intense sensations

Posts Tagged ‘vampires

House of Night #1 (House of Night: The Graphic Novel, #1)House of Night #1 by P.C. Cast
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had mixed feelings about this comic, which is based on a series of novels I haven’t read.

At first I hated the teenage stereotyping of the main characters. Do American teenage girls really squabble like this about boys? Are they really this shallow and feckless?

Then I hated the misappropriation of some of the world’s great mythic stories – Nyx, Persephone, Freya, et cetera.

But above all I disliked the way this story tames and domesticates the myth of the evil blood sucking vampire. This a more general trend in modern American teenage fiction so I suppose there’s nothing we can do about it but it saddens me deeply to see a powerful symbolic creature sapped of its life force in this way.

Then I smoothed my wrinkled brow and thought about it objectively. The story is coherent and works well as a metaphor for the journey into womanhood. Blood and lust are forever co-mingled in the adolescent female psyche. Establishing a finishing school in the heart of suburbia where primeval sexual urges can be understood and assimilated through archetypal mythic images is probably not a bad thing. I see nothing wrong with creating the conditions in which sexualised women are not seen as a threat to society, and this story helps to do that quite well.

The drawings are very good, particularly the ones set in mythical Norway, which are by Karl Kerschl.

So, all in all, it’s an intriguing little comic, which I ended up liking more the more I thought about it. I won’t be reading the novels, though, hahahahaha!

Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #1)Dark Lover by J.R. Ward
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is the first of a popular series but I didn’t like this book at all and won’t be reading any more. The author writes very breezily and she is plainly out to have fun with a hackneyed genre but I couldn’t even like the book on its own terms.

The author would probably say I’m a snob and a dilettante who has her head up her own ass. I admit I have delicate sensibilities. There’s nothing I abhor more than a lazy imagination.

The main character in the book is called Wrath. He’s a vampire. A pretty important vampire and a nasty piece of work to boot. When asked to do a favour for a friend he refuses.

“If it had been anyone else, Wrath would have used his favorite pair of words: fuck and off. As far as he was concerned, there were only two good positions for a human. A female on her back. And a male facedown and not breathing.”

You don’t have to read much more to realise this book is going to offer few delights. There are so many ways to ravish a woman. There are so many ways to kill a man. A vampire who can only think of one in each category is a bit wet behind the ears I would say.

No, no. I like it darker than this. Darker, dirtier and more ingenious. I’ve met vampires who could crush the grapes of Wrath.

Vanessa Wu is the author of Love Has No Limits

Asking for Trouble (Black Lace)Asking for Trouble by Kristina Lloyd
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As a writer of erotica, there are many things I’ve tried to learn from this book. How to make condoms sexy. How to coarsen my vocabulary. When to let my heroine wear knickers with a gusset. And many other tricks of the trade.

But there’s one thing that, for my money, Kristina does better than any other writer of erotica, and that’s to use her sophisticated mastery of language to describe quite complex physical sensations. She does it very simply and accurately and the effect is very powerful.

Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of her language. What she is doing is very difficult. For she doesn’t just focus on the physical. She manages to dig out and express the emotional roots of desire.

I recommend this book to every writer. Kristina can be lyrical at times but she is never self-indulgent. And when she needs to be crude she is definitively crude. Above all, she strives to be accurate. Her touchstone is undoubtedly herself, her own body, her own desires, her own responses. For this reason alone the book is very daring. Many writers of erotica fall back on well-worn phrases. They do not make best use of the raw material available to them – themselves.

As an example, here is a description of Beth walking along the beach in Brighton.

The wind buffeted me and, every now and again, my steps went crooked and drunken because it was so ferociously strong. It was warm and arid too: my eyes didn’t stream the way they would do in a chill wind. That rushing air had the opposite effect; it made my eyeballs feel strangely dry.

There are some emotions lying beneath the surface of those stark sentences but even if you are not aware of them, because I have lifted the words out of their context, you get a sense of how clinically accurate Kristina can be.

Stephen King once wrote in one of his introductions to Salem’s Lot (June 15, 2005):

So turn off the television … and we’ll talk about vampires here in the dim. I think I can make you believe in them, because while I was working on this book, I believed in them myself.

Whenever I pick up Kristina’s book and re-read her sentences about Ilya and Beth, her vivid descriptions of Brighton, her sharp and swanky dialogue, I believe that what I am reading is real. Because while Kristina was writing this book, it was real.

Not everyone can handle this kind of authenticity. This book isn’t for everyone. Beth degrades herself in ways that are sick and disgusting. She does things that no woman should ever do. But I believe in her. I understand her. I care about her. And for that Kristina earns my everlasting respect.

Vanessa Wu is the author of Love Has No Limits


Books by Vanessa Wu

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