Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Killing Kiss by Sam Stone
Reviewed by Jan Edwards
Yes, this book has been out for some time, hence the belated review.
Gabriele has been moving on for all of his very long death: he’s a vampire of the old school. And now he is setting up a new victim for his annual feasting, a forbidden feast – she is the girlfriend of his college pal. Then the pattern of his long existence of feed-and-move-on is disturbed when he is distracted by Lilly, a new beauty on the block. After a party where his drink is spiked, he feeds on his exotic class-mate, and no-one is more surprised than he when she rises again. He is further unsettled when Lucrezia, his maker, crosses his path.
The thing I like most about Gabriele is that he is 400 years old and that he is lean, mean and deadly to know. He does not see himself as evil but merely an amoral survivor doing what he has to do to carry on into the future. Yes, this is a vampire novel far closer to ancient legend than many we have seen in recent years. There is a romantic side to his life glimpsed through flashbacks to the various women he has loved and lusted after and fed upon in his long search for ‘soul mate’ with whom to share his eternity. The shifts back and fore in Gabriele’s past are skilfully tailored to reflect what is occurring in his present. He has much to regret, yet his only nod to that past is a trophy case full of lockets containing the hair of past ‘lovers’. But he is a vampire, one that is more than prepared to kill, and suck, on anyone who gets in his way.
The language is carefully crafted without any waste or prevarication. Every plot turn has a reason for being: sex and history and vampires acting as they ought. What more can you want from any gothic novel? This is the first in a trilogy. Book two, Futile Flame, is on the British Fantasy Awards short list for the August Derleth Award for Best Novel. Later this year, the third volume, Demon Dance, is published, also by Murky Depths.