Monday, July 28, 2014
First published: 2014 (dual edition)
The Blurb: A year after meeting the enigmatic Christina Radaluc during his investigation into the so-called Vampire Murders in Romania, investigative journalist Alan Dexter finds himself beset by a recurring nightmare.
Includes the prequel 'Dracula Doesnt' (sic) Live Here Anymore', also by Brian L. Porter.
Christina, he believes, is calling to him. She is in trouble and needs his help, though how she could possibly reach into his dreams is a mystery to him. On such flimsy 'evidence' Dexter enlists the help of his friend and fellow journalist Karen Bailey who, though skeptical of his story, agrees to travel to Romania with him to assist in his quest to find and solve the mystery of Christina's appearance in his nightmares. On arriving in Romania they discover that not only Christina, but her brother, a local police officer, have been missing for months, and the pair set out to find them.
Dexter retraces his steps from his previous visit to Romania, hoping to find some connection with his previous investigation and the current disappearance of the woman he realizes he has fallen in love with. What they discover, however, takes them far beyond the realms of the believable as the intrepid pair enter a dark world of long-forgotten practices and fear-filled corridors.
Do vampires really exist?
Can Dexter and Karen save the beautiful Christina and her brother from the jaws of a living nightmare far more terrible than anything Dexter's own fevered dreams could produce?
As the story moves from the city to the cold, bare, mountainous regions of Transylvania, land of myth and terrifying legend and the ancestral home of Christina's family, Kiss of Life moves ever closer to it's (sic) shattering and terrible conclusion.
The review: I picked up the kindle edition of Kiss of Life that came with the prequel short story as listed in the blurb. This was ultimately quite useful as it gave necessary background for the main story.
In Dracula Doesn’t Live Here Anymore we meet hack journalist Dexter who, due to sheer luck, is asked to report on a murder story in Romania where victims are being drained of blood. He meets Romanian journalist Christina Radaluć (shuffle the letters) and her policeman cousin (not brother as the blurb says, though his familial status does change in the book at one point) named Alex. The story is a short and that is a shame as we don’t really delve into an investigation as such. We do delve into a love affair between Dexter and Christina and vampire lore. This is where things go wrong.
Did you shuffle the letters? Yes, Christina is a descendent of the Dracula family and tying Prince Vlad and Count Dracula is not necessarily a bad thing – if the author is accurate within the boundaries of the novel. So when Christina tells him that the folklore of the Romanian vampire says they can walk in daylight “contrary to Stoker” I inwardly groaned as, as we know, Stoker had the Count active in daylight in the novel. Such a thing may be little but is very annoying. We are told that Christina’s family owned a guesthouse in Whitby “just as the fictional character… …had done” – assuming this to be the Count then all the English property owned by the Count was in London, not Whitby.
There is an inaccurate pop-culture history of Prince Vlad III – we are told the family is one of the oldest in Transylvania (they were Walachian), that his name was Prince Vlad Draculea (use of that spelling making me wonder why the “e” was missing in the anagram) son of the original Prince who bore the name Dracula (Prince Vlad II was Dracul – not Dracula). To be fair the nationality of the family does seem to switch to Wallachia in the main story at one point but then switches back, making it seem that the two Principalities are interchangeable. Prince Vlad is also demoted to Count in a passage in that book (where it was referring to the historical persona).
They were the main errors surrounding Dracula (book and historical) but if you know Stoker it serves to diminish the work in hand. When it came to folklore we are told that Greeks called vampires Vrykolakas (fair enough) and they were known as Chupacabra in Central and South America – this made me start, due to the fact that the Chupacabra legend is very modern – dating only to 1995.
There were errors in type also. Three times Christina becomes Christian. There is a section where they eat, go to Dexter's room for a nightcap and then leave the bar (not his room) to go and eat again – it is a muddled section, which I re-read several times to check it wasn't me, and I am sure that the author changed locations in one of the drafts and hadn’t tidied the draft. The stories are rather short (the first is a short the second probably at novella length) and very occasionally the language shows a need of an edit but the dialogue probably needed a bit more work as it feels forced at times.
