Review: By Blood We Live

By Tina Evans

bybloodweliveAdams, John Joseph (editor). (2009) By Blood We Live Night Shade Books. 491 pp. ISBN 978-1597801560

John Joseph Adams has compiled a unique collection of stories by well-known and, to this reader, obscure authors, consisting of 36 short stories about blood. Blood is life for most and food for the characters within this anthology.

By Blood We Live is a solid compilation of vampire tales. I was amazed at how many authors perceived vampires differently. I have read a lot of vampire fiction and can honestly say this anthology was one of the best I’ve seen. The authors Anne Rice, Neil Gaiman, L. A. Banks, and Stephen King, to name a few bring their own unique vision of vampirism to this wonderfully-put-together collection.

The twists in the stories had me trying to guess right to the very end. Religion, fairy tales and mystery play huge parts in some of the stories; I found them intriguing and fascinating. I had my favourites, authors that I knew and had read before, and I wasn’t expecting much in the way of difference. But I was delighted to be proven wrong. Even my tried-and-tested authors managed to surprise me with a style I would never have thought they would write.

“Snow, Glass, Apples” by Neil Gaiman astounded me with his interpretation of Snow White. It was something different and unexpected, which would make for an interesting adaptation to film.

“The Master of Rampling Gate” by Anne Rice: I am well acquainted with her Interview with a Vampire series and I found “The Master at Rampling Gate” to be unique despite the fact that it was also about a vampire. This steeped-in-family-history-of-the-heroine short story captivated my attention. I knew I was reading about vampires, but I had, at one point, thought the protagonist to be a ghost. The introduction of the protagonist’s world was a little jumpy and I needed to read it twice, but it set up the remainder of the story nicely.

“Under St. Peter’s” by Harry Turtledove an intriguing foray into the world of religion, popes and the Holy Son, himself is unrivaled by anything I have read before. Turtledove bravely ties the Holy Trinity, the Pope and religion with vampires fluidly, believably and with detail. A solitary and remarkable tale on the roots of religion, and the crucifixion and subsequent rising of The Holy Son.

“Finder’s Keepers” by L.A. Banks is another captivating tale. I wasn’t expecting this from her, but I was fascinated and didn’t stop reading for a second.

As with any piece of work, there were some stories I wasn’t comfortable with.”Child of an Ancient City” by Tad Williams confused me. I had difficulty following it and eventually moved on to the next story.

“Lifeblood” by Michael A. Burstein also confused me and I couldn’t quite get into the flow of the tale. It was slow and I glossed over it. It didn’t grab me and say, “Read me now.”

Stephen King disappointed me with “One for the Road”. I am a huge fan of his earlier work, but his tale in this anthology left me feeling nothing. No good or bad feelings whatsoever. As a rule, I think King is a fantastic author and I will willingly read anything he writes. I will not, however, be revisiting this bland story.

With “For Further Reading” by Ross E. Lockhart, the author has lead me to some truly amazing tales and stories: Mario Acevedo’s The Nymphos of Rocky Flats, Scott Baker’s Dhampire and Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series, to name a few. As a general personal preference, I usually will not read a book if I have seen the movie. I discarded this preference and read An Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice and was surprised, in a good way. The book was far more informative than the film.

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