“Welcome to a whole new world, where magic is real and an eons old battle for the rule of our world is fought: this is the world of Michael of Appolonia, one of the original seven vampires created in the times of the Pharaohs.”
Review by Deanna Anderson
The first chapter will draw you in with its grim, rainy scene set mostly in a parking garage—and nothing good ever happens in a parking garage. The tension will pull readers along with the character, Sara, as she is dealing with the elements working against her, trying to find her car and a rogue vampire.
Yes, this is another vampire tale. With a slew of them already in existence it would seem that authors and readers alike would get bored with vampires, but that never appears to be the case. We are seduced by them, enthralled by them, enticed and excited by them. Readers always want vampire stories, and authors try to keep up with demands, but the trick is to create a vampire that, while stereotypically sharing qualities we like in traditional vamps, also have new and unique characters that make their vampires stand out. Bonewits has cleverly done this in his novel by combining some of the traits we like so well, such as drinking blood and certain vampiric rules, but also giving us a new aspect such as with the character Michael who, while a vamp, has never drunk human blood and therefore has maintained more of his humanity than most.
Michael is a wonderful character who cares for a young woman (a human) named Aleya and, in fact, rescued her from vampires and a burning house fifteen years earlier. In an opening scene he tucks her in and turns on her electric blanket. He also puts the dishes in the dishwasher. I don’t know why, but I love the idea of a domestic vampire. It is a unique idea; we’ve seen vampires with souls and vampires who attend school or drive cars, but one who tucks people in and does dishes is endearing and sweet. Michael also sheds his skin like a snake and can still see his reflection. Throughout the novel we are given little tastes of what he can and cannot do in regards to what society thinks of as “normal” vampires, and it keeps readers turning each and every page to see other ways that Michael differs from others. Not to mention the action, fear, suspense and just a damn good story that keeps readers turning pages.
Early on we get Michael’s past and creation and learn (without giving too much away) of a Pharoah’s curse in the time of Moses that created the first vampires. They feasted on the soldiers who mistreated, raped and restrained them, and they attacked their Pharoah. Michael, who was believed to be a betrayer by both the Pharoah and his comrades, was given the vampire curse; his comrades buried him deep, and he went into hibernation. They felt he had warned the Pharoah of their treason and therefore when they realized the curse was a gift (in their eyes), they refused to let Michael embrace it. When he awakes centuries later he is still a vampire, in a sense, but he’s different than other vampires in a multitude of ways. He is given a quest to eliminate the world of all the vampiric scourge—to therefore regain his humanity.
The “Others,” or the ones who are truly vampires, are ruthless, selfish and egotistical and enjoy their roles as barbaric vampires. Unlike most vampire tales where they simply heal and regenerate in their own body, Bonewits has a much messier and horrifying method for regenerating, or replacing, a damaged vampire body. Through the best sex most people will ever get, and basically implanting the female with a “fetus,” new vampires can be made or old vampires can get new bodies that will explode out of hapless victims’ bellies. They enlarge and harden into adult forms, sort of like a cicada bursting out of its exoskeleton to emerge as a new and larger bug; however, vampires use other bodies for their emergence. This is another twist from the traditional vampires, and one that will leave readers pleasantly disgusted.
I could go on and on about the novel in general, about the twists and turns away from typical vampires and about Bonewits’ unique and descriptive imagery and scenes. But I won’t, so suffice it to say that Bonewits has definitely created something unique here and strays from the typical vampire tale. He realizes this and even has Michael comment on it when he reflects on some of the stereotypes in today’s society and thinks to himself, “Who writes that crap?” Well, we know who does not write that crap: Oliver Bonewits. Go now, and get your copy of “Of Blood and Magic,” and plan on doing nothing for a week but read this novel. You’ll be glad you did.