Book/Author and Year Published: Resurrection (Immortal Soulless) by Tanith Frost (2017)
Age/Genre: Urban Fantasy
Preferred Reading Environment: Ambient lighting is key. Light a bunch of candles (if you have the patience for it) or read by the fire.
Reading Accoutrements: Red wine!
Content Notes: Death, Murder, Violence, Blood and Gore, Torture, Drug Use and Addiction, Consent-related issues
Okay, so I couldn’t just stop reading the fantasy genre cold turkey. Just because Halloween is over does not mean that we have to give up the paranormal altogether. Besides, I didn’t review any vampire books last month!
Honestly, I tend to avoid vampire-centric stories ever since Twilight (and the ensuing copycat explosion) ruined it for me. But Resurrection looked like more of a mystery and suspense book with a strong female protagonist.
The book is narrated by Aviva, a relatively newly-made vampire who is undergoing training to learn the ropes of the society she has been forced into with her untimely death. Centuries before the events of this book, vampires decided to create a structure that would allow them to live alongside humankind without causing humans to hunt and kill them. Now, vampires have formed clans that operate businesses, like bars, where humans come to experience the euphoria of feeding a vampire. The humans are given drugs before each feedings that interfere with their memory, so humans as a society don’t actually know that vampires exist, but the human feeders keep coming back to the bars because of their addiction to the vampires’ venom. The vampires never kill the humans who come to feed them, although they don’t have high opinions of humans in general. Aviva even considers the humans who come to the bars cattle, rather than people making a choice.
Each new vampire swears allegiance to their clan and its elders. The vampires follow the laws of their clans in return for access to food. Vampires that break the laws are cast out, and when those vampires kill humans out of hunger and desperation, they are hunted and killed. Aviva and another trainee, Trixie, are learning to track and fight other vampires in order to take their places as hunters in their clan.
Unlike most of the vampires in this world, Aviva was not chosen for the change before she died. She was strongly religious when she was alive, so the transition to soullessness has been extremely difficult for her to embrace. Her internal monologue wavers wildly from empathizing with the humans around her to wanting to eat them, from seeing them as beings with choices and emotions to looking at them as objects on a grocery store shelf. It turns out that her empathy is actually a vampire power that the clans despise for reasons that are really vague in this book. I imagine those reasons become more clear as the series progresses.
The first case that Aviva and Trixie are invited to investigate is unique. There are rogue vampires massacring humans in violent, gory, and potentially public ways. Aviva throws up at the first crime scene, which is something the other vampires encourage her to get under control. If she can’t distance herself from humanity successfully, she’ll be executed. As the investigation continues with more deaths and no clues to help them track the perpetrators, Aviva secretly tries to expand her empathic powers to solve the grisly murders.
This book didn’t really include any “mystery” like I thought when I bought it. The plot can get suspenseful in parts, but I wouldn’t really call it suspense either. Instead, I think this book is intended to provide backstory for the rest of the series. It’s almost as if the author asked, “What if a religious person is made a vampire against their will…and is empathic?” The story really explores Aviva’s character more than anything else – how she was turned, why she struggles, and why her ability is unique.
There were several scenes that made me feel gross as Aviva walked through the extremely gory crime scenes. But the scenes that made me most uncomfortable were in the bar when Aviva and the other vampires fed. The drugs the humans at the bar take before the vampires feed come in a variety of colors, each inducing a particular emotion. Aviva chooses pleasant emotions – happiness and contentment, for example – while Trixie chooses negative emotions – usually fear.
Trixie’s preference made me most uncomfortable initially because it was such an illustration of how much the vampires didn’t care about humans. They fed from terrified people because it made them feel strong and powerful, which is just icky. However, there was one time that Aviva fed that made me the most uncomfortable. She had given the man some drug that seemed to turn him on and, since Aviva also happened to feel horny, she considered having sex with the guy while she fed from him. I was uncomfortable because the guy didn’t consent to anything sexual before they started and it seemed really horrible to use him like that. She didn’t end up having sex with the human, but the book doesn’t really address how wrong it is. It just says that none of the other vampires would judge her if she did have sex with the guy. The lack of consent in general in this book really bugged me; vampires don’t ask for consent with their human feeders, they don’t ask to turn someone into a vampire, and even the sex in this book is problematic. I wonder how the rest of the series will handle this issue.
If you love books about vampires, the occasional sexy scene, and a little suspense, you might enjoy this series. I’m not sure I’m ready to embark on another vampire series because they often have a lot of moral ambiguity – particularly about consent.
Do you have a vampire series you enjoy?