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A WHISPER OF BLOOD by Ellen Datlow


edited by Ellen Datlow

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 1991
ISBN: 0-688-10361-8
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

 Toothy follow-up to Datlow's first-rate Blood Is Not Enough (1988) anthology, which conjured up vampires who dine on sex, fear, love, anything but blood. Now, Omni's fiction editor calls on authors to explore the idea of vampirism itself--a challenge well met here. With no repeats, the current roster of writers still rivals its predecessor, with some of the brighter literary lights in the horror/sf fields on hand. Of the 18 contributions--each with an introduction by Datlow and an afterword by its author--15 are original, although the lead-off, Suzanne McKee Charnas's ``Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep'' (melancholic whimsy about an old Jewish woman-turned-vampire) fails to break new ground. More in touch with the overall spirit is the next story, Karl Edward Wagner's ``The Slug,'' a black-humored dig at philistines who intrude on artists- at-work; but the anthology really hits its stride with Barry N. Malzberg's bitingly bleak ``Folly for Three,'' as a husband and wife act out ever-more dangerous fantasies: ``Marriage as psychic vampirism,'' Malzberg notes in his afterword. ``The Impaler in Love''--a wry poem by Rick Wilber--follows, leading to the book's centerpiece, ``The Moose Church,'' a tantalizing selection from Jonathan Carroll's next novel, in which a vacationer to Sardinia dreams direly of the mysteries of death. Most of the subsequent tales (though not David J. Schow's preachy ``A Week in the Unlife'') also offer resonant chills, especially the final three: K.W. Jeter's shocking tale of vampiric fidelity, ``True Love''; Robert Holdstock and Gary Kilworth's neo-Victorian tale of a vampiric tree, ``The Ragthorn''; and Pat Cadigan's grisly vision of a deathless world, ``Home by the Sea.'' Other notables come from Thomas Ligotti, Thomas Tessier, and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. Admirably inventive variations on vampirism, although none can match the grim grandeur of the Count himself.