Night Prayers

A version of this review will appear in The Vampire's Crypt 18 (Fall 1998). The Vampire's Crypt web site is:

P. D. Cacek. Night Prayers. Darien, Ill.: Design Image, 1998. ISBN 1-891946-01-3; $15.95/$19.50.

Allison Garrett knew that being thirty-seven and single was the pits. But her existence reaches a new low when she meets a man whose three-night stand with her gives her eternity ... an eternity in which, as she realizes to her horror, nothing is really different -- except that she has to live by a set of rules her maker doesn't take the time to acquaint her with before leaving town for his next conquest.

So Allison learns a good bit the hard way. That she can change her appearance by concentrating. (Longer hair, bigger tits, more seductive clothes, yes. Turning into a bat, no.) That she can run twenty-five miles in twenty minutes.

That no amount of blood quenches her hunger for the stuff, and that getting rid of the bodies is certainly an inconvenience.

Mica Poke is a man with a calling. His faith in God takes him to Hollywood streetcorners day after day, to preach the Truth and urge tourists and hookers alike to Salvation. But because his calling remains unfunded, by night he makes ends meet as barker for Luci's Fur Pit, an exotic dance club. When a starving Allison collapses practically at his feet, Luci decides to add her to the little menagerie. "Alley-Cat" will fit right in: all the Fur Pit dancers are vampires, too. And Luci has a very specific plan for the latest addition. Because Allison reminds Mica of an old flame, she may be able to achieve Luci's current pet goal: breaking down "Preacher-boy" Mica's faith so the vampires can sink their fangs into him. Allison isn't so sure. Just getting near Mica's faith-scented aura makes her sneeze -- a problem exacerbated every time Mica responds with a sincere "Bless you." A problem exacerbated even more when Mica notices Allison and Luci feeding off the club's bouncer/bartender "like he was some kind of giant walking Slurpee" -- and realizes just what he's dealing with.

A lot of NIGHT PRAYERS' action is fairly predictable good vampire-bad vampire stuff, with Allison's naivete constantly being thrown in her face by an assortment of stereotypical late twentieth-century urban females: Luci the pushy lesbian; Gina the bitchy black; Miriam the put-upon Jew. Mica exudes a fresh-off-the-farm squeaky-cleanness despite his eleven years of seeing Hollywood's seamy underbelly of hookers, addicts, and homeless. Somehow even his cynical reflections (such as noticing that a streetcorner Satanist doesn't seem to be winning more converts than he is) and difficulties with temptations of the flesh don't take the shiny edges off -- which is probably just as well, since faith is ultimately his only real weapon against Luci and company.

But stereotypes are one of the things humor lives on. NIGHT PRAYERS isn't a rolling-on-the-floor funny kind of book -- more of a steady, IV-like drip, drip, drip of verbal and situational humor. Miriam's flea snacks (appetizers for the fleas' host), impaling a vampire with a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary (Souvenir of Tiajuana [sic]) -- did I mention that the humor is rather dark?

Fond as I am of human-vampire cooperation, I found the ending a disappointment -- one of those "we-can-all-just-get-along" patch-ups that nearly cuts the book's premise out from under it. Nonetheless, NIGHT PRAYERS is an entertaining read; what it lacks in novelty and smoothness, it makes up in suspense and slightly off-center amusement.

The Mad Bibliographer
Cathy Krusberg

Fanged Films

France, 1970
Moon and Midnight
UK, 1974
Dan Curtis' Dracula / Bram Stoker's Dracula

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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