Marvin Kaye, editor,
The Vampire Sextette
(GuildAmerica, 2000; Ace, 2002)

Horror books and the vampire genre have always fascinated me. This is probably because I grew up with the Roger Corman and Hammer Horror Films in the 1960s.

This book of six novellas in the vampire tradition is a fascinating collection. The stories are varied in content and attitude. Marvin Kaye's introduction sets the scene very well with short history of the genre.

The opening story, "The Other Side of Midnight," caught my attention immediately. Its combination of vampires, alternate history, Hollywood and private eyes is inspired. I thoroughly enjoyed it although at times I found myself wondering what was fact and what was fiction. Kim Newman writes a spellbinding tale that has Orson Welles directing his ultimate vampire movie. The characters are fascinating as you try to identify the real-life role model and with actual people, wonder did they do that?

I like Barbie the Vampire Slayer in the story. I suppose this homage cum satire is only to be expected as a certain female slayer is probably responsible for the massive interest in the undead among young readers.

I also like the title of Nancy Collin's tale, "Some Velvet Morning," which reminds me of the Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood hit song. The story has a Psycho feel with gender reversal, although I felt that she cheated a little bit by including the legendary tale of Elizabeth. Then again, maybe that was because I knew the story where new readers may not.

I wondered about the writer of "The Isle is Full of Noises." It concerns an author working on a vampire novel who crossed the line -- is it autobiographical? "Vanilla Blood" is written for the most part as a transcript of a trial. It puts a fantastic spin on the defence of a boy accused of murder.

I thoroughly enjoyed this romp in the vampire chronicles and I am sure there are many, many people out there who will devour this blood feast. One small point that I feel important to make is the need for ratings on books. There are elements of risque writing in some of these stories so a parental guidance sticker might be appropriate.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 1 November 2003

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