By Ria Bridges | Wednesday, December 11th, 2013 at 2:00 pm
REVIEW SUMMARY: An intelligent vampire/human romance set in post-WWI England.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Socially anxious and bored with high society life, Charlotte finds herself drawn to the vampire Karl, her father’s new research assistant. As their relationship grows, they find themselves under growing threat from Karl’s old master, the obsessive and twistedly-religious Kristian.
MY REVIEW: PROS: Intelligent social commentary; uncommon time period for such a novel; beautifully poetic writing. CONS: Somewhat predictable plot; heavy use of what are now common vampire tropes. BOTTOM LINE: It won’t revitalize the genre, but it’s a welcome addition to bookshelves that are filled with trite immortal romances — enough of a change from convention and with enough social and scientific commentary that it will keep readers engaged and entertained.
A classic vampire-human historical romance, set in England after World War I, is what Warrington sets up in A Taste of Blood Wine. Not an idea that hasn’t been done in a dozen and one forms over time, to the point where most offerings of this type are fairly derivative and don’t bring anything new or interesting to the genre. So right off the bat Warrington’s work faces some stiff competition in that it’s another vampire romance in a saturated genre, and thus, sadly, is likely to be overlooked and passed over.
Variety is reporting that FX has ordered 13 episodes of the television adaptation of Guillermo del Toro’s The Strain, which is based on the novel he co-authored with Chuck Hogan. The pilot episode was co-written by the writing duo and del Toro himself directed it.
They are calling The Strain a “high concept thriller” about Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, the head of the Center for Disease Control Canary Team, who is summoned to investigate a mysterious viral outbreak in New York City. Surprise! It’s an evil strain of vampirism, spreading fast until Ephraim and his ragtag team of vampire hunters fight for humanity’s continued existence.
The novel The Strain (reviewed here) was only the first book of a trilogy. It was followed by The Fall and The Night Eternal. (Note to self: you forgot to read the third book!)
By Nick Sharps | Thursday, November 7th, 2013 at 2:00 pm
REVIEW SUMMARY: An entertaining and thoughtful urban fantasy thriller.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Vampire and college graduate Fortitude Scott must embrace the supernatural world he has so long avoided in order to stop a vicious monster.
MY REVIEW: PROS: Great characters, great dialogue, great themes. CONS: Forgettable villain, lead character is occasionally eclipsed by support. BOTTOM LINE: This is a strong debut with a lot of heart, with an interesting take on the vampire mythos.
I haven’t had a whole lot of time for reading lately (blasphemy, I know) but I was recently able to finish M.L. Brennan’s Generation V and boy-howdy was it a fun novel! I’m not big on vampires. I don’t find them as boring as zombies but they’ve never appealed to me like other monsters. I do love the movie 30 Days of Night for making vampires frightening (perhaps I should check out the comic) and Jonathan Maberry’s portrayal of blood suckers in Assassin’s Code is insanely awesome. Brennan’s vampires are extremely interesting in a completely different way. Read the rest of this entry
Freda Warrington is a British author, known for her epic fantasy, vampire and supernatural novels. Her earliest novels, the Blackbird series, were written and published when she was just finishing her teen years; in the intervening years she has seen numerous stand-alone novels and a trilogy published. (The original Blackbird series has recently been put back into print by Immanion Press.) Four of her novels (Dark Cathedral, Pagan Moon, Dracula, The Undead, and The Amber Citadel) have been nominated for the British Fantasy Society’s Best Novel award. Warrington has also seen numerous short stories published in anthologies and magazines.
Born in Leicester, Warrington grew up in Leicestershire. After completing high school, she trained at the Loughborough College of Art and Design and afterward held a job at the Medical Illustration Department of Leicester Royal Infirmary. She eventually moved to full-time writing, pursuing a love she had had since childhood. In addition to her writing, Warrington works part-time in the Charnwood Forest.
