vampires

Little Rabbit

Little Rabbit
Published: May 19, 2016
Absinthe and drugs at a vampire wake. Tensions are running high at the Winslow house party, and as the past is dragged out into the night, accusations begin to draw venom. The vampire marshals are already in town. Drawn by the scent of suspicious deaths and asking uncomfortable questions. Which means Eloise Winslow has to walk a dangerous line. One where she works to act like everything is normal while she covers up the brutal murder she has just committed.

4 Stars

This is an intriguing story, with a strong plot and compelling characters. It revolves around Eloise Winslow, a vampire who has lived in America since colonial times when she, her sisters and their friend Crow were ‘turned’ on Dark Day. Imprisoned in a silver mine for murdering her sister, Tabitha, Eloise is given a chance for early release if she will provide the details of the crime, and agree to work with the Vampire Marshals.

Little Rabbit by Barb Ettridge is a slightly different take on the vampire story. Part fantasy-thriller, part mystery, and part romance, it shows the ‘human’ side of vampires—human weaknesses in a near-immortal shell.

The way the story starts with Crow, a Vampire Marshal, offering Eloise release more than seventy years before completion of her sentence, if only she’ll provide details surrounding her murder of Tabitha, her older sister—also a vampire. In addition, she must agree to work with the marshals after her release. This forces Eloise to come to grips with things in her past she would rather forget—if only she could.

The first chapter shows Eloise’s reluctance to dig up the pain of the past, but she chafes about being held by the power of the silver in the mine to sap her strength. The narrative then transitions immediately to the events leading up to her sister’s demise, and this is where the real strength of the story lies. The author does a fantastic job of letting the speech and actions of characters show us their motivations. By the middle section of the book, the reader feels—at least this reader did—an intimate association with Eloise, and in-depth understanding of the characters who revolve around her.

Told entirely from Eloise’s point of view, the suspense is electric as Crow comes closer to solving Tabitha’s murder. Crow’s love for Eloise is also clear, as is her affection for him, leaving the reader to wonder until very near the end if Crow will be able to fulfil his duty. Even though the opening chapter makes it clear that Eloise was caught and punished, we do not know the agency of that punishment until near the end.

The setting was probably the weakest part of the story. We know where we are, a small town in New England, not far from Boston. But, other than knowing the approximate date when Eloise and the others were ‘turned’ to vampires, we can’t be sure when the events in the story take place. There are some popular culture references that hint at late twentieth century, but it’s never made clear. The geographical setting, descriptions of the town and its environs, is great, and adds to the dark tone of the story.

A great job of showing rather than telling. The British (or Australian) spellings and grammar stick out, especially as the story is set in America, which wouldn’t be an issue if it had been set in colonial times, when one can assume that colonial Americans still retained English forms, but it was a bit unsettling at the outset. The story is so compelling, though, that by the one-third mark, I no longer paid spelling or unique non-US constructions much mind.

I give this book a solid four stars.

 

Destiny

Destiny
Author:
Published: October 4, 2014
Author's Twitter: @SMSpencerAuthor
Set in Australia this YA paranormal romance is the story of Lili who, while looking for her destiny, finds herself in a world filled with vampires and ghosts. Destiny: ‘The predetermined or inevitable path a person must follow.’ When nineteen year-old Lili McIntyre decides to trade her California summer for a mid-winter visit to Australia, it’s in hope of finding inspiration and direction in the country where her father was born. But when she arrives in Melbourne, the first thing she finds is the last thing she’s looking for—a brooding man who makes her heart race every time she sees him. Against her better judgement, Lili finds herself drawn into a relationship that tests her very beliefs about life, reality and fantasy. But the real test is how to follow her destiny as she faces some of the hardest decisions of her life.

Reviewed 

4 Stars

Lili McIntyre just ended a difficult relationship and is now on a much-needed summer vacation to Melbourne, Australia for a few months. Her aunt Debs welcomes her Down Under and provides her with a chance to clear her head. On the plane, Lili meets Claire, and that new friendship introduces her to more than she dreamed of. Though Claire doesn’t know it, her new boyfriend, Tom, has an enormous secret. The oblivious Claire introduces Lili to Sam, Tom’s close friend. As a natural double-date, Sam and Lili find themselves thrown together and soon discover a growing attraction.

Soon, Lili discovers why Sam and Tom behave so strangely. They are vampires! Suddenly a world of the supernatural opens up to Lili and her heart will lead her to help Sam keep his secret identity and defend the city from conflicts begun in ages past.

Destiny is an enjoyable book with a fun take on the vampire genre, full of characters created with affection and care. Lili’s struggle to determine her future and the pressures from home struck a chord with me. She feels the urgency to decide her future and move forward, although the hugeness of the decision overwhelms her.

The American/Australian crossover made me wonder through the tale about the author’s origins, but I think I know. Some telling word choice clued me in. I loved hearing about life in Melbourne and all the interesting trips the characters took nearby. Though some of Melbourne’s history appears in the book, I would have like to learn more.

I appreciated the potential for the tale to discuss the subject of abuse. I think that young women, especially, need reinforcement that abuse is real, encouragement that they don’t have to endure it, and illustrations of what it really looks like. Plenty of speakers and nonfiction writers share about abuse, but tales of people enduring and overcoming it reach us in a different, sometimes more personal way.

Lili wonders through the tale why she isn’t scared that Sam is a vampire. I know why: it’s because none of the vampires in this book are the slightest bit scary. Romance and good looks trump blood-drinking. Any slip of the teeth is slight and polite to the extent that Claire never once discovers their identity. Even the scenes that should be thrilling and terrifying lose their teeth because of the detached and passive way the author describes them. My take is that the trouble lies in the author’s unwillingness to make the characters suffer. She loves them too much. Any problem is short and quickly resolved without the pain that blood-drinking romantic interests should pose.

