The Vampire Stories of Nancy Kilpatrick
Published 2000 171 pages
Reviewed by Sandra
Summary (from the book jacket)
In this collection of stories by Nancy Kilpatrick, Canada's Queen of the Undead, we are exposed to the secret world of vampires. These stories reflect the dark side of humanity including our desires for passion, longevity, power, creativity and control.
Nancy Kilpatrick has been likened to Anne Rice and is an enormously popular and widely published writer, one of the leaders in the genre. She has been published previously by Pocket Books, Raven Books and Pumpkin Books in the U.S. and the U.K.
The Vampire Stories of Nancy Kilpatrick contains nineteen stories that involve vampires in all their popular guises. Vampires of today, and the past, the table of contents lists them in order of category; Theatrical Vampires, Erotic Bloodsuckers, Mythological & Historical Revenants, Bats With Bite, and The Unquiet Undead. Each story has its own unique style and every vampire is not the usual type; there are many who do not fit the description, these are not the stereotypical blood drinkers who lurk in darkness. These vampires of today use cunning places to hide, such as Goth night clubs where they become at home, and are able to live around the humans when they feel the need to feed; and they find some of the most alluring humans available. Other vampires live their daily lives in certain types of work.
In the categories, I have my favourites; Theatrical Vampires has Passion Play, Erotic Bloodsuckers, The Game and The Hungry Living Dead, Mythological & Historical Revenants, In Memory of and The Mountain Waits, Bats With Bite, The Shaft and Teasearama, while The Unquiet Undead brings us to the end with UV, Sustenance, I am No Longer and Root Cellar.
As I mentioned before, vampires in Nancy's works tend to live in darker areas of urban life, not content with living in abandoned churches and abbeys anymore. In this story, her first in this compilation Cheryl finds vampire Nightshade in his new natural habitat, in a bar where all around her appears to be normal – it isn't, far from it – but then again, neither is she, and she has come to find solace in a similar person to her, one who knew her former master, and one who might help her find out how to live since she is very different from Aleron; the man he used to know.
Cheryl has the awful realisation she is a new born vampire who has to adjust to a life she never knew, a life Nightshade might be able to show her if he takes an interest in her. The passion in this story is her sexual relationship with Nightshade. He acts as friend, helper a man who will show her what it is like to be a fully-fledged vampire. She has not yet fed from a living human, and feels daunted at the idea of it, yet she hungers for the taste of warm blood as after Aleron had died, leaving her to fend for herself. It is the story of a lonely vampire without a single clue as to how she can survive. The story is mostly about the relationship Aleron had shared with Nightshade and Cheryl, and the aftermath of his death.
This story has Lawrence and Fab, two gay men who are busy whiling away their hours in a restaurant as they devour the people around them, criticizing them for being normal. Lawrence finds how humanity has gone so sour, and samey, and plays The Game with Fab, a friend he has known for several years. He knows Fab will be a perfect player as he knows all the rules. Lawrence bemoans society and how the aesthetic has been replaced by more gimmicky things in the present day. There are reasons for his opinion, his criticism of the present, but that only becomes evident later. Lawrence is a dominant type and wants Fab to play by his rules only, but Fab has other ideas. Fab is highly demonstrative, outrageous and, comical. The story for the most part revolves around him and his luring of Fab into his game, and the consequences of his actions. Some humorous narrative about the gay scene and its most flamboyant members and outfits feature, but it has an underlying darkness with Lawrence who wants more cheap thrills with other willing victims and Fab, who accepts who he is even when his friend doesn't. This and the next story rank as my firm favourites in the book.
The Hungry Living Dead
A vampire story moves into more familiar territory with lone vampire, Rejean, a man who is out on the prowl for his night-time meal. His choice of venue, a Goth club, dark, dank and filled with smoke - a perfect place for him to blend in, dressed as he is in the type of clothes every other man wears; even if he looks special, and, just like a vampire. As he hopes, two are already interested in him. Jason and a girl he is with are taken in by his charming manner, and the fact he has told them he is one of the undead. The two of them are remnants of the darkness in society, but even they never expected to meet the real thing, a true life vampire. Rejean thinks it will be so easy to take what he wants from these two, but even a vampire can get it wrong.
