Sunday, March 15, 2015

Vampire Hunter D

Published in Japan in 1983 and in the U.S. in 2005, VAMPIRE HUNTER D, by Hideyuki Kikuchi, launched a long series of novels, of which over twenty have been translated into English so far. Kikuchi openly celebrates his inspiration for the series, the classic Hammer vampire movies, especially HORROR OF DRACULA. The villain of VAMPIRE HUNTER D is even named after Christopher Lee. The story takes place in the post-apocalyptic world of 12,090 A.D. In the past, the Nobility—vampires—ruled over the human population. Nobles enforced their authority with futuristic technology. Since the fall of the Nobility, humanity has lived amid the ruins of their civilization with the remnants of their fantastic machines and genetically engineered beasts. Vampires haven't gone completely extinct, though, and still inspire fear in less settled parts of the world. On the frontier, human communities struggle to survive in a monster-haunted wilderness.

In the setting of the first novel, a cross between the typical frontier town in a Western movie and the besieged village of a Gothic horror story, an orphaned young woman, Doris Lang, runs the family ranch with the help of her kid brother, Dan. No helpless damsel in distress, she wields a whip against monsters and stands up against the harassment of the mayor's son, who tries to use his wealth and status to take possession of her. She can't save herself, though, when the local Noble, Count Magnus Lee, bites her. It's only a matter of time before the vampire lord claims her as his bride. She turns to the archetypal wandering fighter, a young-looking Hunter known only as D. Hired to kill Count Lee for her, D establishes something of a bond with Doris and Dan, who idolizes the Hunter. D infiltrates the Count's castle, where he confronts a monstrous version of Dracula's brides, three vampire women fused into a hydra-like creature with three heads on one body. He also meets Larmica, the Count's daughter, a more ambiguous, even potentially sympathetic incarnation of vampirism. D himself is a dhampir, a vampire-human hybrid. Throughout the series it's hinted that his father was the "Sacred Ancestor"—in other words, D possesses supernatural gifts, even beyond the typical dhampir, because he was begotten by Dracula. D has another unique feature, a symbiotic or parasitic organism manifesting as a face in the palm of his left hand. This creature, whose nature and origin are never explained (not in the translated volumes of the series so far, at least), displays extraordinary powers that augment D's invincibility. The left hand (which can detach itself and act independently if necessary) doesn't seem to think much of D; it constantly argues with the Hunter in a grumpy, cynical tone.

This book reads as a cross-genre mix of horror story, Western adventure, and post-apocalyptic science fiction, with an element of romance. Doris quickly becomes infatuated with D, who seems genuinely drawn to her. He also appears to care for young Dan. Yet at the conclusion of the story, as we'd expect of a wandering fighter in a Western, he rides off into the wilderness alone on his cybernetic horse. One reviewer describes D as a tragic figure of "a man dedicated to fighting darkness but unable to express love." It's hard to judge the accuracy of this characterization, because the omniscient narrator never gives us much access to D's thoughts. Throughout the series, we're constantly told how "gorgeous" the Hunter is and how everyone finds him fascinating on sight, but we don't know how he feels about this reaction. He remains an enigma. Two animated films based on this series have been released, VAMPIRE HUNTER D and VAMPIRE HUNTER D: BLOODLUST. While both are worth viewing, I like the art of the second movie better than the first.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Blood Will Tell

In BLOOD WILL TELL (2001), Jean Lorrah, best known for the Sime-Gen series in collaboration with Jacqueline Lichtenberg, creates a balanced blend of police procedural, romance, and innovative science fiction that displaces vampires from their position on the top of the food chain. The protagonist, small-town police detective Brandy Mather, engages the reader from the moment she's introduced in the opening paragraph. Brandy's entanglement in weirdness begins with the discovery of the body of an incredibly old man at the local college, dead from unknown causes, wearing the clothes and identification of a much younger college professor. In between investigating this mystery and keeping up with the routine crimes of a small Kentucky community, Brandy copes with her widowed mother, clashes with a corrupt judge, and falls in love with college computer specialist Dan Martin, whose past holds its own secrets. Given the advance knowledge that BLOOD WILL TELL is a vampire novel, we might expect that the dead man was killed by a vampire. Instead, it appears that he was one himself. The charming, intelligent Dan turns out to be a type of vampire different from any you may have encountered. He claims to belong to a naturally evolved species, but could there be more to his race than even he knows?

