Book Review: Sisters of the Night edited by Barbara Hambly & Martin H. Greenberg

Details from Amazon:

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Aspect (October 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446671436
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446671439
  •  

    This is a collection of short stories about female vampires. I just finished this book today and for the most part I enjoyed it (I’m a fan of vampire fiction after all Smile) I won’t go into each story but talk about some that stood both good and bad.

    What I liked:

    Generally the quality of writing here is very high, for me the problem is some of the stories are too strange for my tastes or too dream like (unless it’s poetry I generally like concrete conclusions to stories, unless of course there will be sequels.

    For me the stories where the vampire is not just hunted down as a monster were the best ones, though there were a couple of exceptions.

    I’m not doing a spoiler alert anymore, I assume if you’re reading this you want to know what happened Open-mouthed smile.

    “Survival Skills” was a fun story that let vampires just exist in society. The idea was that people have seen so many movies and become so jaded that they wouldn’t believe a vampire if it stepped in front of them. This was a funny, unique story that I really enjoyed.

    “Mama” was a genuinely creepy story where a teenager was told her Mom died, but then just hangs around the house. She tries to tell people but no one will believe her and when she finally finds her father dead, she is forced to let her mother “hug her” and accept her fate.

    I enjoyed other stories but I’ll talk about two last ones. “Tumbling down the night time” was one of my favourites. It’s a nice simple idea that an old man is in an old age home and longs for his lost youth and ultimately death. His wife, whom he long believed to be dead, shows up and is still young, still as he remembered her. What follows is a believable conversation where the man eventually must accept that she is a vampire and that she will not turn him. It was sad, beautiful and touching and made the vampire a very relatable figure, which is how I imagine them often.

    Finally “La Dame” this was my favourite story of the whole collection. It tells of a vampire child who grows up around his mysterious parents. We see the story only from his point of view and gradually he comes to the realization of what he is. The idea of a vampire as a vicious killer is thrown away and the main character is a thoughtful, sensitive man who kills only when he must and only those who deserve it. He loses track of his mother but ultimately finds her years later in a brothel in London. There’s much more to the story but this review is getting long.

    Dislikes:

    Some of these stories just don’t seem to fit in. In particular Larry Niven’s story “Song of the night people”. He’s a great writer but his story is so out of place. It’s a complex (I found it confusing) sci-fi tale where vampires are just monsters to the destroyed. It is part of the Ringworld universe and since I’ve never read any of those books, it just makes it that much harder for me to get into this story.

    Another story like “Empty” wasn’t poorly written but had such a strange ending that I couldn’t  enjoy it.  In it a detective is hired to find out what happened to a young girl who disappeared for a few nights. She returns but won’t tell anyone what happened. The detective finds out a little and has a strange dream-like visitation with a vampire. Ultimately he goes back to the house and discovers both parents are vampires and the girl is gone. I liked the detective but the ending, it just ruined it for me.

    Final Thoughts:

    I liked more stories than I didn’t so I would give this 7/10. Larry Niven’s can be skipped be anyone who hasn’t read it, along with the other one I mentioned. My next review will be of Natasha Larry’s Unnatural Law, which I’ll try to have up in 3-4 weeks Vampire bat.

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