In Memory Of...
For many writers creating a story that is a reworking of an existing story or novel is a popular one in recent months, yet Nancy has done this in her story about a certain writer well known by readers of vampire novels. The story concerns Constance Lloyd who meets young writer and socialite Oscar Wilde, conducting a relationship with him in 1875 before he was publicly outed, and later to become a gay icon in the modern day. It explores the emotional trials and tribulations of Constance's friendship with Oscar until another man comes into her life. Readers will find a nice twist to this story, and shows how good her writing really is. Nancy has used research of Wilde's poetry, life and novel A Picture of Dorian Gray.
The Mountain Waits
Renata wonders up a mountain on All Hallow's Eve in the cold chill air, waiting to see the things that can't be explained. There is something that lives in the dark place that drinks the blood of the people in the village below it, and Renata believes it must stop. The question is she strong enough to be the one to do it? In her parent’s view Renata is a loose-cannon. The story is mainly narrative telling of the mountain and the All Hallow's Eve tradition. There is a feeling that the writer is trying to explain that change must happen for a village like theirs to continue, and without the vampire in the mountain they will live on.
With many of Nancy's stories, elements of good humour creep in to provide entertainment. In this case, Celie, a vampire who lives in a shaft within an old house experiences all the sounds of the humans who live above her. She both loves and loathes them and their awful sense of timing when she wants to relax, yet she chose to be away from all humans, holed-up in a tiny part of a house where no one would bother her. Part of the story shows her thoughts of the humans and how she felt better keeping out of the way of them. What makes the story funnier is how they won't expect what happens to her next at the end.
Set in a different time, immortal Vlad Tepesh, vampire and lover at last wants to feel love for the first time. Not love when he knew of mild and passive, or overly dominant women, no. He desires a purer love, one without malice or hatred, but with passion and sensuality since these are emotions he has not experienced yet, and for this he sees beauty Betty Page who had graced many men's magazines and an old celluloid as his perfect woman. He decides to try and find her, tracing her steps through her photographer, Bunny Yeager at first. His trail takes him to people he never thought he would meet and an unexpected ending to his research.
In the past thirty years people have wanted to look their best, even better and have become slaves to perfection that to most is unavailable. Fashion, beauty, all have their place, and for Leila it is real enough. She doesn't see herself as the most attractive person around, and would like nothing more than to be thinner, more attractive to the opposite sex, and have men ask her out more often than not. Julie, her friend points out a spa called UV where they offer her a treatment that can stem the aging process, and make her appear beautiful. This is a great story with a defined twist that not many would think of doing, and it works very well right up until the end.
This is a story of one woman's struggle with being a captive in the dungeons while a vampire feeds on her every night. She keeps a journal she writes on toilet paper in order to keep her sane while she stares at the four walls. She realizes that someone else is in the cell next door as they try to get through, but who is this person, and to the point, is he or she friend or foe?
Nancy manages to show the fear, anticipation, and shock the character feels as it is told from her point of view. As there is only the bare minimum of characters, she makes the most of what it would feel like if someone were kept as a prisoner in a period of isolation for several months.
I am No Longer
A woman with the ability to see into the future, witnesses her own husband's death. She exists on her own, her time spent on a computer is all she has, but she has no contact with the outside world. After a car accident, she is not the woman she used to be, and after someone else visits her she becomes the cause of a new plague that could be unleashed on mankind.
It is easy to sense the desperation in this character, her sense of trying to retain her humanity, and her vulnerability toward other outside forces. The ending to it is a more reserved one for the reader who won't be expecting the outcome.
If anyone ever wondered what it felt like being a vampire for a long time, Root Cellar tells it from the point of view of Vadim, a man wrecked by his past, and his strange grandmother. Returning to her old house brings back memories while he finds objects to bring back to his sister. Vadim is a man who has nothing good to feel from his past, only awful memories he hoped would never come back into his mind. It is what is in the root cellar that will end his suffering, but it is up to him what he wants to do. The reader will be able to feel the inner turmoil and frustration Vadim has toward his own life with his awful grandmother and her cruel ways.
I've given this story collection 5 stars because there's something for every kind of vampire fan in it.
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