The unfolding plot confounds the reader's expectations at every turn, yet always logically and satisfyingly. Everything we thought we knew about vampires comes into question, with an ingenious explanation for the wide variety of different vampire traits found in folklore traditions. Dan has hypnotic powers, extreme longevity, rapid healing, and preternatural strength. He's stronger by night but can function in the daytime. Blood serves as a "supplement" rather than food for him; he needs it to live but requires only a small amount per month. The murder mystery's solution, the villain's nature and purpose, and Brandy and Dan's ultimate fate work out in a way few readers will anticipate.

As a woman detective, Brandy displays strength, intelligence, and resourcefulness that remind me of Clarice Starling in THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. Though Dan initially appears to be the perfect lover, too good to be true, he, too, is a three-dimensional, sympathetic character with credible flaws. Their relationship grows into a solid vampire romance with all the contemporary vampire's erotic allure but without larger-than-life emotional extravagance. Sharing blood grants them a powerful empathic bond, yet they still have to negotiate mundane adjustments of schedules and daily habits such as every new couple faces. I especially like the novel's view behind the scenes of a small-town police department. (Lorrah draws on the setting of the college town in Kentucky where she herself taught for many years.) Serving a small community with a limited staff, Brandy's department has to assign her to a variety of tasks, quite different from the specialization portrayed on TV cop shows. I thoroughly enjoyed the results of Jean Lorrah's meticulous research. Even the most bizarre forensic element in the story is, as she notes in an afterword, based on fact. Did you know elderly people can lose their fingerprints? I didn't. BLOOD WILL TELL deserves comparison with the vampire detective fiction of Tanya Huff, Lee Killough, and P. N. Elrod.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Rivals of Dracula

From the title of Michel Parry's anthology THE RIVALS OF DRACULA (1977), one would expect a compilation of stories that preceded or were roughly contemporary with Stoker's DRACULA. Instead, many of the dozen stories in this book come from the twentieth-century pulp fiction era or later. Still, it's well worth reading (Amazon has plenty of used copies). The only standard anthology piece is M. R. James's "Count Magnus"; most of the other tales may be unfamiliar to the average reader. "The Mysterious Stranger" (1860), an anonymous story set in a Carpathian castle, includes all the elements of a classic Gothic horror thriller, and its vampire may have influenced Stoker's portrayal of Count Dracula. The other pre-twentieth-century piece, "The Story of Baelbrow" (1898), by E. and H. Heron, features an occult detective who exposes a vampire lurking in a reputedly haunted house.

Stories from the golden age of the pulps, all but one first published in WEIRD TALES, include: "The Guardian of the Cemetery," by Jean Ray; "The Vampire of Kaldenstein," by Frederick Cowles; "The Horror Undying," by Manly Wade Wellman; "The Bat Is My Brother," by Robert Bloch; and "The Undead Die" by E. Everett Evans. Evans's story is unusual for its time in taking a sympathetic view of its vampire protagonists, a husband and wife transformed against their will, who avoid feeding on human victims and want only freedom from their undead curse.

From the period closer to the anthology's publication date, Parry includes stories by Ramsey Campbell, David A. Drake, Steven Utley, and Charles Beaumont. All these are quite horrific except for Beaumont's "Blood Brother," a humorous short piece first published in PLAYBOY, in which a recently converted vampire complains of his plight to a psychiatrist. (Among other problems, sleeping on dirt in a coffin makes a mess of his clothes, and he had to buy a cemetery plot to get his "native earth" from.)