A TASTE OF BLOOD WINE and A DANCE IN BLOOD VELVET are getting stunning new reissues from Titan Books, and Freda answered a few of my questions about the series, and more!
REVIEW SUMMARY: Strong debut novel from a top-tier indie author.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Former rock guitarist flees death to become a vampire and finds something much worse.
MY REVIEW: PROS: Empathetic female protagonist; escalating emotional conflict; fresh twist on vampire genre; tight wrap-up. CONS: Slavery and its theme drags a little; setting is claustrophobic; antagonist is a little weak. BOTTOM LINE: Consistent to Montoure’s strengths in his best short stories, Still Life is beautifully written with strong characters and a surprising plot, and only lacked a larger playground in which to experience its story elements. Read the rest of this entry
REVIEW SUMMARY: A fun story of New York City’s monsters trying to destroy a likable writer who just wants to get over her past, meet a good guy, and finish her tour guide of the city’s secret culture.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A down-and-out writer is hired by a monster-run publishing company to write a tour guide to the monster underbelly of New York City. Her research leads to attacks by incubuses, zombies, golems and a secret villain who wants to turn the city on its head and unleash the brewing war between human and monster.
MY REVIEW PROS: Likable heroine; fun supporting cast; creative world building that almost makes you want this kind of New York City to exist; establishes setting for many exciting stories. CONS: The safeguards that allowed the heroine to intermingle with the monster culture also guarded the reader from feeling truly afraid for her life; humor fell flat too often; the ending jeopardizes future interest in this series. BOTTOM LINE: The Shambling Guide to New York City starts out well enough to keep you reading, gets even better in the middle, and may or may not satisfy in the end. Unfortunately, for this reader the ending watered down the experience. Read the rest of this entry
What would you do if you had unlimited power and eternal life?
Would you…go back to high school? Attend the same classes year after year, going through the pomp and circumstance of one graduation after another, until you found the perfect date to take to prom? Would you…spend your days moping and brooding, finding your only joy in a game of baseball on a stormy day? Or would you…do something else? Anything else?
The authors of this collection have a few ideas; some fanciful, some humorous, and some as dark as an endless night. Join us, and discover what it truly means to be “vampyre.”
Piper Maitland lives with her husband on a farm in Tennessee with three bratty Yorkshire Terriers, a Chinese Crested, and assorted farm animals. She has also written novels under the name Michael Lee West. Visit her online at www.pipermaitland.com.
The Science Behind the Vampires in Hunting Daylight
Bats, big teeth, and blood drinking are beloved staples of vampire lore. Classic literature and horror films have reinforced the immortals’ unusual qualities: they sleep in coffins during the day and stalk the living at night. If a pretty girl accidentally invites a vampire into her house, she can chase him away with garlic, crucifixes, or holy water.
When I wrote my first vampire novel, I wanted to retain the core traditions and debunk others. Since myths and magic arise from undiscovered science, I decided to combine these elements. Drawing from my background in nursing, I created vampires with a human-like physiology. They would have DNA, reproductive systems, and beating hearts.
REVIEW SUMMARY: A technically well-written story about vampires and the quest to stop AIDS, but over-description and a disappointing plot twist stole interest.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A doctor adopts a Romanian orphan baby and discovers a secret that makes her enemy number one for a Mafioso band of vampires.
MY REVIEW: PROS: Well-researched in science, location, and vampire lore; visceral action CONS: Technical jargon slowed the story; weak characters; the turn halfway through removed almost all interest in finishing the story BOTTOM LINE: Probably looked good as an outline, but the execution failed to keep interest, especially after a midpoint twist threw most of it out the window.
Children of the Night begins with a preface of the author’s first hand research visiting Romania and historical locations important to Dracula’s life, and the tragedy of that country’s orphan problem. The story begins with a team of Americans visiting Romania to investigate the orphanage system in order to report back with recommendations for aid. The characterization is interesting enough to keep you reading, and when this section ends, the reader is left with a haunting revelation about the vampires’ plans.
