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Posts Tagged ‘vampires’

Lily Wight

     Updated 16/10/2015

     The Bloody Red Baron (1995) is the second novel in Kim Newman’s superlative and ever-expanding Anno Dracula series.  Newman continues to weave effortlessly both history and fiction to conjure a world in which Dracula – formerly wed to Queen Victoria – has joined forces with The Kaiser to bring terror to Europe.

     The shift in time and tone may surprise some readers expecting more of the first book’s Victorian gothic.  Book two is a World War I novel that successfully captures the tropes of military fiction whilst broadening its appeal with genre-mashing wit and just the right amount of girl power so you won’t miss those smog bound cobbled streets whatsoever.

     A running theme of genetic experimentation and weird science ensures that the series becomes increasingly pertinent and there is plenty of action too…

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Lily Wight

     John Polidori (1795 – 1821) is best remembered as Lord Byron’s travelling companion and personal physician but his short story, The Vampyre (1819) is the first significant vampire tale in English Literature, following on from Lady Caroline Lamb’s less revered Gothic Novel, Glenarvon (1816).

     The Vampyre is rather prosaic and melodramatic for modern tastes yet its brevity and vital role in vampire mythology make it an essential read.  The Vampyre himself, Lord Ruthven, is the original frilly-cuffed brooding immortal; a character endowed with the dangerous dilettantism associated with the Romantic writers and artists who, for many, have come to define the tastes, fashions and attitudes of the Georgian era.  Ruthven’s style of vampirism bridges the gap between the demons and monsters of folklore and the modern vampire anti-hero with his magnetic charisma and troubled conscience.  This new archetype was later perfected and explored by…

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Lily Wight

     Updated 09/01/2015

     Every vampire fan should be well aware of White Wolf’s seminal role-playing game system, Vampire; which effectively collates and categorizes every bit of vampire lore and literature up to and including the work of Anne Rice.

     This book owns a hefty title – and well it might – as it boasts a doorstop-sized collection of spin-off novels and associated writings, re-edited chronologically into a complex and epic drama.

     With numerous authors at work there is some jarring in the narrative style and the structure suffers, albeit necessarily for the books conceit.  Certain events are needlessly re-played from different characters’ perspectives without providing extra insight whilst dramatic tension is often lost when chronology forces precedence over plot.

     There is however so much going on that new readers of all tastes…

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Lily Wight

     

     Updated 14/06/2014

     It takes a writer as bold as Game of Throne’s George R.R. Martin to pen a Southern Gothic vampire novel just three years after the publication of Anne Rice’s genre-bending Interview With The Vampire.

     Martin’s Fevre Dream includes plenty of Rice’s familiar tropes – such as setting, era and two bickering immortal dandies – but Fevre Dream has less romance and more grit, as though two writers used the same remit to inspire very different tales.

     Martin pens marvellous prose in any genre, he is descriptive but never dull and poetic without being florid.  He has a knack for authentic, character-crafting speech and an ability to make even the driest detail fascinating so readers will come away with a new love and comprehensive understanding of life as a Mississippi steamboat captain even if…

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Lily Wight

     Updated 05/06/2014

     Pat Brien’s Denied is a refreshingly old-school vampire yarn that owes more to Hammer era Dracula than Twilight style teen romance (cheer or boo here as you prefer).

     
     Brien does an admirable job of honing and reinvigorating gothic folklore by finding ingenious and refreshing ways to reconnect disparate vampire archetypes.
   
      Monstrous Nosferatu and brooding immortals share an intriguing new evolution and the inclusion of werewolves takes the tale to new levels of adventure, mystery and page-turning excitement.
   
     The novel has two distinct parts, the first  – which acts as an extended prologue – is quite different in tone and location to the latter.  It’s a bold structural move, as readers may prefer one part of the book over the other, but Brien’s commitment, combined…

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Lily Wight

Updated 03/06/2014

     Despite obvious extensive research and the Stoker seal of approval belated Dracula sequel Dracula The Un-Dead is a wasted opportunity which panders to modern tastes instead of keeping faith with the original vampire classic.

     Dacre Stoker and collaborator Ian Holt throw in everything from Elizabeth Bathory and Jack The Ripper to The Titanic creating a convoluted yarn which, although fast paced, struggles to find themes and focus.

     This sort of  Victorian Gothic Alternative History, or Literary Re-imagining, has been done far more successfully before by author Kim Newman whose Anno Dracula series is both effortless and ingenious in its use of similar settings and characters.

     The Un-Dead reads more like a sequel to Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula movie and when Dracula intones to Mina’s son “I am your father!!!” you may just die…

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Lily Wight

     A “subtle” hint of Literary misogyny has confined Carmilla to countless Hammer-style lesbian vampire flicks yet J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s perfectly executed short novel (1872) preceded Bram Stoker’s Dracula by a good twenty years.

     Many familiar folkloric traditions were collected and presented here first, so Le Fanu’s tale has lost non of its relevance.  The foggy Eastern European locales, racing horse-drawn carriages, suspicious locals and masquerade balls are all present and continue to contribute to the variable laws of vampirism.
     The prose is fast-paced and contemporary with a tantalising cinematic quality.  Taut with tension and genuinely chilling Carmilla deserves just as much adoration as The Count!

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