Book Review: “a gay, Victorian vampire tale”

August 3, 2018 § Leave a comment

Bitemarks and Bloodlines: Dying (Book I) by Mikhael Klaus

These days, when you think “vampire novel,” a story like Bitemarks and Bloodlines: Dying is not the novel you’re expecting. It’s a wild ride for any vampire fiction fan, starting with the characters. Quinn, a grave robber who murders when he can’t find a body to dig up, seems — until you know more about his life — like someone you want to get his comeuppance. Silas is a vampire without any of the suave sex appeal of Dracula, Lestat, or Angelus. If you remember the ’80s movie The Lost Boys, the closest vamp would not be leader of the pack David or newly turned Michael, but Max. If Max had been a gross lush. (The crazy thing is, I grew to love him.)

Written in tongue-in-cheek purple prose, with (possibly) anachronistically modern dialog, this story is sweet where you don’t expect it, shocking when you think you can handle horror, and a really fun ride that will make you examine the darkness of your own soul. It would make a terrific anime. The large cast creates a sense of the big world the author is creating with this series. It’s a world that unfolds with Quinn’s harrowing journey of discovery, but the story doesn’t lose the close focus that examines interpersonal relationships. With a satisfying conclusion, it manages to slam the table with philosophical truth.

This book is self-published and has aspects that could have been strengthened with editorial support. The romance plot line between Quinn and Cay is confusing, in that it’s hard to tell if they have been banging the whole time or flitting around the physical as well as romantic aspects of their relationship. The world building in the background is substantial, and has a history and cast of characters to support that, which means that much is alluded to that can’t be addressed in Book 1. (I *need* to know what happened between Silas and Adam. I need that, pronto.) Strongly in its favor, the characters are diverse and distinctive, at least, but I did wonder who I was going to be introduced to next.

Not for the faint of heart. The author lets you know early that you are getting into a story with abuse, blood, and torture. There’s plenty of humor and heart to be a release valve, though — just like a good roller coaster.

Still need a nudge to read this book? Take a look at the author’s Tumblr: BnB for original art (it’s gorgeous), comic panels, and mood.

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