All that said I was very taken by the main plot twist, which was nice. To me the author needs to give the draft a re-proof and also to get his geography, historical detail and Stoker orientated commentary accurate. The first story could stand expanding, taking us into the investigation, but ultimately keeping the neat ending of the main piece. 4 out of 10.
Saturday, July 26, 2014
First released: 2014
I liked the first season of Hemlock Grove. I felt that the way they did the monster mash was interesting. The lycanthropy had some nice twists, the idea of an upyr who didn’t know his own nature worked well and the variant of the Frankenstein Monster was fantastic.
So when season 2 was released to Netflix (the series is a Netflix original) I had much to look forward to. Unfortunately the series fell short for me this time around.
|Nicole Boivin as Shelley|
|a serial killer cult?|
|a moment of gore|
The imdb page is here.
Thursday, July 24, 2014
First published: 2011
The blurb: Body Parts, Blood, Fetishism…
Colt Lewis, a rookie fire paramedic, is obsessed with finding the severed foot of his first victim after she dies in his arms. His search takes him into the connected lives of a graduate research student, with the rarest blood in the world and the vampire fetishist who is stalking her. Within the corridors of high-stakes medical research laboratories, the shadow world of body parts dealers, and the underground Goth clubs of Los Angeles, Lewis uncovers a tangled maze of needles, drugs and maniacal ritual, all of which lead to death. But whose death? An unusual and fast-paced LA Noir thriller.
The review: I first came across Code Blood, or should I say an excerpt thereof, in the anthology Vampires: Romance to Rippers; an anthology of tasty stories Vol. 1 and was so taken by the villain of the piece, Markus, that I immediately ordered the book. As I delved into the book I found I disliked Markus intensely – that is what you are meant to do, I guess – but that in no way made him less of a well written character and the book took us away from the supernatural vampire and into the realm where people believe they are vampires – and you know what, sometimes it is good to move out of the supernatural for a while.
Now I don’t want to get into a debate about whether so called vampyres truly are people who need to drink blood to survive – but I can certainly say that Markus is more in the realm of the deluded. An albino with blood and death fetishes he is thoroughly dislikeable and a very real danger to a young Tibetan Grad student who has Bombay Blood, a rare blood type that can be transfused into most other blood groups but cannot accept transfusion of anything bar their type. His aim is to sell it to the vampire community (and keep some for himself).
We also meet Colt, a firefighter and paramedic who, still in training as the latter, has to attend an accident where a young woman has lost her foot. The foot is never recovered and Colt becomes obsessed with finding it – it was actually picked up and stolen by Markus. I found myself somewhat annoyed by the Colt character as he was an idealist, and too emotionally drawn in (something his colleagues try to tell him) and I just felt that, where he real, he’d be heading for one major emotional crash and burn.
The characterisations were well done in the book and it was a quick read. It concentrated, to some degree, more on the thoughts and emotions of the characters, rather than the actual thriller aspect, but they were well drawn (if at times unsympathetic) characters. 7 out of 10.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
First published: 2011
The Blurb: Vampires first entered the pop culture arena with Bram Stoker's 1897 novel, Dracula. Today, vampires are everywhere. From Buffy the Vampire Slayer to the Twilight Saga to HBO's True Blood series, pop culture can't get enough of the vampire phenomenon.
Bringing her literary expertise to this timely subject, Susannah Clements reveals the roots of the vampire myth and shows how it was originally immersed in Christian values and symbolism. Over time, however, vampires have been "defanged" as their spiritual significance has waned, and what was once the embodiment of evil has turned into a teen idol and the ultimate romantic hero. Clements offers a close reading of selected vampire texts, explaining how this transformation occurred and helping readers discern between the variety of vampire stories presented in movies, TV shows, and novels. Her probing engagement of the vampire metaphor enables readers to make Christian sense of this popular obsession.
The review: I came across this through a Facebook Group and an article by Anthony Hogg. Now I am not a Christian (by a long shot) but the concept of the book seemed intriguing to me and I am always open to hearing a different viewpoint. Of course the joy of the vampire genre is that it is open to multiple interpretations and, as an archetype, the vampire is a malleable beast.
