Wednesday, May 16, 2007

"Vampire Vow" by Michael Schiefelbein

OK, I've been as fair as possible to all the items I've reviewed thus far, or at least, that is my sincere hope. I've tried to find at least one good thing in each work or something that points in the right direction as far as the next work by that author. Today that all ends, for today's review is about a book that is, without a doubt, the worst thing I've ever read.

I'm not even going to attempt a summary of the plot. Instead, here it is, directly from the back of the book:

"For centuries, Victor Decimus, former Roman officer under Pontius Pilate, has fed his rage with blood. Desperately in love with but ultimately rejected by the young Jesus, Victor turns on the citizens of Jerusalem in a frenzy of rape and violence, leaving him no escape except entry into the chaotic world of darkness he finds as a vampire.

Two thousand years later, in the guise of a monk, Victor takes up residence in the monastery of St. Thomas, nestled in the Appalachian Mountains. In Brother Michael he finds a hint of the love he has sought throughout his dark existence. But his rage, his desires, and his vow of vengeance against the God of the Christians drive him to insane levels of violence against his prey, leading to an investigation of "Brother Victor" and the monastery.

As investigators close in, Victor launches his most daring effort: the transformation of Brother Michael. And with everything at stake, the consequences of interference are horrifying beyond mortal imagination."

If you didn't notice it while reading that summary, look again - how many times does the word "violence" appear? That is one of the multitude of sins committed by this book, pure brutality for no reason. I get that Victor started out in a different time, one where beatings of others, slaves and such, was fairly common, but this was just repugnant. There are other problems, too, such as the lackluster writing, poor character development, poor plot development, etc.

The biggest reason I disliked this book? Victor himself. The character is the most obnoxious, repulsive, sadistic vampire I've ever encountered in a book. I'm sorry, but even the works I've read where vampires are pure predators, rather than romantic/cursed figures, had more sympathy from me than this Victor Decimus. And the author keeps talking about Victor's "love" for Jesus and Michael? Uh, I don't see it. Not once did I believe that Victor was in love with anyone but himself. Obsessed by those two men, yes, lustful for them, most definitely, crazed with rage when rejected by them, hell yes. But there is no love in this book anywhere, and to keep saying that Victor is the way he is just because he can't find love is ludicrous.

The most interesting thing I found was the bio of the author. It says that he spent 10 years studying for the priesthood but now is a professor of writing and literature. I think Mr. Schiefelbein has a lot of unresolved issues about Christianity and said priesthood, ones that he's trying to work out in this book. Even scarier is that it is the first installment in a series, one that I will not be continuing. There's enough hatred and violence in the world as it is. The last thing I want to do is read a 200-page book full of vitriol.

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