The stories appear in no particular order; I would have arranged them chronologically. The book includes a short checklist of apparently randomly chosen "Further Rivals of Dracula," again not listed in any comprehensible order (neither chronologically nor alphabetically). The ten-page filmography, "Vampires of the Silver Screen," alphabetical by title, covers much more ground and includes brief annotations.

If you're a fan of vintage vampire fiction, you may want to pick up a copy of this anthology.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Sunday, January 4, 2015

AHS Freak Show, back on Jan. 7th!

 If you are not caught up, then this article contains SPOILERS!!

So, I am finally caught up on all of my Freak Show episodes, and there for a while they were losing me a bit. This season is all over the place. Is it just me? It seems like a real scatterbrained jumble of plot-lines and stories that go nowhere. I mean, we had the regenerating guy that Dandy killed...I thought that would go somewhere, but not so far. Weird. Then we have Paul and his now tattooed lady, and I guess they are just somewhere doing whatever a human seal and a tattooed lady do when they're in love. Regina Ross shows up to confront Dandy, and I'm thinking ok, now this will get interesting with her, and...boom she just dies. Ooooohkay then.

But I do love how Dandy has gone full psycho. Killing his mother and the Avon lady and sewing them together to make his own Bette and Dot doll...deciding that he's God...bathing in blood. He's despicably delightful.

And finally, in the latest episode, they really reeled me back in. In Orphans, we finally saw Pepper's back story- which was suitably tragic- and we see how she ends up at the Asylum from Season 2. We are treated to a cameo with Lily Rabe, reprising her role as Sister Mary Eunice. Which was awesome. And then Maggie Esmerelda finally decides she's had enough with Stanley, and she exposes their murderous secret to Desiree, in an effort to enlist her help in ridding the freak show of the man who would put them all in jars of formaldehyde.

The downside of the newest episode is the idea that Stanley chopped off Jimmy's hands in prison. Like, sure, they just let him saw off a prisoner's hands, while I'm sure he was screaming in agony, and then walk out with the bloody appendages dripping through the halls. Totally plausible. 

But the preview for the next episode was intriguing. Neil Patrick Harris will be making an appearance! And his character is a magician and ventriloquist (I presume, since there's a creep-tastic doll with him.) Ok. I adore NPH, and I think that ventriloquist dolls are some of the scariest things on the planet, so this seems like a win-win.

Ok, Freak Show, you lovable little ball of insanity, what have you got in store for us now? I guess I'll keep watching because I just can't seem to look away. Besides, there are only a few episodes left, so you know the action is going to ramp up here. So check out the trailer for the next episode- Magical Thinking:

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Into the Woods

The Christmas insanity is over for now, and so I finally got to do something just for me-and that was go see Into the Woods. This musical holds a special place in my heart. I was a huge drama geek in high school, and this was the first musical I ever performed in. (I was the Wicked Stepmother.) So, I know all the words to the songs by heart and I have strong opinions on whether or not anyone could ever be better than Bernadette Peters as the witch. I went in hoping to be pleased but a tiny bit worried that it might disappoint.

If you are wholly unfamiliar with the show, let me briefly explain what it is about and why the story is so fascinating. 

Into the Woods follows the fairytale characters we have known all of our lives- Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Jack and his beanstalk, Rapunzel, and a baker and his wife who have been cursed by an evil witch because of the misdeeds of the baker's father.

All of the characters have complicated or downright horrible relationships with their parents or guardians. They all have wishes for their future- to escape the sorrow they currently live in and find happiness. And each of them begins their quest for that happiness in the same way that we expect them to- the way their fairytales tell us that it lies. Cinderella is supposed to live happily ever after with her prince. The baker and his wife lift the curse and break the spell- allowing them to finally have a child. Red Riding Hood learns to protect herself and not trust strangers, and Jack proves his worth to his critical mother by conquering a giant and bringing riches to his family. Rapunzel also meets her true love and believes that love is all she will need.

