Saturday, July 2, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Evolve edited by Nancy Kilpatrick

I'm not a huge vampire fan. I've read a few vampire novels, but wasn't crazy about them because I found them predictable. More often than not, it ends with a stake in the heart. But I thought I would give this anthology a chance since it features stories about the "New Undead." I'm glad I did because none of these stories are predictable or end with a stake. These vampire stories are unique and fascinating.

Evolve: Vampire Stories of the New Undead is edited by Nancy Kilpatrick and features 23 stories and one poem written by Canadian authors. The plot of every story involves the "twenty-first century vampire." Many of the vampires are accepted in society, many don't succumb to the usual vampire traditions (dying in the sun, etc.) and while similar to the bloodsuckers in classics like Dracula, they are all unique, new breeds of vampire.

"An Ember Amongst the Fallen" by Colleen Anderson is the most original story of the bunch, and my favourite. In this story, vampires are the dominant species and use humans as "cattle". There is much more to the plot than that, but I don't want to give anything away. It goes in a direction I never expected, and I ended up being a bit shocked by the events in the story. Reading the anthology just for this story would be worth it; definitely one of the best short stories I've read.

In "A Murder of Vampires" by Bev Vincent, vampires are common and live in a bad part of town. When vampires are being murdered, a detective tries to find the killer. I love detective and serial killer stories, so I enjoyed this story a lot. The twist of a human detective finding a killer who is murdering vampires, which most people consider monsters, makes this story interesting.

"The Greatest Trick" by Steve Vernon is about a vampire who wants to be a politician, but when he finds it difficult to convince the public to choose a vampire over the other candidates, he finds ways to even the competition. This story is gory and humorous, making me laugh quite a bit. Here's an example of a joke from the story: 

"Nobody is going to vote for a vampire," Jessome said, after I explained what I wanted of him.

"They voted for Schwarzenegger," I pointed out. "And he married one."

In "Soulfinger" by Rio Youers, a journalist goes to a blues bar to see legendary blues musician, Soulfinger, for an article he's researching, unaware that it's a bar for vampires. This is the creepiest and most atmospheric story in the anthology. I don't want to give too much away, so I'll just leave it at that.

In "How Magnificent is the Universal Donor" by Jerome Stueart, a virus called Beijing Blood Disease - a.k.a. Baby Dee - has infected most of the population and the World Health Organization (WHO) is trying to save everyone with blood transfusions. But Jacob knows there is a secret the WHO is trying to hide. And when he is told his perfectly healthy partner has died from Baby Dee, he sneaks into the hospital to find him. There is tons of suspense when Jacob is sneaking around the hospital, trying not to get caught by the doctors of the WHO, and an eerie scene in the morgue.

Overall, Evolve is a must-read for vampire lovers, and anyone who is tired of the same old vampire cliches. Evolve 2: Vampire Stories of the Future Undead will be released August 15, and will be about vampires in 2012 and beyond, once again edited by Nancy Kilpatrick.

Rating: 4/5

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