Clements covers the four vampire shows/novels mentioned above and the works of Anne Rice and attempts to show that the vampire has gone from the embodiment of evil to a romantic hero – as the subtitle relates – and of course this is true, except where the vampire is the embodiment of evil still, such as in such up to date series like 30 Days of Night. But she is not wrong that there is a definitive romantic movement in the genre. Interestingly she plots a secular course, where the tamer the vampire becomes the more secular the tale.
This was an interesting suggestion, though I’d suggest that the secularisation of the vampire is more to do with the general secularisation of society than it is the move to the romantic vampire, for instance in (and citing again) 30 Days of Night we have a rather secular take on the myth without the romance and with plenty of evil brutality.
Clements does, in my opinion, miss some directions she might have taken. She correctly argues that Dracula is a Christian novel. However her concentration is on the hunters and the apotropaic icons used in the novel. I think there was as much argument to be found in the fact that Stoker thought Dracula meant Devil, that he gave the Count the pseudonym Count De Ville and suggested he was schooled by the Devil in the Scholomance - indeed over time Hammer make the character, quite literally, the Antichrist.
Clements argues that Twilight is the most secular of the main series she looks at and her arguments are sound. Whilst Edward worries for Bella’s soul it is almost a throwaway comment and barely explored. However I think that the attitudes shown in the novel might reflect on the author’s social outlook and, being from quite an active religion, that may also reflect on her faith but this is not explored in here.
I think it would have been interesting to have explored I Am Legend as the movie took a totally secular novel, ignored or twisted the point of the climax of the book and created a very pro-Christian narrative. However that is just a wish list moment.
The book was well written and well argued, it was interesting to look at these things from another direction. It contains indexing and a bibliography - always a plus point. A worthy volume. 8 out of 10.
Sunday, July 20, 2014
I have seen positive and negative comments about the film – indeed it seems to polarise viewers. I have also heard various directors’ work it is compared to. What I haven’t particularly seen is a likening to The Man Who Fell to Earth but it is very much in the same ball park as an alien is used to explore someone who seems outside society and through that character we start to question the essence of what is humanity. However the question we need to ask is, “Is it vamp?”
|Scarlett Johansson is the girl|
|only skin remains|
|on the beach|
|what is under the skin?|
However, despite some familiar tropes I don’t think that this is Vamp. If anything the aliens are predators but that doesn’t make them vampires per se. Indeed I was kind of reminded of the film Prey, at least with regard the alien predatory aspect. Not Vamp.
Friday, July 18, 2014
First aired: 2014
When I reviewed season 1 (and only) of Dracula I had seen episode 1 of this series but was moved to say, in comparison to the older series, “the dark, griminess of Penny Dreadful’s London was a million time more effective”. I stick by that, indeed the series had a huge amount going for it – though it might have been better in some ways.
|Chandler, Murray and Ives|
|David Warner as Van Helsing|
|Harry Treadaway as Frankenstein|
|a vampire bride|
The imdb page is here.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Release date: 2014
When I watched Season 3 of Lost Girl I felt it was a little bit disjointed and perhaps a tad meandering, with no real big bad point. It did, however, reposition the main characters. This would either work or otherwise in the next season’s favour.
As we enter season 4 Tamsin (Rachel Skarsten), the Valkyrie, is dead and 18 months have passed. Bo (Anna Silk) is literally a Lost Girl as she was taken by the mysterious Wanderer (Kyle Schmid, Blood Ties & Being Human (US)), unfortunately none of those left behind remember her. Somehow Vex (Paul Amos) has taken control of the Dark Fae and Kenzie (Ksenia Solo) is masquerading as a fae and in a clandestine relationship with Dyson (Kris Holden-Ried, Underworld: Awakening & The Death of Alice Blue).
|Kyle Schmid as the Wanderer|
All in all the season wasn’t just back on form, I’d say it was the best so far. 7 out of 10.
The imdb page is here.