And then? Well...that's the problem with fairytales. They all seem to end there. But what happens when that is your life? Often princes are just charming and not loyal or caring husbands. And pestering giants may make you feel pretty invincible but it's awfully risky behavior. Likewise, walling yourself off from others as Red does, leaves you without a way to connect with someone when you find yourself alone. And fatherhood may trigger all of your fears that you might repeat the mistakes of your own parents. In fact, all of the characters are trying to come to terms with their childhoods and find a path to true happiness, but like many of us, they typically just try to get the opposite of what they had before, only to find that its just as bad as what they left.

So, the musical is wonderfully complex and deep. And I was completely smitten all over again. Anna Kendrick has an amazing voice, and Emily Blunt was wonderful as the Baker's wife. And no, I don't think Meryl Streep is better than Bernadette Peters, but it wasn't so changed that I didn't enjoy it. The difference in their performances is that Streep's character comes off as a bit more sympathetic somehow...less willfully malicious.

I am disappointed that we lost the song No More, and that we lost the reprise of Agony. (Especially when Chris Pine was SO perfect as Prince Charming- why get rid of a second of all of that smarmy goodness?) And they changed the fate of Rapunzel by simply omitting the fact of her death- which I find to be a toss-up. On the one hand, that part always tore me up- she was the most tormented by her mother and then she suffered the worst fate. So unfair! But it also showed just how badly you can hurt your children if you don't learn these lessons. It was harsh but also very fitting for the story.

But, overall, the omissions aside, I still loved this. And the core moral of the story is there and accessible to the viewer. I teared up when they sang No One Is Alone.

Would I prefer the stage show to the movie? Sure. I probably always will. But this is still a treat for fans of the musical and it opens the story and the valuable lessons inside to more people in this format. So it gets a big thumbs-up from me.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Contest winner announced!

Sorry for the delay is posting a winner, but I was actually on vacation to one of the rare places that still has spotty internet, so without further ado the winner is...

Kate, who commented:

The way I discovered the amazing author Anne Rice is by my sister. She has all of the books by this author. I became a fan when I read "The Interview with the Vampire". The good thing about Anne Rice's novels are you can read them over and over again and never get sick of reading them. :-)

I'll be sending an email requesting your mailing information and you have 1 week to respond before another winner will be chosen. Thanks and HAppy reading! ~Anna

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Book Releases From Now Through January!

If you are getting any gift cards for book stores for Christmas, here are some VampChix-worthy new releases that you might want to spend that cash on!

This Shattered World, by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Release Date: December 23rd, 2014

Book Description:

"Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.
Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet's rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.
Rebellion is in Flynn's blood. His sister died in the original uprising against the powerful corporate conglomerate that rules Avon with an iron fist. These corporations make their fortune by terraforming uninhabitable planets across the universe and recruiting colonists to make the planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.
Desperate for any advantage against the military occupying his home, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape base together, caught between two sides in a senseless war.
The stunning second novel in the Starbound trilogy is an unforgettable story of love and forgiveness in a world torn apart by war."

Golden Son, by Pierce Brown
Release Date: January 6th, 2015
Book Description:
"With shades of The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game, and Game of Thrones, debut author Pierce Brown’s genre-defying epic Red Rising hit the ground running and wasted no time becoming a sensation. Golden Son continues the stunning saga of Darrow, a rebel forged by tragedy, battling to lead his oppressed people to freedom.
 As a Red, Darrow grew up working the mines deep beneath the surface of Mars, enduring backbreaking labor while dreaming of the better future he was building for his descendants. But the Society he faithfully served was built on lies. Darrow’s kind have been betrayed and denied by their elitist masters, the Golds—and their only path to liberation is revolution. And so Darrow sacrifices himself in the name of the greater good for which Eo, his true love and inspiration, laid down her own life. He becomes a Gold, infiltrating their privileged realm so that he can destroy it from within.
  A lamb among wolves in a cruel world, Darrow finds friendship, respect, and even love—but also the wrath of powerful rivals. To wage and win the war that will change humankind’s destiny, Darrow must confront the treachery arrayed against him, overcome his all-too-human desire for retribution—and strive not for violent revolt but a hopeful rebirth. Though the road ahead is fraught with danger and deceit, Darrow must choose to follow Eo’s principles of love and justice to free his people.
 He must live for more."

