Sunday, December 12, 2010

Book Review in Brief: Women of the Night

Title: Women of the Night
Author: Edited by Martin H. Greenberg
Themes: vampires, demons, death, love, aging, friendship

Table of Contents: Introduction-John Helfers
One for the Road-Stephen King
Snow, Glass, Apples-Neil Gaiman
In Darkness, Angels-Eric Van Lustbader
The Cookie Lady-Philip K. Dick
Food Chain-Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Victims-Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Cafe Endless: Spring Rain-Nancy Holder
Bite-Me-Not Or, Fleur de Fur-Tanith Lee
Queen of the Night-Gene Wolf
Yrena-P. D. Cacek
Sister Death-Jane Yolen
The Carpetbagger-Susan Shwartz
This Town Ain't Big Enough-Tanya Huff
Claim-Jumpin' Woman, You Got a Stake in My Heart-Esther M. Friesner
Faith Like Wine-Roxanne Longstreet
Do Not Hasten to Bid Me Adieu-Norman Partridge

Plot: The story of the vampire is one that has been told and retold throughout the centuries, often undergoing radical changes along the way, until what once was a terrible, bestial creature of darkness has been transformed into a sensual, passionate creature that is often misunderstood by the world at large. Most often the realm of male authors writing about male vampires, the genre has seen a refreshing swing over the last century toward authors of both sexes exploring the other side of the vampiric gender-the women of the night.

Upon closer examination, it would seem that women are just as suited to become vampires as men are, since they can be just as cunning, ruthless, and predatory as any male. The sixteen stories collected within these pages are among the very best of their kind, from many of the best fantasy and horror authors writing today. From an encounter with a predatory spouse in a New England storm to a continuation of the Dracula story featuring a completely different tale of love, longing, and loss, these stories explore both what it is to be female, human-and vampire-often all at the same time.

My Thoughts: I actually purchased this book from the clearance shelf of Barnes & Noble two or so years ago, and I suppose I could use it for my Off the Shelf! or Into the Old World reading challenges...but I didn't want to wait until January to read it once I rediscovered it! Honestly, I think I may have read it before and just don't really remember it. I normally don't think reviewing a short story collection is a great idea, but thought I might as well give it a go. The plan is to see how a review goes if I just write a few sentences about my impressions of the overall book, and mention a few stories that stood out.

Vampires, blood sucking or youth stealing or otherwise, are naturally the main focus of Women of the Night. One would think that women would usually be said demons, but that isn't always the case in this eclectic collection of tales. Some stories last a few pages, some last several, but all had unusual twists or plots for vampire tales. Some even had romantic aspects that didn't remind me of Twilight, and so I was relieved. Others were pure adventure or horror. No stories are "gore-fests," and none are exercises in extremes/shocks. But Women of the Night is simply a solid collection of vampire/demon stories for adult readers (although older YA readers could probably enjoy it as well!) that provides a wide range of motifs, characters, and themes.

Some of my favorites were Tanith Lee's somewhat surreal story of a vampire and scullery maid in a besieged town, the backwoods vampire town found in Stephen King's "One for the Road," and Neil Gaiman's unsettling retelling of Snow White.

Recommendation: If you've a hankering for a mild horror anthology, some vampire stories, or just an entertaining read of supernatural creatures then this may be for you.

Similar Reads: Dark Dance by Tanith Lee, Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice

Greenberg, Martin H., ed. Women of the Night. New York: Fall River Press, 2007.

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