Time of Feasting, The

The Time of Feasting
Review by The Mad Bibliographer, submitted on 22-Jan-1997

The following review will appear in The Vampire's Crypt 15 (Spring 1997).

The Time of Feasting by Mick Farren (Tor, 1996; ISBN 0-312-86213-X; $23.95/$34.95) focuses on Victor Renquist, the head of an undead "family," leader among a group of former loners and bonded pairs who have chosen to sacrifice independence for mutual support and protection. They share a large, somewhat customized house in an upper-class New York City neighborhood. Much of their sustenance comes in plastic bags via a venal hospital orderly, but they cannot survive on bagged blood alone--especially at the Time of Feasting.

At roughly seven-year intervals, the Time of Feasting comes upon vampires, a time when reason is overcome by the urge to kill and devour warm blood. During previous Times of Feasting the colony has travelled to some place so strife-torn that their depredations will go unnoticed. But Renquist thinks they can now pass off their Feasting as the work of a demented human--a serial killer.

The colony's self-appointed Angry Young Nosferatu, Kurt Carfax, refuses to settle for such pretense. He is convinced that his kind should lord it over the humans--and for that matter, that he is better suited to lead the colony than thousand-year-old Renquist. Supported by other young members of the colony, Carfax taunts Renquist with increasingly conspicuous kills that not only throw the city into a state of panic: they reveal the presence of vampires in New York to Gideon Kelly. A defrocked priest who knows vampires are more than legend, Kelly gets a member of law enforcement on his side--and the hunt is on.

As if Carfax's insubordination and recklessness are not enough, other internecine power plays distract Renquist from the business of keeping himself strong and alert enough to ensure the colony's survival. The police suspect him, Carfax wants his blood, young Julia wants to displace his bondmate Cynara, the Time of Feasting is approaching, and--most unsettling for Renquist--his own mind seems to be coming unhinged, as he experiences strange dreams in his day-sleep, dreams not of his past but of the nosferatu race-memory.

Imagine an Austra-like clan of the undead engaged in the plot-counterplot infighting of a White Wolf novel, but with more sophistication and just the right touch of ironic humor: that's The Time of Feasting. At first, given the colony's cavalier attitude toward the human race (of which I happen to be a member, thank you very much), I wondered whose side the reader would be expected to take. But without ever attempting to gloss over what Renquist does or wants, Farren makes him an often sympathetic, sometimes even likable person, caught up in events beyond his control and saddled with unenviable responsibilities. He is a killer but no sadist; a man of honor and strategy and, at times, of feeling, with a sense of fairness that gives him a warts-and-all appeal. For sheer stylishness, this is one of the better vampire novels to have appeared recently.

Fanged Films

USA, 1974
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Impaler (photo: Tray White)

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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