The Vampire Tapestry
Suzy McKee Charnas
First published 1980 (this edition 2008) 285 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
Decades after its initial publication The Vampire Tapestry remains one of the most important, provocative, and beloved books in the genre, a considerable evolution from your average vampire novel. And Dr. Edward Weyland is nothing like your average vampire: not only is he a respected anthropology professor, but his bloodlust stems from a biological – rather than supernatural – source.
The only member of a species of one, he has learned to form an uneasy empathy with his prey in order to survive, secretly thieving blood from his victims rather than murdering them outright. But even age-honed discretion can fail in the face of desperation.
Dr Weyland is unlike any “monster” you’ve ever encountered, and his Tapestry is unlike any story you’ve ever read. You will never think of vampires the same way again.
Now reprinted (by Orb) for the fourth time since its original 1980 release, The Vampire Tapestry by Suzy McKee Charnas shows that it has the stuff that vampire literature’s modern classics are made from as it explores the relationship between a predatory vampire and it’s prey.
Forget all of the other vampire tales you have read. Definitely put the vampires of today’s popular paranormal romance and urban fantasy genres out of your mind. Dr Weyland is unlike any of the traditional vampires of myth.
Rather than a supernatural, magical or undead being Dr Weyland is a living being of a separate species. He doesn’t know his own origin, whether he is a genetic mutation of man, a separate species, or even an alien - he has never met another of his kind and his living existence is focused solely on his own survival. He knows that he has lived for many lifetimes but the details of each life are lost as he sleeps for a generation between lifetimes. Upon awakening after years of hibernation he must learn all that he missed while sleeping, in order to adapt and fit in to the new time period. As modern life races ahead with a frantic pace this becomes an increasingly difficult proposition…
His existence is a lonely one. He is forever alienated, a willing outcast standing aloof at the edges of the social herd. His own survival is his overriding instinct and he can afford no feeling towards his prey other than the necessary empathy required to blend in with them. The Vampire Tapestry is the story of what happens when his existence is revealed to others. Their actions and reactions will leave readers wondering who is really the predator and who is really the prey in this story.
The Vampire Tapestry is a complex tale simply told over the course of five novellas that run chronologically and form a full length novel when read together. While all the novellas are written in third person, the first three are all written from the perspectives of three very different people who cross paths with Dr Edward Weyland and recognise him for the vampire that he is. Each of the novellas has a different feel since the different characters all have widely differing relationships with Dr Weyland – and each novella reveals more of Dr Weyland’s character as he slowly gives up more of himself to the humans that surround him.
The fourth novella “A Musical Interlude” is written from multiple character perspectives (including the vampire’s) and tells of a night at the opera where the music stirs up the vampire’s long forgotten memories with tragic results. The final tale is told solely from Dr Weyland’s perspective as he realises the consequences of living too closely with his prey and the effects that this has on his very existence.
The Vampire Tapestry is a multi-faceted story that works well on a number of levels. When taken at it’s most basic level, that of a vampire horror tale, it makes for an engrossing read - even though it has none of the fantasy thrills that are usually prevalent in this genre. The re-release of this intelligent and thought provoking novel should gain it a whole new generation of fans.
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You can read an excerpt and find out more about this book, and the other works of this author, at the author’s website. Visit Suzy’s website.