Sunday, April 04, 2010

How to be a Vampire by Amy Gray

So entranced with creatures of the night that you want to stop reading and dreaming about them and become one yourself? Or have you just had a nocturnal encounter and now find yourself having solar-related problems and craving some liquid red stuff? Well, worry no more, for author Amy Gray exposes the supernatural world of the vampire and how to become one.

In some cases, you may not have a choice. While Classic, Modern and Royal vampires are made, not born, in some cases, if a Vampire already in your familly dies, you, a descendant, may inherit the curse. And there are plenty of other types of vampires out there, from the Chao Shih of China, known as "Hopping vampires", there are the Greek Kêr, the Scottish Baobhan Sith, and the Mexican Tlalhuepuchi, all of which have differing strengths and weaknesses, and some of which will cause major changes in your appearance.

But there is more than one way to become a vampire. So how do you change, and how can you tell if that hot cutie you're dating is really a vampire or not? What sort of powers might you expect after the change, who will you have to look out for now, and what other vampires will become your family?

The second part of the book is on living the undead lifestyle- how to dress, how to tell people about you and if you should, choosing a new name for the ages and how to do so to avoid the threat of Vampire hunters knocking at your door, decorating your home, finding your true style and how to learn the finishing you will need to succeed in the world of your new kind. What sort of music you'll now find dreadfully appropriate, where to travel and things to do now that you are dead.

The last section of the book plumbs your knowledge of Vampires, both in ancient lore and pop culture, from books, movies, comics, television shows and manga to reputed actual vampires like Vlad Tepes and Peter Plogojowitz. Filled with information of vampires ancient, modern and fictional, this section will test your knowledge of them to the utmost.

This book is cute, but rather light, and definitely meant for teens or maybe even those a little younger, and definitely for those with a goth bent. Some of the bands mentioned under the music section I didn't know, while others, like the Sisters of Mercy or Bauhaus, I recognize from my time in a college radio station- 20+ years ago. There is also a definite teen bent to many of the questions. For older lovers of vampires, some of the categories presented aren't really going to fit, and while yes, since the whole Twilight Saga came out, much of the vampire myths have been bent towards vampires loving youth and teenagers, a lot of the older myths have vampires attracted to more mature members of society. Who better than a vampire to know how age, like a fine wine, can better people. Not all vampires are attracted to pretentious, emo teenagers who wear their emotions on their sleeve.

But fine, this is a book for teenagers who love vampires, and it's perfectly suited for them, as well as opening them up to the many kinds of vampires out there- because the small selection here doesn't even cover a small fraction of the vampires that exist in mythology and literature, while incorporating ideas from myth and legends like Dhampirs (children of Vampire men and mortal Mothers) and Daywalkers (the children of bitten pregnant women with a deep hatred towards their sires). Of course, some of these things come smack up against our modern-day assumptions about vampires (how can a dead creature, like a vampire, impregnate a woman with a baby?) and aren't really explained, nor is how modern ideas about vampires have evolved from the literary roots of Bram Stoker's novel "Dracula", Dracula, as he appears in the novel, is no handsome prize- he's actually fairly repulsive, with extra-long fingers, red eyes and eyebrows that meet in the middle- not the kind of guy most women are attracted to.

But again, none of this is really discussed in the book, and it's all sort of glossed over. For real students of vampires in fact, fiction and mythology, this book will be merely a shallow starting volume- something that could start them on reading much more scholarly works about vampires. It also omits modern blood cults and offshoots of the Satanic Church (there is one called the Order of Vampires), but I can understand why they were left out. So, as a fairly shallow book that could allow readers to make deeper connections and learn more, I heartily recommend this book. But anyone who knows a lot about vampires already and is no longer a teenager will either find nothing new here or be shut out by the relentlessly teen focus of the book. So, recommended with cautions.

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