LUST FOR BLOOD: The Consuming Story of Vampires by Olga Hoyt

LUST FOR BLOOD: The Consuming Story of Vampires

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

An unpretentious rehash of vampire and loosely-related lore from everywhere--but especially from other vampire books. ""What is a vampire?"" Well, pretty much whatever you like, though Hoyt (Witches, Exorcism, Demons, Devils and Djinn) has more scruples than some, and does draw the line. (To count, something must be undead or ghoulish, drink blood, or both.) From folklore we get tales of the classical lamia and strix, the Chinese po, the Rumanian strigoi, the Greek vrykolakas, et al.--and some of the protections devised against them. (To distract a vrykolakas, scatter mustard seed on your roof--he'll be so busy counting it he'll pass you by.) The annals of Horrid Crime supply old shockers like Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Báthory and her clockwork Iron Maiden (blood rusted the works); Sergeant Bertrand, the 19th-century Paris cemetery ghoul; Fritz Haarmann, butcher of Hanover (excellent sausages, the customers said, till all was discovered); and redoubtable acid-tub-in-the-basement Haigh. (Of course Haigh probably made up his picturesque blood lust in hope of an insanity plea; but still, it makes a gory vampire-like story. . . .) On the literary side, there's a quick survey of 19th-century creators of the vampire: Polidori, Nodier, Ryder's melodramatic Varney the Vampire (""the sexual overtones are tremendous""), Le Fanu, and the great Brain Stoker. A one-chapter condensation of Stoker's Dracula is thrown in--""to give readers unfamiliar with the work a glimpse of the origins of the vampires we now see cavorting on TV."" And from psychopathology comes the news that ""today there are many more persons afflicted with blood fetish than one would imagine in a sophisticated society such as ours."" (Some of these unfortunates consented to a doctor's interview, revealing their self-doubts and qualms--along with the details of their perverse practices.) ""So what does it all mean?"" Not much, but to her credit Hoyt doesn't hype what little there is. A derivative, pleasant-enough introduction to the subject for potential vampire buffs.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1984
Publisher: Stein & Day