Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I, Vampire – review

Author: Michael Romkey

First published: 1990

Contains spoilers

The blurb: “Women are my weakness.

“Or to be more accurate, I should say they are my greatest weakness, for I have many. Travel. Books. Classical music. Art. Excellent wine. And, formerly, cocaine. I admit these things without a sense of guilt. I am, as my friend from Vienna says, a man with a man’s contradictions.

“I am neither good nor bad, neither angel nor devil.

“I am man.

“I am vampire.”

The review: I, vampire is an older book and, from what I can gather, the start of a larger series. It is based on the journals of David Parker, an independently wealthy man who was pushed towards law as a career when his passion was music. A man who made regrettable decisions regarding love (and marriage) but who, as he contemplated suicide, met a mysterious Russian woman who changed his life.

The journals look retrospectively at his journey whilst charting the challenges he faces in contemporary Paris. The Russian – Tatiana Romanov (yes, that one) – was a vampire and, fearing an enemy who stalked her, turned David.

In this the vampirism is a virus that completely rewrites the genetic code – though many of the abilities seem supernatural. However the virus is weak, the human immune system will fight it off and it takes three infections to ensure turning (some vampire stories insist on three bites to turn).

The vampires are split into two groups. The good vampires, the illuminati, are the group David sides with. As well as Tatiana we meet Mozart and Rasputin. The evil vampires are under the dominion of Cesar Borgia and (as well as some inconsequential vampires turned to throw David) we meet Jack the Ripper (Prince Albert Victor), Lucrezia Borgia and General von Baden (presumably Max).

The virus makes a vampire susceptible to sunlight (though the illuminati have worked out how to walk in the sun), gives mesmeric powers, David is taught how to levitate and we see shape shifting and body-part reattachment – as I say more supernatural than science sourced.

The story is very well written but I was unsure as I read it. The main character is prone to being maudlin, the good vampire trip may have been fresh(er) in 1990 but is hackneyed now and I didn’t overly like the number of famous vampires. But maybe that was just me or just a reaction to over twenty years of being subjected to moody, romantic, good vampires.

All in all, for the quality of the prose and, bearing in mind the good vampire aspect, 6 out of 10.

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