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust, by Alan Bradley
Release Date: January 6th, 2015
Book Description:
"Flavia de Luce—“part Harriet the Spy, part Violet Baudelaire from Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” (The New York Times Book Review)—takes her remarkable sleuthing prowess to the unexpectedly unsavory world of Canadian boarding schools in the captivating new mystery from New York Times bestselling author Alan Bradley.
Banished! is how twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce laments her predicament, when her father and Aunt Felicity ship her off to Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy, the boarding school that her mother, Harriet, once attended across the sea in Canada. The sun has not yet risen on Flavia’s first day in captivity when a gift lands at her feet. Flavia being Flavia, a budding chemist and sleuth, that gift is a charred and mummified body, which tumbles out of a bedroom chimney. Now, while attending classes, making friends (and enemies), and assessing the school’s stern headmistress and faculty (one of whom is an acquitted murderess), Flavia is on the hunt for the victim’s identity and time of death, as well as suspects, motives, and means. Rumors swirl that Miss Bodycote’s is haunted, and that several girls have disappeared without a trace. When it comes to solving multiple mysteries, Flavia is up to the task—but her true destiny has yet to be revealed."

Saint Odd, by Dean Koontz
Release Date: January 13th, 2015
Book Description:
"The end is nigh! Prepare for the highly anticipated finale of the Odd Thomas series—starring “one of the most remarkable and appealing characters in current fiction” (The Virginian-Pilot)—from #1 New York Times bestselling Dean Koontz, “one of the master storytellers of this or any age” (The Tampa Tribune).
Odd Thomas is back where it all started . . . because the time has come to finish it. Since he left his simple life in the small town of Pico Mundo, California, his journey has taken him to places strange and wonderful, mysterious and terrifying. Across the land, in the company of mortals and spirits alike, he has known kindness and cruelty, felt love and loss, saved lives and taken them—as he’s borne witness to humanity’s greatest good and darkest evil. Again and again, he has gone where he must and done what he had to do—for better or worse—with his courage and devotion sorely tested, and his soul forever changed. Every triumph has been hard won. Each sacrifice has taken its toll.
 Now, whatever destiny drives him has finally steered his steps home, where those he cares for most surround him, the memory of his tragically lost true love haunts him, and one last challenge—vast and dreadful—awaits him. For Odd Thomas, born to serve a purpose far greater than himself, the wandering is done. Only the reckoning remains."

The Darkest Part of the Forest, by Holly Black
Release Date: January 13th, 2015
Book Description:
"Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they're destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she's found the thing she's been made for. Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries' seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.
At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointy as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.
Until one day, he does...
As the world turns upside down and a hero is needed to save them all, Hazel tries to remember her years spent pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?"

The Ruby Circle, by Richelle Mead
Release Date: January 13th, 2015
Book Description:
"Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.
In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists.
Now in the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney and Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive. 
For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him. . . .
Their worst fears now a chilling reality, Sydney and Adrian face their darkest hour in this heart-pounding fifth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where all bets are off."

