Authors U-Z

Vanflower, T. (2008). Lives of Ilya (D. Serra, Illus.). Philadelphia: Mythos Media.

Ilya has been a vampire for nearly two thousand years. In the first snapshot of her life, it is the ’90s and she is visiting Lux after a long absence. He is her maker, but there is a lot of as-yet-unexplained history between them. They go out to a goth club to hunt, but Ilya is unhappy with the poseurs pretending to understand vampires and true darkness. Lux and Ilya are invited to a human after-party full of vicious sycophants and they drain the group dry, save for Elizabeth, an outcast, and the boy she likes. In the second snapshot of her life, it is 15BCE and Ilya is a happily married human woman in Rome, deeply in love with her husband Aquila. Lux is smitten and decides to turn her, but in doing so, destroys her. She is consumed by bloodlust and slaughters countless people to slake her thirst. Pretending to be sane again, she tricks Lux into turning Aquila, too. In the last snapshot of her life, we see Ilya in the 1920s leading a quiet life of reflection and regret. Aquila went mad and was destroyed, and she thinks of him in her self-imposed isolation. A young man in town named Henry befriends her, but she is unable to restrain her nature for long and drains him dry.

Ilya begins life as a sweet, ordinary, loving human. Becoming a vampire strips that from her, and she never quite regains any redeeming qualities for very long. She is thoroughly a predator, though she retains enough thought to avoid being a mindless killing machine. It is unfortunate that Ilya never fully attains a deep, inner strength that allows her to make the best of being turned against her will. Instead, she is merely a flawed being, depressed by the vicissitudes of the world, which ultimately makes her more human.

Lives of Ilya is an illustrated tale for adults, that would also be appropriate for an older teen. With darkly haunting artwork by Daniele Serra, this book casts a melancholy yet menacing shadow.

If you prefer vampire tales from the Roman Empire, try:

Yarbro, C. Q. (2004). Blood games. New York: Warner.

If you enjoy vampire tales set in the Roaring Twenties, try:

Krinard, S. (2008). Dark of the moon. Don Mills, Ontario: HQN Books.

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Ward, J. R. (2005). Dark lover: A novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. New York: New American Library.

Darius, a member of the Black Dagger Brotherhood asks Wrath, the reluctant king of the vampires, to look after his daughter Beth, a half-vampire journalist about to transition to her vampiric state. Wrath refuses at first, but Darius’ murder at the hands of the Lessers, coupled with Beth’s vulnerability and beauty, captures his attention and he insinuates himself into her life. The Brotherhood exists to protect weaker vampires from the Lessening Society, a group of evil former humans lead by the Omega, an extremely malevolent being. As Wrath and Beth grow closer and bond, there is much danger and Beth is kidnapped by the Lessers. Wrath defends her and nearly dies, but he pulls through and gathers the Brothers to him and plans for future battles.

The first book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, Dark Lover lays a solid foundation for future novels with descriptions of each of the Brothers and foreshadows the issues that coming novels will address. With a typical romance novel format as it’s skeleton, the vampires, battles and intrigue make it a far more exciting story, one driven by action rather than solely by sexual interludes.

If you want to read more books about the Brotherhood, try:

Ward, J. R. (2006). Lover awakened: A novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. New York: New American Library.

Ward, J. R. (2008). Lover enshrined: A novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. New York: Signet.

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Zedde, F. (2007). Every dark desire. New York: Kensington.

Naomi is a single woman with a child living in a house with her mother in rural Jamaica. She chose a man to father her daughter Kylie with, but otherwise desires only women. Visiting her sister in the big city, she is lured in by Julia, a beautiful vampire, who turns her against her will. Reborn in a whirlwind of chaotic emotions, Naomi has a hard time reigning in her bloodlust. Reluctantly, she accepts the help of Silvija, the maker of Julia and the dominant and alluring head of a small vampire clan consisting primarily of women. They relocate to Alaska and she learns to fight, fly planes, as well as acquiring other skills as she grows into her powers as a vampire. She takes on the name Belle after the poem, “La Belle Dame Sans Merci,” to mark her change.  In a deadly fit of jealousy, Shaye, a clan member, orchestrates the destruction of their Alaskan home, as well as the deaths of several members.  Silvija, Belle, and two others survive and start over again in Jamaica, only to find that Kylie has been turned at the last.

Every Dark Desire is a pornographic lesbian vampire tale with what feels like incidental plot interludes thrown in to try and make it into a real narrative.  It is full, however, of strong, independent women of color who are confident and secure in their desire for women.  With so much homophobia in black culture, this book is a strong statement in defiance of that hatred.  In several instances, the author draws attention to the plight of homosexuals in those societal situations.  This book might be a difficult acquisition for most libraries due to its graphic content that is both sexual and violent.  However, if a library wishes to cater to its GLBT patrons, and give people of color some hard-core erotica they can identify with, this may be a book to consider.

If you like lesbian vampire tales with strong female protagonists, try:

Gomez, J. (1991). The Gilda stories: A novel. Ithaca, N.Y.: Firebrand Books.

If you like tales that feature black and minority ethnic female protagonists, try:

Banks, L. A. (2005). The forbidden: A vampire huntress legend. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin.

Gomez, J. (1998). Don’t explain: Short fiction. Ithaca, N.Y.: Firebrand Books.

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