Posts Tagged ‘True Blood’

Last summer, Justin Cronin’s The Passage had me warily looking up at trees lest one of his soul-sucking “virals” be lurking in the limbs all ready to rend me limb-to-limb. This summer, thanks to Glen Duncan’s The Last Werewolf, no more looking up at full moons while walking the dog.

Granted, my chances of being attacked by a werewolf are about nil, considering that at the beginning of Duncan’s wild tale, Jake Marlowe gets news that he’s the last of his kind. Poor Jake. He’s a world-weary 200-plus-years, but it doesn’t look like he’ll live to be 400 (normal werewolf lifespan). In fact, he’s probably not going to make it past the next full moon because the highly organized anti-occult hunters close on his trail are just waiting until his next transformation. It wouldn’t be sporting to kill the man while he’s not a monster.

Jake only goes to ground in Wales, where he was turned in 1842, to finish up his memoirs, full of lust, gore and philosophical musings. But then the chase is on because someone wants Jake alive — a beautiful woman fronting for the vampires who think werewolves may hold the secret to letting them walk in the sunshine.

Yes, there are vampires but not True Blood ones. No sex for these foul-smelling, supercilious creatures, unlike the horny lycanthropes permanently on the prowl.  Jake prefers expensive escorts so he can remain emotionally detached, but that’s before he spots an American woman on a train. Life might be worth living after all.

The Last Werewolf  is often darkly funny (“Reader, I ate him”), full of knowing literary and pop culture references. The thriller is also beautifully written as Jake describes the life lupine.  “The thought, ‘wilderness,’ stirred the ghost animal, ran cold fingers through the pelt that wasn’t there; mountains like black glass and slivers of snow and the blood-hot howl on ice-flavoured air. . .”

However, The Last Werewolf is not for the faint of heart, the weak of stomach, or anyone put off by explicit sex and graphic violence. Yes, it’s been optioned for a movie. And yes, wouldn’t you know it, Duncan leaves us hungry for a sequel. Meanwhile, no moonlight walks for me. Jake Marlowe may be a soulful anti-hero, but he really is a wolf in wolf’s clothing, nature red in tooth and claw.

Open Book: I read the digital galley of Glen Duncan’s The Last Werewolf (Knopf) through NetGalley. To quote Duncan, a howl of appreciation to all involved.

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I want it on the record that I was into vampires long before Buffy and Sookie and Bella. Twilight, shmilight. Remember Barnabas Collins and Dark Shadows? How about Bunnicula? And the original Dracula? Anne Rice and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro? I should have known that vampires were becoming way too trendy when my original copy of J. Gordon Melton’s The Vampire Book: Encyclopedia of the Undead (Visible Ink Press) vanished from my desk at work shortly after I interviewed Melton and Charlaine Harris (yes, THE Charlaine Harris) for a story on the enduring appeal of the vampire. That was back in 1998, and I had already been a fang fan for years.

So I didn’t need me any True Blood before I discovered Harris and her telepathic waitress, Sookie Stackhouse, of the Louisiana outpost of Bon Temps. Now I’m just one of the millions following her adventures on the HBO series, which is only on book three. Dead in the Family, which came out last week and immediately hit No. 1 on the bestseller lists, is the 10th novel.

Not as action-packed as its predecessor, Dead and Gone, it deals with the fall-out from the War of the Fae. Sookie’s an emotional wreck, trying to pick up the pieces of her paranormal family. Vampire politics strain her relationship with Eric Northman, who is surprised by some undead visitors from his past. There’s an extra corpse buried on Sookie’s property, and the werepack picks up the scent of evil rogue Faerys. The shifters are also still  dealing with the consequences of “coming out” to the rest of the world: “Gee, I’m not sure I want a werewolf as a mother-in-law.”  Harris ties up a couple of plotlines, introduces some more. It’s good fun for veterans not so besotted by True Blood to appreciate the difference between the books and the series.

Becca Wilcott, the author of the June paperback, Truly, Madly, Deadly: The Unofficial True Blood Companion, bows deeply to both Harris and TV producer Alan Ball. She knows her vampires, too. Her unabashedly chatty, geeky guide to the HBO hit begins with a comprehensive history of vampires in literature and film. After that, a big gulp of True Blood for those who can’t get enough off Internet sites and message boards. 

Screenwriters should have no problem staying true to Christopher Farnsworth’s Blood Oath: The President’s Vampire, the first entry in a new series featuring pale predator Nathaniel Cade, who has been serving presidents since forced into swearing allegiance to Andrew Johnson in a voodoo ceremony featuring the bullet that shot Lincoln. It sounds ludicrous, but Farnsworth — a screenwriter — makes it cleverly credible. Young presidential aide Zach Barrows is Cade’s new handler (“Forget the War on Terror, Zach. This is the War on Horror. And you’ve just been drafted.”) And just like that, he and Cade go up against an evil scientist (the inspiration for Shelley’s Dr. Frankenstein) and his fiendish plans for soldiers’ body parts.

Farnsworth writes cinematically, frantically cutting from one short scene to the next as he goes over the top again and again. I could have done with a little more humor beyond Zach’s wisecracks. The president’s vampire is so, so, uh, cold. Hollywood doesn’t mind. Blood Oath already has been optioned for the movies. The CGI folks will have a blast.

Open Book: I bought my copy of Charlaine Harris’ Dead in the Family (Ace). In fact, I pre-ordered it. I’ve known Harris for years and am thrilled by her success. I downloaded the galley of  Becca Wilcott’s Truly, Madly, Deadly (Ecw Press) from NetGalley so I haven’t seen the illustrations. Putnam sent me an advance reading copy of Christopher Farnsworth’s Blood Oath as part of a web giveaway on Shelf Awareness.

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