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Vampyric Variations, by Nancy Kilpatrick
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Edge Publishing
Published: 2012
Review Posted: 8/28/2013
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 0 out of 10

Vampyric Variations, by Nancy Kilpatrick

Book Review by Michael D. Griffiths

Have you read this book?

Nancy Kilpatrick is quite an active author. She focuses on the dark side of existence and is one of premiere vampire tale spinners of our current era. I, however, had never gotten a chance to read more than a few short stories of her work, before I got my hands on Vampyric Varations. I would also like to point out that although I have read my fair share of Vampyric Dark Fantasy, I am not a huge vampire fan. I tend to find the genre a bit like an old shoe--something comfortable and easy to get into, but overused and I am ready for something new.

With this attitude, I started in on the 7 short stories and 3 novellas that comprise this collection of Kilpatrick's tales. Kilpatrick is a tight writer and sure of herself enough to not only take a few risks, but also not take herself to seriously when the situation calls for it. She also personalizes each story with a small introduction.

First on the menu is The Vechi Barbat. In this tale Nita is locked in a pych ward for the criminally insane. If everyone thinks she is crazy and committed these horrible crimes, then why are they asking her a round of new questions? But more importantly, what was the man that they kept within their family home for generation after generation? The thing the villagers fed on blood, but just enough to keep it alive, never enough to grow strong and why did she let it go? They may find that the answers to these questions are more than they can handle.

Second up is Berserker. This is almost a writing exercise and one of the stories where Kilpatrick seems to make her own rules and write what she wants to produce, even if it is a bit out of the norm. In Berserker we live within a Bran Stoker era Dracula during one of his first tours of London. His dark and brooding mind thinks little of what he sees until he meets Berserker.

Bitches of the Night is a comedy more than anything else and another example of Kilpatrick writing whatever she wishes even if it might not fit into the common perception of the vampire genre. Consider how hard it can be to live with anyone, but what if this co-existence stretched into centuries? Then multiply the woman count by three and for the final nail in the vampire's coffin, take away their souls. An eternity with three beautiful women quickly becomes a nightmare of codependence, evil, and plotting. Vampires never had it so bad.

In Vampires Anonymous, Kilpatrick takes a more modern approach to vampirism. In this dark comedy, a vampire sets up a blog of sorts. Most people think it is good fun until member after member begins to disappear. This story also gives the author a vehicle in which she can poke some fun at the vampire groupies that make up much of her readership.

Nercomimicos, might have been the weakest story found here. Goth girls and graveyards. It might have been a bit moody for my tastes and it is quite short.

Next up we have La Diente centers around a Spanish speaking immigrant that gets hired on by a rich family. She is a hard worker and asks for little, but when her first real request is turned down, the Richfields might have wished they had treated her with more respect. Again the author mixes modern issues with odder takes on vampirism.

Traditions In Future Perfect is almost more of a Science Fiction story than horror. The tale has a mild Kurt Vanagate feel to it. In this alternative future, Vampires go into the Euthanasia business with some very strange results. I found this to be another inventive tale. Kilpatrick proves again and again that she can take a genre that has been hammered by material and still find a new angle.

The book switches gears a bit here. Gone are the comedies and tricky new ideas. She now buckles in to lay three powerful novellas on the reader. The first one, Lover of Horses, was just fantastic. I found myself swept into the tale of a beautiful woman who gets kidnapped and dumped onto a vampire's mountainous domain. This story is intense and one of those that makes you want to tell your friends about it and even think it over when you are away from the book.

Time is interesting for Ms. Kilpatrck sets up a vampire world dominated by men. It takes a little guts to make your own gender so dismissed. In this story a female vampire is little more than bait. A wild thing to be mated with like an animal, at least at first...

Lastly we have the Wild Hunt, which is the most erotic of the bunch and a great way to end the book. Like with Lover of Horses, I found myself drawn in the tale of a captured fortune teller, who, although almost blind, possesses the 'Second Sight.' The vampire needs her help in finding another vampire, but in the process helps himself not only to her freedom, but her body as well.

Possible downsides of this book might include that if you are out of the vampire loop, you might find yourself lost here. The author assumes you know your way around the mythos and are looking for, sorry I have to say it, new blood. Also if a reader wants more traditional vampire tales, only about have this book would fit that bill.

One of the many strong points in this novel is how Kilpatrick consistently finds new unexplored angles in the Vampire Mythos, no small task these days. She also draws you into a world where vampires seem believable and therefor more terrifying. Kilpatrick makes vampires fun, scary and interesting again. This would be a must for any vampire lover and a good addition for horror fans as well.
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