Child of the Night

Child of the Night
Review by The Mad Bibliographer, submitted on 1-Jan-1996

A version of this review will appear in "Vampires in Print" in The Vampire's Crypt #14 (Fall 1996).

Review by Cathy Krusberg

Nancy Kilpatrick. Child of the Night. London: Raven Books, 1996; ISBN 1-85487-446-2. Available in the U.S. as a trade paperback
From: Weinberg Books, 15145 Oxford Dr., Oak Forest, IL 60452; $14.95 + $4.50 shipping (U.S. Mail insured or UPS).

Vacationing in Bordeaux, France, Carol Robins is convinced that she's been abducted by a very wealthy blood-drinking maniac and makes a deal with him: For two weeks she'll do whatever he wants, provided he doesn't drink her blood (she fears she may be HIV-positive). The household that she is imprisoned in seems to be a small, intimate cult: bouncy Gerlinde, taciturn Karl, prudent Chloe. None will interfere with her jailer Andre: Not when he keeps her naked, not when he whips her, not when he leaves her in Bordeaux and tells her never to come back.

But when Carol learns that she's pregnant she does just that. Andre is furious, initially refusing to believe that the child is his because -- as Chloe explains -- for their kind to impregnate a mortal is a rare event, occurring only once in centuries. (At this point Carol is still more inclined to think that they are a blood cult than anything truly supernatural -- or superhuman.) The group convinces Carol to have the child. She can stay with them until she comes to term -- particularly with Andre, whose prenatal influence is necessarily for his child's health. And afterward -- she can leave the child with them for the special nurturing it will need.

Living with the group convinces Carol that they are indeed something other than human (although Gerlinde objects to the word vampire: "It gives me the creeps"). But she wants to stay with the baby, and the only way the group will permit that is if she becomes one of them. This she also refuses. Once the child is born, she abducts him and travels as far as Le Havre before Andre and company catch up with her.

Nine years later, in Philadelphia, Carol is still in therapy, trying to remember what happened. Seeing her therapist's bottle of Bordeaux releases seemingly lost memories, and Carol realizes that she must return to Europe and search for her son. Unexpected help leads her to the ancient Julien. He had been present at the birth, and he shocks his household by giving her Andre's address in Quebec with the simple explanation: "I have no intention of hindering destiny."

But destiny, like the course of true love, refuses to run smoothly. Young Michel's affection for his birth mother and the elders' intervention may not be enough to overcome Andre's own wild and habitually suspicious nature -- or Carol's lingering resentment and wariness. Even a ritual redolent of sex and fraught with sips of blood may not be enough to keep Carol from going the way of Andre's previous liaisons -- who died with their throats ripped out.

Child of the Night is a novel of sex and passion and mystery. For me, the oddest part of the whole compelling experience of reading it was that through most of the book I was longing for Andre to get his comeuppance for being such a grasping macho jerk -- and by the end I, like Carol, without conscious effort, had forgiven him everything. I still don't know why. But it speaks volumes for Kilpatrick's writing that she can work such a resolution when dealing with such volatile materials as Andre and Carol and the balance-point between mortal and immortality.

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From the Library

As the 20th century evolved, rational man turned to science to explain mythology that had pervaded for thousands of years. How could a man be mistaken for a vampire? How could someone appear to have been the victim of a vampire attack? Science, in time, came back with answers that may surprise you.Anemia
A million fancies strike you when you hear the name: Nosferatu!N O S F E R A T Udoes not die!What do you expect of the first showing of this great work?Aren't you afraid? - Men must die. But legend has it that a vampire, Nosferatu, 'der Untote' (the Undead), lives on men's blood! You want to see a symphony of horror? You may expect more. Be careful. Nosferatu is not just fun, not something to be taken lightly. Once more: beware.- Publicity for Nosferatu in the German magazine Buhne und Film, 1922  

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