 30 years after the events of Thirteen Years Later, The Third Section (the third book in Jasper Kent’s Danilov Quintet) follows the children of Aleksei Danilov. His son Dmitri is in Sevastapol, fighting off the French and the English. When Dmitri discovers two dead soldiers, whose wounds match those witnessed thirty years earlier, he knows the creatures he helped his father hunt have returned.
Meanwhile, Aleksei’s illegitimate daughter, Tamara, has secured a post with the Tsar’s secret police, The Third Section. With a cover as a madam running a brothel, her official mission is informing on loose lipped politicians. Her supervisor attempts to unnerve her by showing her his torture chambers, but she barely reacts. Tamara has nothing left to lose, what could he possibly show her that would frighten her? When one of the working girls is found dead, covered in blood and missing her throat, Tamara begins an investigation that can’t end well.
And then we have Yudin, one of the most thrilling villains I have ever met. In Twelve, Yudin, or Iuda, as he was known then, identified Aleksei as a worthy opponent. Now that the game has started, Yudin won’t back away until there is a winner. And when one is immortal, the game never has to end. He is vicious, scientifically curious, and sadistic, and the pleasure of finally getting his point of view was a pleasurable horror unto itself. I have no sympathy for Yudin, but his talent for deception and the long game makes him beyond fascinating to watch.
Published in 1982
where I got it: borrowed from a friend
why I read it: been on a GRRMartin kick lately
I’ve been on a George R R Martin kick lately, along with most of the epic fantasy blogosphere. While everyone else is reading a nearly infamous fifth book, I’ve been hitting the backlist. When a friend offered to lend me his autographed copy of Fevre Dream along with the recently released graphic novel (which I haven’t read yet), I jumped at the chance. George R R Martin writing vampire horror on an antebellum Mississippi River? Sign me up!
beware – spoilers ahead.
Fevre Dream opens with a very depressed steamboat owner. Abner Marsh has had nothing but bad luck. Steamboats crushed in ice, or destroyed by the river. Few want to work with him, some believe he’s cursed. One day he’s approached by a wealthy gentleman named Joshua York who makes Marsh an offer he can’t refuse. Their partnership agreed upon, York supplies massive sums of money, and Marsh hires the best riverboat builders, engineers, and pilots money can buy. Soon, the Fevre Dream is born. She’s over 300 feet long, trimmed in silver, and nearly covered in mirrors. Once you’ve laid eyes on the Fevre Dream, you can never forget her.
It’s not long before Marsh and his crew suspect something strange is going on. York is never seen in the day time, and seems to only drink a homebrew wine. Betraying York’s trust to never enter his room or ask detailed questions, Marsh breaks into his room in an attempt to discover his secret.
Thirteen Years Later, by Jasper Kent
published: Feb 2011, PYR
Where I got it: received review copy from the friendly folks at PYR
why I read it: Loved the first book, Twelve, reviewed here.
Apologies in advance for a crappily written review that doesn’t do the book justice. I’ve had some version of the flu since saturday, and my brain isn’t functioning at all. and that’s before the cold meds. the super short version: Thirteen Years Later has a slower pace than Twelve, but has better twists and turns. We get multiple points of view, which is nice. If you thought the “bad guys” from the first book were nasty, just wait till you meet Doctor Cain.
Here’s the longer version:
Aleksei tries to forget the past, but it’s impossible. He still remembers conversations he had with his dead friends, and every time he looks at his son Dmitri he can’t help but think of the boy’s namesake. Aleksei splits his time between his family in Petersburg, his mistress and illegitimate daughter in Moscow, and wherever his job takes him. Reporting directly to Tsar Alexandre, Aleksei has spent the last few years infiltrating revolutionary groups, in hopes of squashing rebellions before they even start, saving lives, and saving Russia. Many of these rebels are soldiers the same age group as Aleksei, who had chased the French all the way back to Paris thirteen years ago. They came home, wanting for Russia the freedoms and republic they saw in Paris.
Things are going fairly swimmingly, until Aleksei receives a message from a man he knows to be dead. Partly out of fear, and partly out of curiosity, he goes to the meeting, to meet a man who claims to be Maksim’s younger brother Kyesha. Maksim did have a brother, a brother who died in childhood. Who is this man, and what does he want from Aleksei? He certainly isn’t Maksim’s brother, but Aleksei does know him from somewhere. If only he could remember where. . . . Over many short meetings, with questions and answers given over a children’s gambling game, Aleksei earns a book bound in the skin of a voordalak, and discovers the secrets behind Kyesha’s horrific past. Read the rest of this entry »
Starring Ethan Hawke, Willem Defoe, Sam Neill
No matter how many times vampire stories are done to death, they just won’t die. But at least some of them attempt to be unique.
A few years in the future, a vampire plague ravishes the earth. Other than not being able to go outside during the day, life eventually goes on. Banks and schools and companies still run, lawns still get mowed, curtains are blackout fabric, and the business day runs from sun-down to sun-up. Human-farming has become a big business, as has trying to develop a blood substitute.
Humans quickly become a dying breed, usually captured for farms, or instant use. As the vampires turn more and more humans, their source of sustenance, human blood, is drying up.
Without human blood or a functioning substitute, the vampires will degenerate – pointed ears, lose their hair, they turn into cannibalistic bat-like creatures. That is the point at which humanity is truly lost.
If you liked Twilight, you will love Clay & Susan Griffith’s The Greyfriar, the first volume of their Vampire Empire series. If you’re into any of this trendy YA-ish Vampire stuff, you will go nuts for this book. And how stunning is that cover art?
A young beautiful princess destined for a political marriage to a man she’s never met. A brash, ambitious, broad shouldered American hero out to prove the strength of his people. And The Greyfriar, a mysterious masked hero who operates from within vampire territory to help the human cause. Globe spanning Empires, blood thirsty vampires, and humanity on the brink of a war to take back what is rightfully theirs. What’s not to like? Did I mention the handsome and intellectual Scottish vampire who tends to dress in tight pants, an overcoat and no shirt (they don’t feel the cold, you know). The Greyfriar would make an excellent movie.
Too bad I’m not the intended audience.
My original review for Blindsight was written a few years ago and posted here. I recently re read the book, and made some updates to the review. Suffice to say, the book knocked my socks off even more the second time around.
Remember the movie Alien? Now add some H. Beam Piper, some Event Horizon, some of Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris. Populate with freaky characters, voluntary (and involuntary) lobotomies, and one very shy vampire. Welcome to Blindsight, Peter Watts’ scarier side of first contact, where aliens are truly alien, and do not want to talk to us, no matter how nice we are.
I remember Peter Watts from a number of years ago, I read his novel, Starfish, the first novel in the Rifters Trilogy. It was a harsh read for me, I wasn’t sure how to react to the sociopathic characters, but I appreciated Watts’ background in marine biology. Blindsight gets away from the marine biology, and introduces us to a warmer, fuzzier breed of sociopaths, and their vampire captain. Thanks to an ingenius explaination of the evolution, extinction, and genetic recreation of vampires on earth, Sarasti and by extention Watts, have quite the cult following.
Blindsight is told through the eyes of Siri Keeton, whose childhood operation to cure his epilepsy took half his brain with it. Siri’s single hemisphere of grey matter adapted enough to allow him to live a semi-normal life. A savant of interpreting body language, Siri is the perfect objective observer, the perfect recorder. He’ll read your “surfaces”, and while you’re talking about computer programming, he’s reading your favorite color, if you liked what you had for dinner last night, and what your sexual preferences are. He might not be able to tell you what you said, but he can tell you exactly what you meant.