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A varied collection
on 13 September 2006
Bite is a collection of five short stories from Laurell K Hamilton (her Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series), Charlaine Harris (a Sookie Stackhouse short story), MaryJanice Davidson, Angela Knight and Vickie Taylor. I was very familiar with the first two authors but had read nothing of the other three.
Overall this collection was disappointing to me. Although the Laurell Hamilton story "The Girl Who Was Infatuated With Death" was OK it wasn't particularly deep (yes, I know it's a short story and so has limited space). It is set in the interval between Blue Moon and Obsidian Butterfly but fortunately hasn't descended, at that point, into the soft porn that the Anita Blake novels have turned into. The story itself is fairly simple and its resolution is really a chance to enable the main characters Anita Blake and Jean-Claude the Master Vampire to meet again. It was a perfectly acceptable story but nothing to get really excited about.
The Charlaine Harris story "One Word Answer" is set at the end of the third or fourth Sookie Stackhouse novel where Sookie and Vampire Bill are just friends rather than lovers. It features a strange night visit to Sookie's house of an unknown vampire who comes bringing news of a legacy left to Sookie by a cousin who, it turns out, was a vampire and was staked the previous month. There's more going on than the story suggests and, for once, Sookie realises this before Bill Compton or Bubba, her two neighbourly vampires. This is a fun little story but doesn't add much overall to this series.
The third story, "Biting in Plain Sight" by MaryJanice Davidson was really good and worked pretty well as a standalone story. I don't know if this author has written anything else on this theme, but if so this would inspire me to read it. Her main character is a vampire vet - all the people who live in her village know she's a vampire but it's not talked about. When she hears of trouble she finds one of the fellow villagers wants to help her and this is the start of an investigation into a rogue vampire who is causing young mortals to commit suicide. Sophie and her new assistant Liam, the friendly but slightly dim-seeming farmer, ride to the rescue and find each other in the process. It was a well-written book and I enjoyed it very much.
On the other hand, Galahad by Angela Knight was a real disappointment. I expect it's part of a wider series as there was an awful lot of stuff thrown at me that I didn't have a full explanation for. But the basic story seemed to be something upon which to hang a steamy sex scene and it didn't work for me at all. The world/environment was very complex, the magic these people wielded seemed far too convenient to help them save the day, and the sex scene didn't feel sexy. A disappointment. And not actually all that Vampiric - Galahad was a vampire but that was a very minor part of the book; it was mostly about witchcraft.
"Blood Lust" by Vickie Taylor was a better story. It's about a man who has invented synthetic blood, only to have a vampire steal his work and his fiancée. Daniel researches vampires, then plans to be made into one so he can gain revenge and rescue his fiancée by killing her (obviously she wouldn't want to be a vampire really). To do this he finds Deadre, the lonely female vampire, at a club and tries to persuade her to turn him into a vampire. Of course he doesn't really know what he's letting himself in for, particularly the requirement for regular blood as a new-born vampire, and things aren't really what they seem. This was a good story although the denouement happened rather easily, as in all of these stories.
Having read the book, it is obviously something than fans of these authors might want to complete their collection, and the stories are OK in their own right, but none of them are really fantastic and the short story formula doesn't quite seem to provide enough depth to make these truly satisfying stories.