Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Blood Bank

BLOOD BANK (2008), by Tanya Huff, isn’t exactly an old publication. Most of the stories in this collection, however, are over ten years old, about half of them dating from the 1990s. Spinning off from Huff’s “Blood” books, which star private detective Vicki Nelson and centuries-old vampire (bastard son of Henry VIII—and romance novel writer) Henry Fitzroy, all but two of these stories take place after Vicki’s transformation into a vampire. The exceptions narrate episodes from Henry’s earlier life. In the lighthearted “What Manner of Man,” Henry exposes a French spy during the Regency period. Huff sprinkles this tale with in-jokes for horror fans, naming most of the secondary characters after literary vampires, a device I found a bit off-putting the first time I read the story, since I expected the names to be meaningful instead of mere throwaway allusions. The much more somber “Sceleratus,” framed by a conversation between Henry and his young mortal friend Tony, flashes back to seventeenth-century Venice, when a woman Henry loved was executed by the Inquisition because of him. This piece spotlights a facet of his character that makes him a rarity among vampires—he’s a devout Catholic. A present-day story of a lonely Henry after Vicki’s transformation, “Someone to Share the Night,” reveals the complications that arise when he places a personal ad in search of companionship.

The rest of the stories feature Vicki and her police detective lover, Mike Celluci, solving mysteries that focus on, respectively, an older (evil) vampire, a Gypsy card reader, a lake monster, giant bloodsucking bugs in the Toronto subway, and a “locked room” inexplicable death of a writer. The very funny “So This Is Christmas,” original to this collection, parodies “A Christmas Carol” with Vicki as the Scrooge figure and various people in her life playing the roles of the spirits. As a special treat, the volume concludes with the script for “Stone Cold,” the one episode Huff wrote for BLOOD TIES, the TV series based on the “Blood” novels. The author introduces the script with an essay about the process of writing and filming the episode. If you’re a fan of Huff’s vampire series, you’ll want to own this book.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

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