REVIEW SUMMARY: Fans of vampire lore, calisthenics, and combat tricks will appreciate this offering from the creator of The Zombie Combat Manual.
PROS: Ma knows what he’s talking about, from his logical take on the Vampire myth to his no-nonsense approach to fitness in a bloodsucker’s world. CONS: Is sometimes too similar to the The Zombie Combat Manual, but since the books are meant to be part of a series, it can be overlooked. BOTTOM LINE: An entertaining concept, executed well.
There are three main threads running through this book simultaneously: a discussion of the “truth” about vampires, first hand “accounts” of survivors and ghouls, and an easy-to-understand guide to preparing for a vampire attack. The vampire facts weren’t that different from what gets discussed with some seriousness by people who think the Twilight movies were way off base. Obviously, vampires don’t sparkle, turn into mist, or want to have sex with you. According to Ma, all of those myths are part of a carefully conceived plan by the creatures of the night to confuse us humans.
Faith Hunter is the fantasy author of the Jane Yellowrock vampire hunter series and a long time professional fiction writer. Oddly enough, she also has a third shift job and considers trips to New Orleans to be really interesting, hanging out of the window like a pup with it’s nose in the wind, camera in hand, while doing vampire drive-bys. Including her other pen name, Gwen Hunter, she has over 20 published books in 20+ countries around the world. Her latest addition to the Jane Yellowrock series, Death’s Rival, was released by ROC on October 2nd, 2012. She is an original creator of and regular contributor to MagicalWords.net, an industry blog for sci-fi and fantasy writers. You can find out more about Faith at her home on the web, FaithHunter.net, or visit her official Facebook page to try and find Jane.
The Top 10 Ways To Know If Your Girlfriend Is A Vampire
I’ve hunted down a lot of vampires in the past few years. Well, on the printed page as my alter ego Jane Yellowrock, but who’s counting all those little voices in my head anyways? As a result, I’ve gotten pretty good at identifying who a potential blood-fiend might be. Today I want to share these potentially date ending, life-ending, and “why-did-I-just-spend-$100-to-go-out-with-her” ideas with you. It’s your lucky day!
10. The red wine that she’s been swirling in her wine glass for the past five minutes during your date looks just a little thick, just a little warm. When it splashes on the white linen table cloth the stain looks juuuuust a little too bright. And she’s not sharing either.
Keith R.A. DeCandido has posted the table of contents for the upcoming anthology in which he appears: V War, edited by Jonathan Maberry.
Here’s the description:
A sweeping, threaded narrative of the global phenomenon known as the Vampire Wars! Mankind is silently infected by a millennia-old bacteria unknowingly exhumed by a scientific expedition in Antarctica. Now, in some rare cases, a person’s so-called “junk DNA” becomes activated, and depending on their racial and ethnic heritage they begin to manifest one of the many diverse forms of the “others” that are the true basis for the legends of supernatural creatures. These aren’t your usual vampires and werewolves – it goes much deeper than that. Conceived by Jonathan Maberry, V Wars features stories from various “frontlines” as reported by such contributors as Nancy Holder, Yvonne Navarro, James A. Moore, Gregory Frost, John Everson, Keith R.A. DeCandido, and Scott Nicholson (as well as Maberry himself, of course). The result is a compelling series of tales that create a unique chronicle of mankind’s response to this sudden, hidden threat to humanity.
