Author: Larry Benjamin
Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 07/19/2015
Length: Novella (~ 15K-50K)
Genre: Alternate Universe/Alternate World, Gay Fiction, Paranormal
“To be a Vampire is to know your pale skin and red lips offend others.”
It’s the mid twenty-first century. Anti-Semitism, racism, sexism and homophobia have been consigned to the dustbin of history. The world is run by “the state,” and Christian zealots, whose chief governing tools are fear and oppression. It’s a wonderful time to be alive—unless you’re a Vampire. Vampires are despised, and feared, and subjected to discrimination and unspeakable violence.
Considered undead, unholy, without basic human rights, Gatsby Calloway lives on the fringes of society, avoiding humanity. Until he meets Barnabas, a young encaustic painter. When Barnabas is mortally wounded during an anti-Vampire attack, Gatsby must forget everything he has known, and learn to trust.
Larry Benjamin’s writing gives me a lot to chew on, particularly by way of his economical descriptions that manage to say so much. Right away, I was brought into this story.
Each house had a massive front door of quarter-sawn oak banded with iron. On either side of each door hung old-fashioned gas lanterns whose soft flickering light swatted ineffectually at the dark.
Benjamin’s mix of something futuristic with something gothic had me grinning with anticipation.
Amidst the societal ills plaguing this time period (more on that in a bit), this is a story about the battle between what Barnabas feels is unrequited love and what Gatsby feels is forbidden love. Who will win? And does anyone actually lose if one of them “wins”? Is immortality the savior, or the one bringing condemnation?
This story is both allegorical and filled with social commentary. Part of me appreciates and instinctually responds to this, while part of me feels it’s delivered with a heavy hand. Part of me feels like it helps build the story, while part of me feels it plays more a role of interference than anything else. Either way, it does unavoidably raise the tension level, providing layered context for those questions, and more, that I posed in the previous paragraph. It also makes me angry for Gatsby, and hopeful for Barnabas, no matter the path his life ends up taking. I guess that’s my answer. Despite the obvious comparisons to today’s society, as well as nods to our history, it all adds to the strong emotions within the story.
I didn’t at all anticipate the following, but reading this story sent my mind in many directions. The choices we make, the beliefs we hold, the things that change and the things that don’t. I can’t help but smile at the cleverness of it all. Here we are, a tale about a very old Vampire and a rather young man and, instead of just being about their connection and that between Vamp and Man in general, it has me thinking about larger societal issues and individual behavior.
This isn’t a romance. It’s an exploration, with Vampires and humans battling it out, that includes one of each of these clans desperate for each other and what they could possibly share together… and to stay alive. They want a future. Don’t we all?
As always, I want more of Larry Benjamin’s writing, more of this barely futuristic universe. I definitely want more of Barnabas and Gatsby, and whomever else is coming up on the horizon of the Vampire Rising. 🙂
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I would like to gift to one thoughtful commenter an e-book copy of any one of Larry Benjamin’s currently available titles. 🙂 Several of his books have been reviewed here on PBA.
Unless otherwise stated, local giveaways end 7 days from posting date at 11:59pm CST/CDT.
Void where prohibited. Must be 18 or older. By entering you are agreeing to these terms.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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