Title: Sunglasses After Dark (Sonja Blue #1)
Author: Nancy A. Collins
Publisher: White Wolf Games Studio
PublicationDate: 10th March 2000 (first published 1989)
Paperback: 372 pages
Reviewed by Zosia
BOOK COVER SUMMARY:
A debut horror novel featuring a vampire, Sonja Blue, who escapes from a mental hospital leaving a trail of corpses in her wake. As we learn about her early life, we are taken on a nightmarish tour of a world inhabited by other types of non-humans – ogres, zombies and, of course, vampires.
If you like your vampires sparkly and vegetarian, you’re going to be in for a shock. Nancy A Collins’ vampires have a demon in them that makes them kill and enjoy it, always craving more. Sonja Blue’s transformation – or ‘birth’ as a vampire – takes place when she’s sixteen and it’s brutal; Collins writes sex and bloodlust as going hand in hand. Sonja reaches vampire maturity, is immortalised at twenty-three, and when we first meet her she is in a straightjacket in a mental asylum where her demon invades the perverted dreams of the other patients.
First published a couple of decades ago and reprinted a few times since, this was a solid start (and a good debut novel) to a creepy series, and it holds up well today. The references here and there to the Vietnam War and the fancy video cassette technology had me a little bemused, but it had no direct effect on the story.
This book pretty much covers the entire spectrum of disturbing ideas and situations, so if you’re planning on reading it and are easily upset by…well…anything, be prepared.
Every author in this genre puts their own stamp on vampirism, and I happen to think Collins’ version is very good. Her strength is in her story rather than her writing; there were too many point of view and tense changes for the ideas to be pulled off perfectly, but the need to know what happened and why kept me turning the pages.
Sunglasses After Dark suffers from a touch of ‘first bookitis’ where the author has to devote quite a bit of time to setting up the world and telling us how Sonja got to be where she is. Luckily I thought the world-building was good and Collins’ take on how the supernatural operate interesting.
However, Collins has a tendency to make the most interesting parts of her characters’ stories things that happened in the past. The way they became who they are is more interesting than what is happening in the present. She does a good job of not making her information dumps annoying or boring, but they’re still information dumps. I do plan to continue reading the series, and I’m hoping for an improvement in this area in the next book.
This is a very dark horror book with death and gore galore. There are some very good ideas in this story, and the series looks like it has potential. It is not perfectly-written, and there are some confusing parts where the author jumps all over the place, but I thought the dark, confused world Collins created was good.
SOURCE: This book is from Zosia’s personal library.