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By Blood We Live


Review of By Blood We Live, edited by John Joseph Adams

Publisher: Night Shade Books
Publication Date: August 2009
Type: Anthology
Reviewed by: Jennifer Brozek
Rating: 5/5

Vampires are the apex predator in fiction today. They are deadly, sexy, enticing, terrifying, and ideal as both a menace and an attraction. We love to read about these intriguing monsters. Love to defeat them. Love to be defeated by them. In By Blood We Live, John Joseph Adams has put together a collection of vampire stories that not only flows well together but shows off the best and worst aspects of our favorite creature of the night.

With over 200,000 words in this anthology, there works by old favorites such as Neil Gaiman, Anne Rice, and Stephen King. There are also works from new favorites like Elizabeth Bear, Jane Yolen, and Joe Hill. Every story fits with every other story but every story is original and fresh on its own. Frankly, there isn’t a clunker in the bunch and that made this anthology for review a real treat to read.

For me, there are three outstanding stories in this collection that shine above the rest. It is their writing, perspective, and originality that made these stories stick in my head long after I finished reading them.

“Child of an Ancient City” by Tad Williams – This story tells a tale of an ancient vampire from an Islamic point of view that brings to mind the tale of Scheherazade and the tales she told to save her life. The blackened skin of the terrifying, hunched creature eschews the seductive quality of the vampire while heightening its horror.

“Lifeblood” by Michael A. Burstein – This story tells the tale of combating a vampire with faith – Jewish faith rather than the traditional Christian faith. The use of song and prayer within the song is a brilliant reinterpretation of brandishing the crucifix.

“The Wide, Carnivorous Sky” by John Langan – A previously unpublished story about a group of military men who encounter a vampiric creature in the heat of battle is especially intriguing for many reasons: the psychic connection between the monster and the men, the origin of the creature, and the philosophical discussion between the military men on where the monster came from and why it was here hunting on Earth.

All of the stories in the anthology have something to recommend them. Harry Turtledove’s story “Under St. Peter’s” is delightfully blasphemous. Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s “The Beautiful, The Damned” is lush and vibrant with its references to The Great Gatsby, and who would not want to return to the ‘Lot in Stephen King’s nostalgic and creepy story, “One for the Road.”

I received a PDF version of this anthology for review and I plan to buy it as soon as it hits the shelves. Night Shade Books and John Joseph Adams created another winner with this anthology of vampires. It is one not to miss.