Burned, by Karen Marie Moning
Release Date: January 20th, 2015
Book Description:
"It’s easy to walk away from lies. Power is another thing.
MacKayla Lane would do anything to save the home she loves. A gifted sidhe-seer, she’s already fought and defeated the deadly Sinsar Dubh—an ancient book of terrible evil—yet its hold on her has never been stronger.
When the wall that protected humans from the seductive, insatiable Fae was destroyed on Halloween, long-imprisoned immortals ravaged the planet. Now Dublin is a war zone with factions battling for control. As the city heats up and the ice left by the Hoar Frost King melts, tempers flare, passions run red-hot, and dangerous lines get crossed. Seelie and Unseelie vie for power against nine ancient immortals who have governed Dublin for millennia; a rival band of sidhe-seers invades the city, determined to claim it for their own; Mac’s former protégé and best friend, Dani “Mega” O’Malley, is now her fierce enemy; and even more urgent, Highland druid Christian MacKeltar has been captured by the Crimson Hag and is being driven deeper into Unseelie madness with each passing day. The only one Mac can depend on is the powerful, dangerous immortal Jericho Barrons, but even their fiery bond is tested by betrayal.
It’s a world where staying alive is a constant struggle, the line between good and evil gets blurred, and every alliance comes at a price. In an epic battle against dark forces, Mac must decide who she can trust, and what her survival is ultimately worth."
Viper Game, by Christine Feehan
Release Date: January 27th, 2015
Book Description:
"Hailed as "the queen of paranormal romance" by J.R. Ward, #1 New York Times bestselling author “Christine Feehan continues to amaze readers” (The Eternal Night) with her phenomenal novels. Now, from the author of the Dark Carpathian series, comes the newest in Christine Feehan's explosive GhostWalker series…
GhostWalker Wyatt Fontenot knows the price he paid for the secret military experiments that gave him his special catlike abilities. After all, he left his bayou home a healer and came back a killer. While Wyatt and his GhostWalker brother Gator may have known exactly the sort of game they were getting into, Wyatt never anticipated where it would lead—or to whom.
The swamps hold many mysteries, but few are as sinuously seductive as Le Poivre de Cayenne. The woman the locals call Pepper is every bit as enigmatic as the three little girls she’s desperately trying to protect. From what, Wyatt is soon to discover. Right now Pepper needs a man like Wyatt. Passionately. But her secrets are about to take them both deeper into the bayou than either imagined—where desire is the deadliest poison of all.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Children of the Night (Dan Simmons)

Dan Simmons' CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT (1992), not to be confused with Mercedes Lackey's very different novel with the same title, uses a genetic mutation model of vampirism. Simmons' story, a blend of thriller, science fiction, and horror, begins in Romania during the chaos following the downfall of the Ceausescu regime. The book's portrayal of this era and location is vividly convincing. An American doctor, Kate Neuman, adopts Joshua, an orphaned infant suffering from a bizarre blood disease. At home in the United States, she discovers the unique powers of regeneration that accompany his damaged immune system. The phenomenal healing capacity of Joshua's blood, however, depends on constant nourishment by the blood of others. Although Kate supplies this need through transfusion, most sufferers from this syndrome drain blood directly from human victims. Agents of Joshua's extended family kidnap him and return him to Romania. With the help of a heroic priest, Kate undertakes a quest to rescue the baby, not only for his own sake, but also for his blood, which holds the promise of a cure for AIDS and many other lethal maladies. A "cellular or physiological mutation in that family" gives their bodies the power to "cannibalize genetic material from donor blood so that their own immunodeficiency was overcome." A "blood-rich shadow organ" in the alimentary canal enables Joshua's kin to gain nourishment from drinking blood. Their bloodline has been perpetuated through the centuries, a dynasty that includes Vlad the Impaler, so CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT offers a fresh variation on the "Vlad was Dracula" trope.

Because the principal representative of the vampire clan in this novel is a seven-month-old baby, the condition does not brand its carriers as "evil." Set against the horrors of the Ceausescu era, graphically depicted in the filthy, overcrowded orphanages of Romania, the need to consume human blood appears less terrible. The narrative illustrates the "banality of evil" with the statement that "Dracula would be a story. The plight of hundreds of thousands of victims of political madness, bureaucracy, stupidity" is merely an "inconvenience." Even Vlad Tepes, patriarch of the "Family of Night," the late dictator's "Dark Advisor," doesn't seem utterly villainous, since we see him mainly as a sick, tired old man. Despite Joshua's destiny as the prince of the dark bloodline, as an innocent child he invites sympathy rather than horror.

