Monday, March 30, 2009

The Rest Falls Away – review

Author: Colleen Gleason

First Published: 2007

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: Beneath the glitter of Dazzling Nineteenth-Century London society lurks a bloodthirsty evil…

Vampires have always lived amongst them, quietly attacking unsuspecting debutantes and dandified Lords as well as hackney drivers and Bond Street milliners. If not for the vampire slayers of the Gardella family, these immortal creatures would have long ago taken over the world.

In every generation, a Gardella is called to accept the family legacy, and this time, Victoria Gardella Grantworth is chosen, on the eve of her debut, to carry the stake. But as she moves between the crush of ballrooms and dangerous moonlit streets, Victoria’s heart is torn between London’s most eligible bachelor, the Marquess of Rockley, and her duty. And when she comes face-to-face with the most powerful vampire in history, Victoria must ultimately make a choice between obligation and love…

The review: This is the first book of the Gardella Vampire Chronicles and looking at the blurb (and content) we can tell that this is set in the Late Regency to early Victorian period – the book mentions the Vampyre by Polidori and this was published at the end of the Regency period. However we can also see an immediate certain similarity with the premise behind a certain contemporary vampire slayer. Indeed there are similarities – a young woman called to slay vampires except… Victoria is a venator and whilst the familial line produces a strong venator once a generation not all venators are from the family. Victoria has innate abilities due to her familial line but also her vis bulla – a silver piercing given to all initiated venators – gives her additional strength and power.

Her enemy, Lilith, is the daughter of Judas Iscariot: “He is known as the betrayer, yet the Lord forgave him as he did all mankind. But Judas Iscariot did not accept the forgiveness, and he hanged himself, as you know. He was thus damned to eternal hell. The devil sold him back his corporeal body, and gave him the power to walk the earth”… which, whilst slightly changed to include the devil, is fairly much lifted from Dracula 2001.

However the vampire genre is a hotchpotch of lifted concepts and reworkings and there is something to be said for the chosen setting. There is a sensibility that harks back to the Regency/Victorian periods within the chapter titles and Gleason even adds in an occasional eroticism that works. There might be a degree of it being a stylised or romanticised look at that period but I don’t know enough about the period to tell (or, quite frankly, care). However, what I do care about is vampiric lore and myth and one aspect of this really irked me.

Gleason has different levels or grades of vampires (fair enough) that can be despatched by stake (they dust), beheading and sunlight… She also mentions The Vampyre, as I said earlier. “…he hadn’t wasted his time reading that ridiculous novel by Polidori, he knew what lore said about protecting oneself from the undead.” At the time this is set Polidori’s novel would be the first and only English language vampire story. There would also be traditional lore, but neither Polidori’s work nor the lore would mention sunlight, as the dissolution of vampiric flesh in the sun had not been invented by the film industry (which itself did not exist). Of course you can have sunlight in your lore but don’t, even in such a cursory way, connect your lore with something else that had very different lore and not explain the inaccuracies between their story and yours… Perhaps I am too harsh… Incidentally we have the strange lore that sunlight will destroy a vampire but fire will not.

So the book is somewhat derivative but the setting is quite nice. That said I could take or leave this as a book, it did nothing that really grabbed me and took my breath away, and whilst I might read book 2 if found in a second hand store (as book 1 was actually) I wouldn’t personally go out of my way to search it out. However if you are looking for something a little Buffy, a little period and a little vampire chick-lit, then this might be for you. 5.5 out of 10.


Derek "Ruthven" Tatum said...

I was wondering about this series. Here in the US it is sold as Romance, and while I expect some Romance, recently that tag hasn't been the most accurate gauge for books.

I do know what you mean about authors who mention a story and try to compare it to the "truth" their characters believe. If you really want your head to explode, try to find a copy of Vincent Courtney's "Vampire Beat."

Taliesin_ttlg said...

I'm not altogether sure I want my head to explode but I am now intrigued!