Aside from the pressured calm of the tale, I enjoyed the book and look forward to the second book in the trilogy to find the answers to the problems that Lili hasn’t solved yet. Four stars.

Pro Luce Habere

Pro Luce Habere
Author:
Publisher:
Published: November 23, 2011
Author's Twitter: @KrisiKeley
What if the legend isn’t simply a cautionary tale of good and evil, a warning about trading one’s soul for eternal life? What if, instead, it’s a misinterpretation of the unimaginable – something true that has only always overlooked the fundamental truth? In 1212 Provence, a boy filled with hope sets out on a pilgrimage to discover the mysteries of his faith, only to find himself become part of a dark and even more mysterious myth, born millennia ago. Forced to kill so he might live, but cherishing the lives he knows intimately in death, he is both shaped and haunted by the battle between light and darkness, within his victims and within himself. Amidst the inquisitions of the Middle Ages, two history-changing revolutions, world war and the paradoxes of modernity, an immortal being struggles to determine who really is the monster, as he journeys through time toward solving the mystery behind a legend as old as mankind. Look beyond fiction and folklore and believe again. Volumes I & II combined in one book. As a prequel, Book II: Pro Luce Habere may be read before Book I: On the Soul of a Vampire.

Reviewed by Awesome Indies

June 7, 2012

5 Stars

Wow, another instalment in the On the Soul Series about the beautiful French vampire Valery.  If you don’t like vampire stories, then read on, because this is nothing like the usual vampire fare. This series reminds me more of Dostoevsky than Stephanie Meyers or any other contemporary vampire author.  It’s a long time since I’ve read the Russian masters, but the intensity, passion and depth of philosophy in Krisi Keley’s books give me the same kind of feeling. These are powerful and thought provoking books and a must-read for anyone interested in philosophy or the wide sweep of European and American history, especially as it relates to the pervading ideas of the various time periods.

It’s the exquisite character of Valery that drives these books, eloquent, intelligent, deeply contemplative, witty and beautiful both inside and outside. He was a young man with tremendous faith in God when he was turned into a vampire against his will in thirteenth century France, just after the Children’s Crusade in 1212. Volume one of Pro Luce Habere chronicles his outer journey from that time through centuries of life in Europe, and the inner journey of his struggle to reconcile his belief in God and the morals inherent in that belief with the fact that he must kill in order to live.

Volume two continues from there and takes Valery to the New World of America in its early days of colonisation. During the civil war, he uses his abilities to take away the suffering of soldiers who are dying in such pain that they beg for death. To them, he is an angel. We follow him back to Europe for a time and through the two terrible world wars of the twentieth century. Valery continues to suffer over the nature of his existence, feeling that he is an evil monster, while it is clear to those who love him that his soul is full of the light of love and compassion.  His unquenchable search for truth and the depth of his love are extremely moving.

The purity of Valery’s love will make you question your assumptions about the role of sex in a love relationship. Keley’s vampires have no desire for sex, just for the knowing of a soul that they feel at the moment they take a life. It is this, more than the blood, which sustains them and drives their blood lust. The purist of souls ignite Valery’s love, and his relationships with those who, even though he fights against it, inevitably become his ‘children’ are extraordinary.

His pain is that he can’t overcome his overwhelming desire to completely know the mortals he loves, as he only can at the moment of their death at his hands, or to loose them to a mortal death. So, even though he knows he is condemning them to the everlasting suffering of a pure soul fighting the evil of his existence, he turns them, then suffers with remorse as they fight the same inner battle he does.

The first book was set in the present day, and books two and three are Valery’s memories as he lies dying in the arms of his beloved at the end of book one. At the end of this book, we return to that point.

These books are deeply moving, and if you like an intense, passionate character, extraordinary writing and have a fascination for history, then you may become a fan. I give it 5 stars and look forward to the next instalment.

 

Reviewed by Tahlia Newland

5 Stars

This is an extraordinary work of fiction. The central character is a vampire, but this is not your usual vampire story; it is an amazing way of looking at history through the eyes of a man who has lived through it – all of it. The depth of characterisation, the historical detail, the questions raised and the quality of the prose are all exemplary. When I think of the books that have moved me the most, this is top of the list.

On the Soul of a Vampire

On the Soul of a Vampire
Author:
Publisher:
Published: June 16, 2011
Author's Twitter: @KrisiKeley
The answer’s neither in blood nor life; the key to the mystery is in the human soul. Keley handles words with authority and skill… but more than that, she writes with a genuine spiritual and psychological depth I've rarely encountered in modern fiction. –Werner Lind, Lifeblood   For some it takes a lifetime to discover their raison d’être. Imagine searching for eight centuries. In 1997 Philadelphia, 800 year old vampire Valéry Castellane comes face to face with is reason to be, in the person of Angelina Lacroix, a young mortal woman whose understanding of immortality is about to change all he’s known as truth and which will take him, and his readers, on a journey into the human soul. Discovering a mortal who not only senses his presence, but also somehow knows his name, Valéry becomes obsessed with solving the mystery of how this might be. Confronting the girl, after learning she has knowledge of his entire existence, he is stunned and frustrated when Angelina seems more intent on convincing him he’s not the soulless monster of myth than she is with providing an explanation. Unable to take her life or give her immortality, Valéry embarks on a journey with Angelina that not only take them from Philadelphia to his childhood home in the Provençal Alps, but on a journey into his greatest hopes and dreams, fears and disappointments, and into the past that has shaped him. A novel about faltering faith and never-ending hope, On the Soul of a Vampire will not only alter everything you think you know about vampires, it will change the way you see your very soul.