Originally published in 1998, Blood Memories is an odd book. In some ways, it’s more in line with the gothic vampire-fiction trends begun by Anne Rice, while in other ways it’s more reflective of the newer urban-fantasy trends influenced by Joss Whedon and early Laurell Hamilton.
On the Rice side of the scales: Barb Hendee’s vampires kill, but are presented as sympathetic characters who don’t enjoy killing. (In current urban fantasy, it’s more common to find vamps who rarely kill, or else vamps who are wholly evil and like to kill.) There’s a focus on the angst and loneliness of eternal life. The present-day narrative is broken up by expository chapters in which the main characters’ life histories are revealed. Characters fall in love and/or become intimate friends just after meeting.
On the Buffy side: The present-day plot is fast-paced with plenty of guns and chase scenes. The prose is simple and straightforward, not languidly descriptive as it is in Rice’s novels. Most importantly, there’s a streak of female empowerment running through Blood Memories. The heroine, Eleisha, starts out dependent on others, and in the end takes control of…well, of a lot of things.
The result is a novel that sometimes feels like it doesn’t know what it wants to be. The juxtaposition of action scenes and “memory” scenes threw me at first. I eventually got used to the frequent changes in pace, but it was an issue at the beginning.
The villain is a little anticlimactic when he finally appears. I realize that he has the power to make others fear him. It’s good for him that he has that power, though. When he doesn’t have it “switched on,” he’s not all that and a bag of chips. I kept wondering why no one had stood up to him earlier, especially when he first went “rogue” in the 1800s. The minor villain, a mortal, was scarier by far.
However, I enjoyed the development of Eleisha as a character. I didn’t like her much in the beginning. By the end, I was cheering for her. She’s not the gun-toting, uber-tough type of heroine we’re used to, but she grows to be strong in her own way. Blood Memories was written at a turning point in the vampire genre, and I can almost see Eleisha’s path as a metaphor for what was going on in the genre at the time. Out with brooding, in with strong heroines.
Vampire Memories — (2008-2012) Publisher: Eleisha Clevon has the face of a teen angel, but she is no angel. Unlike most vampires, she doesn’t like to kill, but self-preservation comes first. When an old friend destroys himself by walking into sunlight right in front of her, Eleisha is shocked. And what she finds afterwards points to how very sick of his existence her friend had become — piling drained corpses in the basement and keeping records of other vampires’ real names and addresses. That’s a problem. Because now, there are policemen on the case: two very special humans with some gifts of their own. They know who Eleisha is, and, even more dangerous, what she is.