Lori's Book Nook

Vampire Fiction: my take

Posted on: February 22, 2009

NO, this is not a blog post about Twilight. Oh, spare me that agony. I did read the first book, lent to me by a co-worker, on a bus trip. It was a relatively fun, mindless 2 hours to the end of the book…but it was like eating cotton candy, absolutely no sustenance.

And it is not a post about Anne Rice, although I enjoyed her vampire books. I especially enjoyed the history of each vampire. Fun, sexy books.

Who I would like to talk about is the author Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. A good friend of mine intercepted me after the above-mentioned bus trip, told me, if you want vampire fiction, here is where to go.  That was 2 months ago. She has since lent me 5 of Yarbro’s books, all of which I’ve devoured…but I’m only getting around to writing about them now. My apologies.

The website states the over-arching focus of the books much more succinctly than I ever could:

The books of the Saint-Germain Cycle combine historic fiction, romance, and horror and feature the heroic vampire first introduced in Hôtel Transylvania as Le Comte de Saint-Germain. In this initial novel, the character — cultured, well-traveled, articulate, elegant, and mysterious — appears in the court of France’s King Louis XV.

A ‘heroic vampire’ makes for a very readable series (of which I’ve only read 1/4…there are 20+ books so far!). Then, the conflict is in the human world around Saint- Germain as he maintains his life.

As Chelsea Quinn Yarbro explains:

The second level of questions arose from the relationship of vampires to humans — must the relationship be exploitative? And must humans abhor vampires? The more I thought about it, the more I thought it was worth trying to use a vampire as a metaphor for humanism: a person living an unnaturally long life might become alienated from humanity, as a means of avoiding the pain of spending most of your time saying permanent good-byes. Or it was just possible the vampire would, through his very alienation, seek to be part of human experience, which offered a great many more dramatic possibilities.

So, the books follow the efforts of the vampire Saint-Germain to live in each age. Of course, because of his accumulated wealth and knowledge, he finds himself embroiled in public life and that brings its own difficulties. The stories recount his activities in this public sphere, with any sucking of blood kept to the sidelines.

The most fascinating aspect of these books is that the horror and danger in a Saint-Germain novel come from the humans, not the vampire.

Any other Yarbro fans out there?

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8 Responses to "Vampire Fiction: my take"

Just me, apparently. I have yet to read most of those books I lent you.

I’ll get them back to you…they’re worth reading, that’s for sure.

i’m just randomly searching for it and apparently there’s a new movie for hotel transylvania coming out.
i like what you’ve talked about so far, this sound really cool. but fudge muffins- over 20 novels? wow
i’ve only read trilogies at most, that sounds absolutely brutal…..

darn your, now i want to read it

The one thing I appreciate about Yarbro’s books is that they are essentially stand-alones. Will I ever find all 20 (!!)? No. But it doesn’t matter which order I find them in, which ones I read…

Vampire fiction is here to stay, that’s for sure!

I read them exhaustively, starting with The Palace, until she got into the second series with Olivia and the increasingly extended epistolary scene-setting with its florid verbosity (to me, highly questionable in an age when paper was more costly). The depiction of Savonorola and Lorenzo de’Medici in Palace was first-rate, I thought — I actually choke up every time I reread the account of Lorenzo’s early death which she juxtaposes with his actual lyric Quanto bella e giovinezza.

Then something happened. I’m not sure what. It happened around the fourth novel when the whole preoccupation with Saint-Germain’s unique sexual relationship to his lady “victims” (who of course really aren’t victims) got out of hand. The subplot where the Indian spoiled princess was ready to perform a bloody sacrifice of cosmic proportions if it would just permit him to have normal sex with her was almost slapstick. And the World War II one veered between the brilliant and poignant and the just badly proofread. I sometimes think she farmed out some of it to a stable of apprentices. She used the word “esurient,” which is so obscure as to be almnost meaningless, three or four times in the course of the story and no one caught the misspelling of the German word “Sturmabteilung,” which was spelled with an L in the place of the B throughout.

Sorry to orate, but I never meet anyone who knows these books either.

I am rather keen on a series that has been obscured by the Twilight books, there’s a bit about it on my page in Reading Matter, the Bike Book for 3/3/09.

Well thanks, sledpress, for the insight. I’ve not read her books as extensively as you have, but 20+ heavy tomes does seem like a lot for only 1 lone woman to write. A ‘stable of apprentices’ is a good image!

Hello! I am a first time author of a paranormal thriller for teens called Hybrid. My name is Angie Reed and I live in Weatherford, Texas. Would you consider reviewing my novel? My webpage is http://www.angielreed.com. Thanks! Angie Reed.

Honey, I’ll review your novel…if you send me a copy and understand that I’ll say what I think. I *do* appreciate a good vampire novel, but I’ve very little patience if it’s poorly written (and a lot of published work gets through shoddy editing). If it’s great (or fun), I’ll say so.

Your website…the trailer is good marketing. Trailers for books are a new and interesting ‘thing’. (Again, à la Twilight, I have to ask why an immortal would go to high school…) And, are you sure you are the author of the ‘hottest new teen novel series’?

If you’re serious, let me know.

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