Kate explores the possibility of a cure and offers Vlad an escape from his clan's centuries-old existence of secrecy and predation. The hemoglobin substitute she creates could mean the carriers of the mutation may not have to behave like monsters. Perhaps, through baby Joshua, an ancient evil can be converted to beneficial purposes. Even the notoriously terrible Vlad accepts the possibility of salvation for his people. Simmons crafts a tale of horror and suspense featuring ruthless, bloodthirsty vampires who surprisingly turn out to be more complex than the reader would have expected.

I discuss this book and many other novels and stories, including Simmons' gruesome and very unusual vampire novella "Dying in Bangkok," in my DIFFERENT BLOOD: THE VAMPIRE AS ALIEN:

Different Blood

Margaret L. Carter

Explore love among the monsters at Carter's Crypt.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Nina Mason's Duke in Devil's Clothing

I should have had this posted over the weekend, but plague and illness struck, making the computer the very last thing on the planet that I wanted to deal with. So here it is, the cover and blurb for Devil in Duke's Clothing:

Devil in Duke's Clothing is a highly erotic historical romance set in Scotland during the Restoration Period (1680). The book features voyeurism, bondage, flagellation, and a voyeur menage. It will be released in mid-January (I'm aiming for Saturday the 17th) and will be the first in a trilogy titled Royal Pains, which will feature the Duke and Duchess of Dunwoody.

Here's the blurb:Maggie York, a convent-raised foundling, knows the Duke of Dunwoody’s sexual tastes are a shade or two darker than normal, but marries him anyway—partly because she has no other prospects and partly because, try as she might, she can’t seem to exorcize her desire for the dashing devil. Five years ago, he lured her from the garden of innocence into the orchard of forbidden fruit and she's been hungry for more ever since.
Robert Armstrong, the duke, is a Roman Catholic whose extreme devotions as a child warped his desires as a man. He’s also a slave to the times in which he lives--and to his king. Everything he is, everything he holds dear, depends on staying in Charles II’s good graces. Unfortunately, Maggie isn't the bride the king selected for him. Now, to make amends, the duke must choose between the lesser of two evils: whore his wife or be reduced to a penniless commoner.
Whose interests will Robert choose to serve, his own, the king’s, or the woman he loves?

Here's the tagline: Forbidden fruit is always the most delicious...

And here's the link to the trailer on ages 18+ YouTube:

Nina Mason's other books and where to find them:
The Queen of Swords (
The Tin Man (coming August 30, 2014 from CHBB)
The Knights of Avalon, a four-part erotic PNR/UF series (under contract with Lyrical/Kensington)
Watch my book trailers on YouTube!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

12 Days of Christmas- VampChix Style

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

True Blood on DVD!

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

A pair of TARDIS earrings.

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

Harley Quinn pajamas from ThinkGeek.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

A beautiful bat filigree necklace.
I have a couple of pieces from Fable and Fury- love them!

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

A wicked ring from Art Masters Jewelery!
Wow! These are all awesome, but expensive! If you get one of these someone really loves you. ;)

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

A box set of paranormal romance.
This one is Larissa Ione's Demonica series, but there are others we would gratefully accept as well. ;)

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

 A Walking Dead, Daryl tank shirt.

Lots of other cool things at Her Universe too.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

Hand-painted Converse shoes.
Oh my gosh- there's so many cool styles on Etsy. Everything from Doctor Who to Marvel and DC comics, to Star Wars to Studio Ghibli...

 On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

A beautiful edition of Bram Stoker's Dracula.

 On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

Art prints from Qmx.
Yes. I'll take the men of Firefly set, please.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

A Guardians of the Galaxy shirt from TeeFury.
Check out Bamboota's other stuff while you're there. She's one of my favorite artists.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

A shirtless Sam and Dean!

Oh wait, Santa won't bring the real ones? Damn.

Ok. Maybe these cute friendship bracelets, instead-

Merry Christmas, VampChix!

What's on YOUR list?