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I’ve been reading vampire and horror novels for most of my life, and every now and again, there’s one that will blow my mind….”Donor” is that very book. I found it by chance on the Samhain Publishing website, read the synopsis, and took a chance. The synopsis is that modern-day vampire Richard, with his partner Paul, look to goth clubs and outsiders to be willing “donors” to their bloodthirsty appetites. It’s an arrangement that is not without risks to both parties and when unsuspecting Lenore walks into a feeding gone wrong, it is decided she should be the next donor. Albeit unwilling, it beats the alternative, and Lenore’s survival instincts kick into overdrive, complicated by a pill addiction which uptight Richard must keep her in supply of if he wants to keep her as his donor. The relationships develop, and get complicated as Paul befriends Lenore and becomes an unlikely ally. But the audience is left to wonder, is he really Lenore’s friend? Or just toying with his future prey? In the hands of a less talented author, this premise would fail badly, sound hokey or just insult the readers’ intelligence, but Ms Hearty takes the challenge and makes good.
Judging from the Samhain publishing website, this is Ms Hearty’s first novel, and I do pray it is not her last. Her writing style is far from highbrow, but she still shows a great command for dialogue and tense situations. Paul’s morbid humour throughout the novel is very reminiscent of tongue-in-cheek humour from Anne Rice’s Lestat character, and the cat-and-mouse scenes build up tension as Lenore interacts with both her captors. Neither character touch Lenore physically in anyway, but during conversations and scenes of the actual feeding, the sexual tension and intimacy is so present, you can taste the blood on your own tongue. There’s no overtly descriptive scenes and the graphic violence is mostly implied, but that doesn’t take away from the desperation of Lenore’s position or the psychotic intentions of Richard’s true nature.
As the novel progresses, we are introduced to Charles, Paul’s “Renfield” character so to speak (yes, they use that very term!) who sees Lenore as an obstacle to <i>his</i> ultimate goal, which is the promised reward of becoming a vampire like Richard and Paul, becoming another threat to Lenore’s survival.
To break the monotony and alleviate his own isolation, Paul takes Lenore to an all-night greasy spoon every other week so that Richard can “supplement” and gives us chilling scenes of sneaking Lenore’s blood into coffee mugs, sipping it as casually as Lenore sips her own coffee while discussing the finer points of being kidnapped by vampires. Such scenes I can imagine on a big screen, directed by Quentin Tarantino. If anyone could make this into a worthy film, I’m convinced it would be either him or Robert Rodriguez. I really do beg Ms Hearty that she write, if not a sequel, then a novel with a hint of what may have happened after the complicated ending of this first book. It wasn’t explosive or satisfying, but you didn’t come away feeling cheated by a cop-out ending. It felt rather like the natural progression to the past events.
Richard and Paul are another brand of bad-ass vampires, neither of them nice, neither of them sexy or “sparkly” but with all of their sadistic pleasures, bloodthirsty appetites and character flaws, you’d still want to hang out with them….If you ask me, that kind of charisma and pull are what would be the most evil of all vampire powers.
Author: Bekka Black
Being an avid fan of “Dracula” and the style in which it was written, this fresh modern take on the classic is both fun and ingenius. It opens up one of the original vampire legends for our next generation of vampire lovers while keeping the scares and the mysterious feel of the original. Mina and Jon are romantically involved college students, not taking life as seriously as their victorian couterparts, when Jon takes a business trip for his friend’s father to Romania….Meeting up with Dracula, while Mina is dealing with the deteriorating health of her friends, Renfield and Lucy. Keeping this modern and relevant without talking down to her young audience, Ms Black just totally gets the original story enough to translate it through text and e-speak to grab the attention of younger readers…..Those criticizing the format of this book would do well to pick up Bram Stoker’s original “Dracula” to see the story mostly unfolds in letters and journal entries, the victorian equivalent of our own methods of communication. It was a popular story telling device in its day, and quite effective. The emotion Mina expresses during the climax is no less than the original book, possibly more passionate, but keeps Mina as remaining one of my most favorite classic lit heroines of all time. She still steps out of her percieved female role to help the people she loves and basically, she saves herself rather than waiting for her man to do it. I think any Dracula or vampire lover needs to read this book….Absolutely worthy read and hopefully not the last we’ve seen of Bekka Black.
This book is a wonderful primer for those new to the vampire genre….Any “Twilight” or “True Blood” fan would do well reading this…. It began as research to her final class she needed for her Masters degree, after writing papers on similar subjects for History and Criminology classes….Well, from “Search for Lure of the Vampire” comes this golden nugget of a book. Citing sources such as “The Lexington Vampire Examiner” this book is well-researched, and concisely put together for easy reading at any level. I’d like to give particular attention to the essay “Lure of the Dead Boyfriend” and “The Vampire’s influence on Teenage Self Identification” in particular, having been a vampire fan since age 9, (probably younger) it would’ve been very interesting to me, someone else’s opinion on how teens and vampires seemed to mesh so well and it explains in small detail the draw of the popular “Twilight” series and some caveats in that….In summary, this really is a great resource book for vampire fans, new and seasoned, listing other vampire novels, movies, and vampires in other media. It also includes essays contributed by Elizabeth Loraine, Charles E. Butler and Denise Verrico, I really, really enjoyed reading this through, and will probably keep it close to re-read as the mood strikes! 9/10
The Slate Hill Covenant
Author: Bonnie Stewart
Although a well-written novel, this book was difficult to get through. The author pulls no punches and unflinchingly describes scenes of abuse and neglect, with the more serious crimes such as molestation and incest implied, but no less brutally.
The story follows a promiscuous mother of six who subsequently dies in childbirth, which her dysfunctional children cover up. The mother and grandfather had often threatened the children into behaving by using CPS or the “Authorities” as a punishment, promising even more misery and misuse. Naturally, this is what the children think of after their mother’s demise, so they make a “covenant” to cover up her death and stay together. Unfortunately, this is less easily done when Ellabeth, the oldest child, does the cooking, cleaning and caretaking, rising the suspicion of a tired, useless Child Services worker after suddenly seeing the signs of neglect she’s used to covering up for vanish. This prompts the children to murderous lengths to stay together, as one by one, they eliminate any grown-up with the authority to separate them.
Bonnie Stewart has given us a fantastic first effort, followed by “Ellabeth the Oldest”, which follows Ellabeth in her quest to keep her siblings together after the second family tragedy. 8/10