Tuesday, March 30, 2010

and Falling, fly – review

Author: Skyler White

Release date: 2010

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: In a dark and seedy underground of burned-out rock stars and angels-turned-vampires, a revolutionary neuroscientist and a fallen angel must pit medicine against mythology in an attempt to erase their tortured pasts… but at what price?

Olivia, vampire and fallen angel of desire, is hopeless… and damned. Since the fall from Eden, she has hungered for love, but fed only on desire. Dominic O’Shaughnessy is a neuroscientist plagued by impossible visions. When his research and her despair collide at L’Otel Matillide – a subterranean hell of beauty, demons and dreams – rationalist and angel unite in a clash of desire and damnation that threaten to destroy them both.

In this fractured Hotel of the Damned, Olivia and Dominic discover the only force consistent in their opposing realities is the deep, erotic gravity between them. Bound to each other finally in a knot of interwoven freedoms, Dominic and Olivia – the vision-touched scientist and the earthbound angel, reborn and undead – encounter the mystery of love and find it is both fall… and flight.

Review: Skyler White was good enough to contact me and ask me to review this, her debut novel. Between our first communiqué and getting the book I was also contacted by my friend Derek, from over at Mondo Vampire, suggesting I might want to read the book. A recommendation I took in good faith as Derek has excellent taste in literature and… well let me just say wow. I say that with the full force of jealousy having read one of the best crafted debuts that I have had the pleasure of coming across.

However, you will want more nitty-gritty than my enthusiastic gushing and rightly so because this book deserves it. Skyler White has, with consummate skill, crafted not only a darkly passionate book that does wonderfully unusual things with the genre, she has crafted a book that explores desire and spirituality in a way I haven’t seen for some time. She draws a gothic landscape perhaps with a tint of Tanith Lee but opens a philosophical vein with a scalpel of eroticism that was shaded with an edge of Milan Kundera.

But, to our lore. Olivia – and all the other vampires – are fallen angels of desire. Earthbound, with their wings and shadows stored in their tombs they are forced to subsist on the blood of man. They feed through quills on the razor edge of their teeth and beneath the nails. These can become dull, unable to scratch unnoticed but tearing and murderous unless they are sharpened by one of their sisters. They must feed on desire, or fear, and their teeth break if they bite someone who does not desire or fear them. They are shapeshifters in that their body type alters to meet the desire of one they are with, become taller or shorter, gaining or losing body mass, their breasts enlarging or shrinking. They do not see themselves in the mirror – just what others desire, they are virgins as their sex is closed and monstrous and their flesh is insensate. This is the basic lore for the vampires, though there is much to explore within the book.

Dominic, on the other hand, is a realist and believes that Olivia and her sisters are self deluded, only convincing themselves that they are vampires, and thus he seeks to cure them of their delusion. He has to anchor himself in scientific reality to save his sanity as he is a reborn, plagued with the memories of a myriad past lives all seeming as real as his memories from this life.

Both characters were beautifully drawn and skilfully manoeuvred to allow Skyler to explore the nature of desire and the clash between the supernatural and the scientific. A book that should be in all vampire genre fans collections, as well as readers of damn good, thought provoking prose. 9 out of 10.


Derek Tatum said...

Glad you liked it.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

wonderful book Derek

MadeInScotland said...


I know I mentioned it before, but just in case you didn't catch the programme...

Made in Scotland: There Are Such Things


Taliesin_ttlg said...

cheers Made in Scotland... I listened to it on the i-player yesterday, a fascinating case but always worth mentioning again :)