No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Friday, June 23, 1995

Paint it Black -- Nancy A. Collins

Paint it Black is the third novel to feature Sonja Blue, schizoid punk vampire extraordinaire. Sonja hasn’t given up hope of destroying Morgan, the aristocratic vampire who made her what she is. The hunt, however, doesn’t stop her amusing herself by hunting down other vampires who prey on unsuspecting humans - and by seducing her own prey. But the Other, the violent and bloodthirsty creature that lurks in her back-brain, keeps getting out. And the Other isn’t nearly as well-mannered as Sonja; the survivors could tell of that, although there aren’t many of them.

In a secluded house in Yucatan, the vampire-child Lethe is growing up fast. Palmer, looking after her and waiting patiently for Sonja’s return, doesn’t know what Lethe will become; it’s evident, though, that soon she’ll be ready to go out into the world, and fulfill her mysterious destiny. Meanwhile, through the sultry nights of New Orleans and the sleazy private sex clubs of New York, Sonja walks among the Pretending Races - werewolves, vampires, demns and seraphim - seeking Morgan, and a solution to her own divided nature.

Collins’ nocturnal world is richly detailed, contemporary and all too credible. There’s a depth to the characterisation - both human and Pretender - that fascinates and seduces the reader. The climax of the novel reveals Pretender plotting on an almost Biblical scale - and the key to Sonja’s own nature. There’s one problem, though; how can Collins follow this?

Thursday, June 01, 1995

The Night Inside -- Nancy Baker

Ardeth Alexander, a research student in Toronto, has measured out her life in careful plans and predictable behaviour. It’s a guarded life, with no one allowed to become too important to her - except her younger sister Sara, singer with the rock band Black Sun, for whom Ardeth is a refuge in an uncertain world. But Ardeth’s researches, unknown to her, have uncovered truths that some would rather not have revealed. She is abducted and imprisoned in an abandoned asylum - where, each night, she is required to give her blood to the monster in the next cell. Helplessly, she submits, planning her escape; but gradually it becomes clear that there is only one, ghastly, way out. How else can she avenge what has been done to her? And Ardeth is not the only victim; there are all the dead girls, the actresses, out in the gully with stakes through their hearts ...

The sacrifices Ardeth must make are sympathetically described; there’s a real sense of the anguish she feels at giving up everything normal and safe. Only then can she learn the lessons that her old, orderly existence denied. In the city, a killer is stalking. Sara is hunting, relentlessly, for her lost sister. A wealthy recluse sits and pores over her grandfather’s diaries, searching for clues. And Ardeth is seeking out the real monsters; whatever they may be, they are more dreadful than the man who shared her imprisonment.

‘The Night Inside’ combines elements of thriller, romance and gory horror; despite the occasionally clumsy style, it’s a good read.