Author: Sam Stone
Publisher: The House Of Murky Depths
Publication Date: June 2009
Paperback: 240 Pages
Source: Review Copy
Reviewed by: Laura
RATING: 7/10 – Very good, would definitely recommend
Gabriele and Lilly have been attacked by something that feels like an Über-vampire, but the texture to the evil is blacker than night and thick enough to choke on and leaves the nearly indestructible vampires physically ill. Gabriele must find his maker, Lucrezia Borgia, to learn more about the vampire race and this demon-like entity that is stalking them. Unfortunately, Gabriele has told Lilly everything about his past except about Lucrezia, and now he’s left wondering how to explain his vampire mother.
Just like the first book in this trilogy, ‘Futile Flame‘ is a dark, dark tale of obsession. While the book begins and ends with Gabriele and Lilly our main characters from the first novel, this is Lucrezia’s story.
I found Lucrezia slightly aloof in the first book, but her tale is a bitter and terribly painful tale of survival and in the end I enjoyed it far for than Gabriele’s. There are lots of elements in this book that does at times make it uncomfortable reading. With scenes of abuse, incest, rape, violence, murder and gore be warned it is not for the squeamish. But despite the difficult elements explored in this book it was very readable and un-put-downable, even, in certain sections.
Lucrezia’s story opens in sixteenth century Rome, set in the Vatican. The daughter of a corrupt Pope, she falls victim to her brother’s macabre and brutal seduction. Lucrezia is so terribly innocent that her journey from abused young girl to woman is a painful one. This is a relationship that ends up defining her very existence, and one even in immortality she is unable to escape.
The narrative is a turbulent ride, you cruise from watching Lucrezia the victim, to Lucrezia the stalker, vampire and murderess. Perhaps one of the least savoury parts was Lucrezia’s change from rape victim to rapist herself. But the clever nature of the writing is that there is something compelling and seductive about witnessing this transformation. Interestingly, despite the dark nature of the vampire, at the heart Lucrezia still wishes to be a good person.
The relationships in this book are at best strange, the revelation at the end of book one about Gabriele and Lilly is addressed and when Lilly discovers it, she doesn’t appear to be in the least bit bothered. I found I struggled more with this than reading the scenes of incest between Lucrezia and her brother.
Of course, the whole point of Lucrezia retelling her story is to find out who the demon stalking Gabriele and Lilly is. And the last chapters of the book take a very unexpected turn. There is little I can say here without giving away too much, but it does move the story into a place you could never guess it would go, it’s also quite surreal. I’m not quite sure how I felt about it, it felt perhaps a little too far fetched for me. Yes, I know I’m reading a book about vampires! But, I think the scenes will become more defined and hopefully make more sense in book three.
I do have to comment on a quote on the back cover of this novel: “Recommended for fans of the Twilight saga.” Other than the fact that this book is about vampires, it is in no way like ‘Twilight’, in fact I believe it is totally unsuitable for a young adult reader.
This trilogy is a different twist on the vampire story. Vampires are put firmly back in the horror genre, they are a species to be feared and are above the normal rules of society. Despite some of their horrific acts, you are seduced and absorbed into their lives. A book I would definitely recommend to horror lovers.
I’m very much looking forward to finding out how it all ends in ‘Demon Dance’.
Books in series order:
1. Killing Kiss
2. Futile Flame
3. Demon Dance