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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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01/24/2007 Archived Entry: "e-Book review: Eternal Darkness"

Eternal Darkness
Edited by Rob Knight
Published by Torquere Press, October 2006.

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

As a constant reader, my needs are simple. Just give me romance, sex, fantasy and the supernatural, not necessarily in that order. So it was with wonder and relief, also not necessarily in that order, that I undertook to review this latest e-book from Torquere Press. My first impression of this book was that it would contain a lot of stories about pissed-off vampires who became blind as a result of an enemy's attack or a curse, who spend eternity preying blindly on all mortals to get back at the one mortal who blinded them. It turned out to be a lot more interesting than that! True, there were some stories about decadent, ageless playboys who spend their days just laying about letting their portfolios grow and their nights pursuing hot young men. But even they eventually succumb to the charms of that one special man who makes eternal life worthwhile.

The most memorable stories, in my opinion, are those by Sara Bell, Jennifer Joyce, Syd McLinley and BA Tortuga. Like every story in this anthology, the protagonist is a blind vampire and the plot revolves around how this particular vampire copes with his blindness. But each author depicts vampires in her or his own special way; not all the vampires are evil, though they have done evil things in order to survive, like all predators. Sometimes evil things have been done to them, whether earned or unearned, and it's up to the hero to save the vampire from his eternal darkness of despair.

"The Hit" by Sara Bell, is the most whimsical story, about a hit man in New Orleans who's a witch and discovers that the man of his dreams not only exists, but is an enchanted vampire prince who needs his help to regain his stolen birthright. I really enjoyed this one; it was silly, yet profound, with enough humor, fantasy, romance and pure sex to satisfy even my exacting standards.

"A Light to His Darkness" by Jennifer Joyce, is one of the more poignant stories; the protagonist, called simply Pierre, lives comfortably in the cellar of a noble family's house in Renaissance Europe, having managed to become their patron in some mysterious way, thereby requiring them to treat him with great respect, calling him "Master" and pledging their lives and service to him from birth. He still hunts by night in the local village, but doesn't kill anybody, merely leaving them with sexy dreams after drinking from their sleeping throats. He's also a gifted musician who plays the lute beautifully, winning the heart of his host family's only son, Jean-Pierre, named after him in tribute. When the beautiful, blind master refuses to "see" young Jean-Pierre as anything but the child he once tutored in music (he doesn't prey on his host family), Jean-Pierre becomes determined to seduce him, and receives tutoring in the facts of life from another sexy young mortal, after his father takes him and his elder sister to the city so they can meet potential mates from good families (marriage was big business back then and had very little to do with love). He uses this newly acquired knowledge to prove to Pierre that he's a man now and worthy to be his lover. It doesn't take much persuasion to prove to Pierre's satisfaction that Jean-Pierre is indeed a man, to his and the reader's delight.

Having all eternity in which to accumulate wealth through your investments can be boring, as well as liberating. Using that wealth to find and aid your chosen lover can bring you as much satisfaction as revenge, as we learn in Syd McGinley's "Blinded by the Light", set in New York City, which takes its title from the Springsteen song of the same name. A villainous vampire uses sunlight to burn out the eyes of Zeke, a lictor (vampire hunter) who was tracking her, after turning him into one when he fell into her clutches. She sings a verse from it to taunt him while he lies chained and screaming with the sunlight falling into his eyes: "Mama always told me not to look into the eyes of the sun, but Mama, that's where the fun is!" She gets hers after he escapes with the help of a Gollum-like imp named Tigs, who's also her prisoner; our hero is the only one who treats him with kindness, thereby earning his gratitude, like all fictional monsters. After giving the vamp a case of terminal sunburn with Tiggy's help, our hero lives a feral life on the streets, preying on bums and winos with the imp's help, until he's picked up by a more experienced and affluent vampire named Marco, who offers him shelter and training on How To Be A Vampire in return for hints on how to fight the lictors. Desperate for revenge on Shelby, the vampire who made him, as well as her clan, which killed his lictor partner and lover, Zeke agrees. Each vampire thinks that he's using the other; neither of them realizes that he's falling in love with the other. Another whimsical vampire story in a humorous vein, with a sad ending that finally brings the two vamps together after a mutual loss.

The most poignant story in this collection has to be Tortuga's "Guapo"; it's about Dieter, a handsome, white-haired German vampire in Los Angeles, who starts out stalking young Mexican-American artist Javier, called Mago, and ends up falling for him. "Guapo" is Spanish for handsome; it's the nickname that Mago gives the tall, dignified older gentleman after picking up the cane the blind man "accidentally" dropped when Mago walked by the doorway where he lurked, waiting for a new victim. "Mago" means magician, which refers to both his artistic talent and his ability to make the ancient, blind vampire fall in love with him. They share takeout food and hot nights together; Dieter even poses naked for Mago, like Kate Winslet did for Leo DiCaprio in "Titanic". Unlike those doomed lovers, these two do get a chance to be together for the rest of their lives after Mago meets his fate, ironically not from the fangs of his undead lover, but from the handgun of a common mugger.

Altogether, this was a most satisfying read. I heartily recommend it, if only for the aforementioned stories that I liked most.

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