Vampires -- fiction
October has a special place in my heart. Pumpkins, changing leaves, cold weather, boots, and, of course, Halloween. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. The idea of ghosts and all types of monsters is just fascinating to me. Which is interesting in itself because I really don’t like being scared. You’ll rarely find me watching a horror movie. But scary books—those I can do, and I love them. Here are some of my favorite creepy books.
The dying days of summer—hot and bright or fog-drenched and rainy—are a suitable time to escape to another century and into the Old World where vampires lurk in musty tombs and sometimes in the candlelight of high society. Michael Sims' collection, Dracula’s Guest, does include Stoker’s title story, but it is also a gathering of kindred pieces that lay out tales both plain and highly-embroidered of the pernicious beings known as vampires. These old school blood-drinkers do not sparkle handsomely in daylight and are decidedly and viciously carnivorous.
I used to have an old Volvo that broke down frequently. The problem was a hose that would fly off of the engine. I always carried a screwdriver which I would use to reattach the hose and go on my way. One morning I was rushing in the door to work after one of these episodes when my supervisor stopped me. “What happened to you?” she asked with concern. I had no idea what she was talking about until I followed her eyes down to my arms and realized that my forearms were covered with black dirt and grease.
I explained about having to fix my car on the way to work, and she just stood and stared at me silently for a very awkward minute. Suddenly she burst into song! “I am woman. Hear me roar. With numbers too big to ignore. And I’ve come too far to turn back and pretend.” She turned to walk away but kept on singing at the top of her lungs. Her song only died away when she turned the corner and went down the other hall.
Right then and there I decided to get a new car.
In the early 15th-century Venice of The Fallen Blade, by Jon Courtenay Grimwood, no one is safe from the political ambitions of the ruling family--not even Giuliette, beautiful cousin of the Duke. She becomes a pawn in the schemes of her aunt and uncle who are regents for the simpleton Duke Marco. Meanwhile, Venice faces external threats from the Ottomans, the Byzantines and the German emperor. It is Atilo il Mauro's job as head of the Assassini to protect Venice and enforce the will of its ruling family while trying not to be destroyed by that family's internal power struggles.
Alexia Tarabotti finds it terribly inconvenient to happen upon a thirsting vampire while she herself is simply starving at an ill-hosted party with few victuals. She quickly dispatches the vamp with her parasol, a handy weapon that has saved her many times. Of course the vampire was no true danger to Alexia, who, as a rare preternatural without a soul, restores mortality (and therefore vulnerability) to such supernaturals as ghosts, vampires, and werewolves with a single touch. These supernaturals co-exist with humans in an alternate Victorian London in Soulless by Gail Carriger, the first of the Parasol Protectorate series.
Witch Diana Bishop and vampire Matthew Clairmont in A Discovery of Witches are the Romeo and Juliet of the supernatural world. This is a book about the powers of magic, books, and love. The novel is clever, well-written, and romantic.
The two meet in Oxford’s Bodeleian Library when Diana, a Yale historian, is doing research and accidently calls up an ancient, powerful manuscript which explains the origins of witches, vampires and demons—and may show how to destroy them, too. She has spent her life denying the magical side of her nature in favor of reason, but when dangerous undead characters start to harass her to get the manuscript, she needs help.
Always keep a book with you in case of an emergency. Last summer I was vacationing in the Outer Banks with my 18-year-old son, Rob, my older son’s fiance, Bec, and a friend of ours, Jen. My friend decided that she wanted to have her nose pierced. She began to look for a tattoo parlor and finally found a place near the beach house. As we drove out into the middle of nowhere, Rob began to think that he needed a tattoo, also. As the mother of two sons, you learn to choose your battles carefully, so I told him that it was his decision. However, inside I was screaming, “NO!! Anything you tattoo now will sag when you get to be my age!!!”
We drove down the island with my son trying to decide what tattoo he would get, and we finally arrived at a tattoo parlor that was in a home! I pulled into the parking lot beside the collection of motorcycles, convinced that now my friend would change her mind when she saw the house. However, to my dread she jumped out of the car with an expression of sheer delight on her face and began to walk quickly into the house with the rest of us racing behind her.