Charlaine Harris is a New York Times bestselling author who has been writing for thirty years. Born and raised in the Mississippi River Delta area, her early works consisted largely of poems about ghosts and teenage angst. She dabbled with plays at Rhodes College in Memphis, then switched to novels a few years later, and achieved publication in 1981 with Sweet and Deadly. She’s the author of four successful novel series so far: Aurora Teagarden, a lighthearted mystery series about a Georgia Librarian; the much darker Shakespeare Mysteries, featuring the amateur sleuth Lily Bard, a karate student who makes her living cleaning houses; The Southern Vampire urban fantasy series about a telepathic waitress named Sookie Stackhouse who works in a bar in the fictional Northern Louisiana town of Bon Temps and served as the basis for HBO’s True Blood TV series; and dark fantasy detective Harper Connelly. Harris has also co-edited four very popular anthologies with her friend Toni L.P. Kelner with another in the works. A member of SFWA, Mystery Writers of America, the American Crime Writers League, Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers Of America, Horror Writers Association, and the International Crime Writers Association, Harris is the married mother of three and lives in small town Arkansas with a house full of rescue dogs. She can be found online at CharlaineHarris.com
SFFWRTCHT: Hi Charlaine! Let’s start with the basics: who were some authors/books which influenced you growing up and in the course of life?
Charlaine Harris: Edgar Allen Poe, Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, Elizabeth Peters, EX Ferrars, Carolyn Keene, Shirley Jackson. Read the rest of this entry
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A wampyr returns to an alternate history New York in 1962 and must decide his own future.
MY REVIEW: PROS: Excellent world building; sympathetic protagonist and interesting characters; the pensive mood; the stylish writing; although this was a welcome introduction into the series… CONS: …allusions to earlier stories probably means this isn’t the best place to start. BOTTOM LINE: Even not having read any of the other books in this series, I can tell that Ad Eternum is a story that gives its protagonist some much-needed closure.
If I’m going to start a new book series, my OCD dictates that I start at the beginning. There exists an irrational fear that doing otherwise will reveal spoilers for the earlier stories, thereby destroying the experience of reading those stories. This is, of course, a silly notion. Even if I could remember any spoiled events by the time I got around to reading them, books are enjoyable in a number of ways aside from the specifics of plot. Still, the only way I will start a series in the middle or end is accidentally.
And so it was that I picked up Elizabeth Bear’s novella Ad Eternum. I realized after I had already started reading it that the numerous allusions to the protagonist’s history probably meant I was late to the party. Sure enough, I learned that it’s the latest (final?) story in her New Amsterdam alternate history series where vampires (here called wampyrs) and magic coexist. By all rights, my OCD should have compelled me to stop reading it. But it was too late; I was already hooked. Read the rest of this entry
By Matt Cardin | Monday, October 24th, 2011 at 11:59 am
I love literary synchronicities, that tendency for oddly meaningful coincidences to occur in conjunction with books and authors. Everybody is familiar, for example, with the famous phenomenon of “just the right book,” in which a new book, author, article, or essay will spontaneously pop up in a person’s life and prove to be just the thing that he or she was looking for or needing to read at that exact moment.
So maybe it’s a fortuitous sign that a minor event of this kind accompanied my recent decision to finalize and publish, at long last, the following interview with Dracula expert Ian Holt, who, working with Bram Stoker’s great-grandnephew Dacre Stoker, co-authored Dracula: The Un-Dead, the official, Stoker-family-sanctioned sequel to Dracula published in 2009. It’s been many months since John DeNardo here at SF Signal gave me the welcome assignment/opportunity to interview Ian. It’s also been many months since I actually conducted the interview via an hour-long phone call. Soon after Ian and I spoke, I went on cyber-sabbatical, withdrawing from all of my online activities and going into hibernation for five months. So the recording just sat there untranscribed, with a truly fascinating conversation lying dormant (“sleeping the sleep of the undead,” as Charlie Brewster might say) in a digital coffin.
REVIEW SUMMARY: Matt Reeves remakes a masterful, evocative Swedish film for American audiences with a good deal of efficiency but without much subtlety.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Lonely, bullied twelve-year-old Owen becomes friends with Abby, a young girl who moves into the apartment next door and who is not what she seems.
PROS: Talented leads Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloë Moretz in challenging roles; Matt Reeves technical prowess; script not too dumbed down for American audiences; a somewhat darker picture than Let the Right One In.
CONS: Not nearly as subtle as the original; too many nods to the original; use of CGI during vampire kill sequences.