A debut novella tells the story of a widow who falls in love with a vampire.
Fifty-nine-year-old Jasmine hasn’t sought out romance since the death of her husband. Rather, she’s lived a quiet life as a surgical nurse and accepted—reluctantly—that her physical desirability will continue to decline with age. Soon after her retirement, she introduces herself to the mysterious guy who has moved in across the street—a man who seems to react very poorly to sunlight. He has a secret to share with her, though he warns that she must be open-minded: “He confessed to me that he was a vampire: the undead, if it were to be known, and that he had lived for centuries.” Jasmine quickly becomes infatuated with the vampire, Baron, going so far as to devise a scheme involving transfusion blood (“I mentioned that I could still visit people I knew in the hospital where I had worked, and may be able to get hold of a bottle”). In return, Baron shows Jasmine the ways of vampire life and society, including his extended family and the dangers posed by hunters of the undead. When Baron proposes making Jasmine his bride, she must weigh the advantages—wealth, companionship, everlasting life—against the tricky morals of having to kill people in order to survive. Bertrand writes in a delightfully direct, plainspoken prose, telling most of her story as exposition: “I asked him if vampires could fall in love, and he said that he once had a great love, but he could not accept the way she mutilated bodies.” But the rarity of true scenes and dialogue keeps readers at a distance from the characters, as does a lack of substantial interiority or emotional depth. Jasmine accepts Baron’s lifestyle with so little reservation that readers will wonder about her sanity and ethics, but she lacks the sort of character complexity that would allow these issues to be properly explored. The tropes and boundaries of the vampire genre have been flipped and redrawn many times over in the past decade, and in such a context, Bertrand’s take feels underwhelming. The book wraps up quickly at only 104 pages, though a cliffhanger ending suggests a sequel.
A derivative vampire tale about a late-in-life romance