C1992 443pages 3.5stars
Daniel knows her as Rosemary. Alice knows her as Ginny. But she is the same woman, Rosemary Virginia Ashley, a hauntingly beautiful vampire. Danny's tale gives us her past and Alice relates her present. As the stories begin to converge it becomes clear that, though ethereal in appearance, she is unquestionably master of her domain. Will Alice live to fulfill Daniel's plan?
Last year while doing World War II research for NaNoWriMo, I stumbled across a book called Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris, an author I had never read before. I devoured that book in a few hours and when I finished the last page I knew instantly that I must read every word written by this woman. Which is how I ended up with an entire category devoted to Joanne Harris for my 999 challenge. I checked out the few books my library branch had and added the remainder to my BookMooch wishlist. Poking around on Amazon, I noticed that this, her first novel, was a Gothic vampire tale, which thrilled me to no end. Unfortunately it was listed as out of print. Then in the span of a day, two copies became available on BookMooch; it had been reprinted. Seems reading her debut work was in the cards for me after all.
My introduction to Harris was her fifth novel. This book is nothing like that one. It's more similar to Sleep, Pale Sister, her second novel, which makes sense as they were published consecutively. It has the same dreamy quality.
Now I must admit that I struggled through most of this book. Even though it's Gothic and I love Gothic. Even though it has vampires and I love vampires. At times it felt like a obligation, a labor of love. But somewhere along page 300 something clicked and the novel came into its own. I was no longer just along for the ride, I was enjoying it immensely. Here was the Harris magic. So, all in all, it's a little uneven. Not her best work and I'm not saying that it has to be, or should be. Knowing that the best is yet to come makes me itchy to devour the rest of her novels.
Great thoughts filled my inspired brain, thoughts which I never quite remembered later, but which flowered there in the darkness as I fed upon her and she upon me, thoughts of creation and infinities, each unfurling in the red darkness like hearts in flower, longings and ecstasies undreamed of, pleasures of the blood more monstrous and sublime than were any pleasure of the flesh. For an instant I was void, a wailing infant in the eternal absence of myself, then I was creator, galaxies in my mind's eye, then annihilator, blood at my fingertips, blood in my voice, blood filling my giant footprints as I walked. Afterwards, I could never recapture that fleeting moment of absolute power, but God forgive me, I have lusted after it evermore, though all I can remember with any clarity now is the taste, so like the taste of tears.