Sunglasses After Dark

Rating: 
3
Sunglasses After Dark
Review by The Mad Bibliographer, submitted on 1-Jan-1991

Adapted the column "Vampires in Print" in The Vampire's Crypt #2 (Summer 1990).

Review by Cathy Krusberg

Nancy A. Collins. Sunglasses After Dark (New American Library, 1989)

Despite occasional lapses into sensation, Sunglasses After Dark is one of the more sophisticated and ambitious vampire novels to be published in recent years. It is the story of a new vampire's self-discovery; in fact, of multiple self-discoveries as Sonja Blue uncovers aspect after aspect of her true self -- not only her new vampire powers but human characteristics that remain.

In the back of his Rolls Royce Sir Morgan raped heiress Denise Thorne -- physically and psychically -- drank her blood, and rolled her out to die. But at Denise's death, Sonja Blue was born, or conceived. Nine months later she came to in a hospital ward, pulled out the tubes, and wobbled off to a new life of adventure.

Gradually she learns what she is, learns of her abilities. Incredible stamina. Telepathy. Hypnotic powers. She can see "the Real World," the shadow races that coexist with humanity, their true nature visible only to other Pretenders. Ogres. Pyrotics. Vargar. And, of course, vampires, of which Sonja Blue is a most unusual example.

Just when Sonja's existence is already interesting enough, she is captured by shady evangelist Catherine Wheele, who is certain that the *real* Denise Thorne will make a fine instrument for extortion. Even straitjacketed and shot full of narcotics, Sonja is quite capable of killing for the blood she needs. With some help from Denise's father, Jacob Thorne, this anomaly is isolated in Elysian Fields, a madhouse for the very, very rich, where she walks in other patients' dreams.

Sonja eventually develops resistance to the narcotics, smashes her way out bare-handed, and takes charge of her existence. The first order of business is preventing Claude Hagerty, an Elysian Fields attendant, from getting in trouble because of her escape. When Catherine Wheele kills Hagerty, Sonja's second order of business is revenge in a climactic clash of the Pretenders.

Sunglasses After Dark defies summary, as does Sonja herself. The book is alive with interesting characters -- some likeable, some just interesting -- and a good bit of violence, much of it poetic justice administered by Sonja herself. See punks smashed! See revenants creamed! See would-be armed robbers made mincemeat! And yet -- often closely juxtaposed -- we see the innocent protected and defended to the best of Sonja's uncanny abilities. Here and there the plot is too facile, and Sonja at her nicest sometimes contrasts too sharply with Sonja taking care of herself. Overall, however, it's an impressive book and bears up well under a second reading.

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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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