Darkest Thirst, The: A Vampire Anthology

Rating: 
4
A version of this review will appear in The Vampire's Crypt 18 (Fall 1998). The Vampire's Crypt web site is: http://members.aol.com/MLCVamp/vampcrpt.htm

The Darkest Thirst: A Vampire Anthology. Darien, Ill.: Design Image, 1998. ISBN 1-891946-00-5; $15.95/$19.50.

An all-original anthology of what the cover describes as "sixteen provocative tales of the undead." For once, the cover blurb doesn't overstate the case. These stories are provocative, and that's not a euphemism for sex-filled. Actually, sex -- in-your-face sex, at any rate -- is in conspicuously short supply here, a refreshing change from most modern vampire fiction. There is, on the other hand, no lack of horror -- not in-your- face splatter horror, but the horror of trust betrayed, of powerful institutions gone bad, of love and willpower pressed to the breaking point and beyond.

Probably the most intense story of the lot is "The Alberscine Vigil" by Thomas J. Strauch, a truly terrifying story of oppression in a modern-day religious order -- and of its deadly, creepy fruits. Immediately following it -- for a sort of "rinsing out your mind" effect -- is the aptly-titled "Reconciliation" by Michael J. Arruda, in which an old vampire goes to confession as a personal response to another form of religious oppression.

Stories about the creeping horror of vampire transformation include Margaret L. Carter's "Mercy," the tale of a woman for whom being a new mother coincides with being a new vampire, and "How Brando Was Made" by Paul McMahon -- a twist on the good vampire-bad vampire motif. These are horror stories not because of their violence or gore but because of the protagonists. Jocelyn and Brando are sympathetic characters trying to stay human in the face of insuperable obstacles. Their hold on the reader's heart as the world slips through their fingers makes their stories more chilling than anything that focuses on merely literal viscera.

Good and bad vampires are pretty even represented in this book. It's a little hard to say which side they fall on in "The Bleeding of Hauptmann Gehlen" by William R. Trotter, a World Word II story that portrays vampirism as a weapon. Unambiguously bad vamps are featured in "Trailer Trash" by Scott T. Goudward, a *different* story of organized vampire hunters, and in Rick R. Reed's slightly surreal "On Line," which vividly illustrates the dangers out hanging out in the wrong chat rooms. Vampires as a subculture are the focus of "Before a Fall" by Barb Hendee, a tale set in the Middle Ages that shows the limits of even a vampire's power against religious politicking, and in "The Boy Next Door" by d.g.k. goldberg, a very modern story of the emptiness of eternity ... and Wal-Mart.

The final story, "For the Love of Vampires" by Deborah Markus, explores the appeal of the vampire through the reflections of an author dissatisfied with the vampire novels she cranks out. Although a kindly note to end on, the story also falls a trifle flat; maybe because writer Laura is such a whiner (move over, Louis); maybe because the twist at the end doesn't accomplish anything that the story itself hasn't already established.

Some stories are more provocative and some more pedestrian, but all have power and darkness. Whatever your taste in vampire fiction, there is something to satisfy it here.

CONTENTS:

Margaret L. Carter. "Mercy."
Barb Hendee. "Before a Fall."
Stirling Davenport. "Abba's Mark."
Edo van Belkom. "The Debauched One."
William R. Trotter. "The Bleeding of Hauptmann Gehlen."
d. g. k. goldberg. "The Boy Next Door."
Kyle Marffin. "Waiting for the 400."
Rick R. Reed. "On Line."
Scott T. Goudsward. "Trailer Trash."
Sue Burke. "Snare."
Paul McMahon. "How Brando Was Made."
Thomas J. Strauch. "The Alberscine's Vigil."
Michael J. Arruda. "Reconciliation."
Julie Anne Parks. "The Covenant of Il Vigneto."
Robert Devereaux. "Nocturne a tre in B-double-sharp Minor."
Deborah Markus. "For the Love of Vampires."

The Mad Bibliographer
Cathy Krusberg

Fanged Films

Poland, 1986
I Like Bats / Wenn Vampire Lieben
USA, 1968
Shadows on the Wall

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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