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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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11/19/2004 Archived Entry: "Book Review: Dark Thirst"

Dark Thirst
Featured Authors: Omar Tyree, Angela Allen, Monica Jackson, Linda Addison,
Donna Hill, and Kevin Brockenbrough
Edited by: Angela Allen
Published by: Pocket Books (a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.)
Visit: http://www.simonandschuster.com

Review by Kathy LaFollett

According to L.A. Band, author of the Vampire Huntress Legend series, Dark Thirst is "A dark disturbing, hauntingly unique compilation of stories told in multiple, talented voices."

I'll agree.

Dark Thirst presents itself as an epiphany in Vampire Literature created by the cutting edge talent currently found in the African American arena. A proffering of 6 tales from the black perspective, which, according to the introduction has not been done before. I'll take their word for it. The introduction itself is a great historical read. I recommend you read this chapter before cutting your teeth on the tales within.

Rather than dissecting the publication story by story I feel a holistic view would be far more valuable. The most striking, but not surprising, tone throughout the book is the level of pride to the black race as a whole. The life of vampires is filtered through the black experience (I'm white, so I tread lightly with this statement) with abandon and an "in your face; no apologies" manner.

Each story lends a view of a prismatic whole. I thoroughly enjoyed each flavor on it's own merits, as well as, in compliment to the first. When I first read through the introduction pages, I was concerned that I may feel alienated by the blatant expressions of "these are BLACK vampires". And at the same time, I thought, how sad, that I would even consider that thought in the first place. As history has played out the alienation of the black community via TV, radio, retail, education, and civil rights. Yes, although the stories transported me easily with fabulous tales, I was often drawn to the "racial issues". I must be a liberal.

Dark Thirst as a "Vampire Tales" compilation truely raises the benchmark on so many different levels. One can consider the past authors of the Vampire and their ways and come to the conclusion that they never pushed the envelope like the crew of Dark Thirst. You'll find yourself pulled into twists of personality, practice, and mythology reworked that shatter the expected. New ground is broken, even within the Werewolf.

Eroticism is pushed to pornographic detail and weight. And yet, the writing and storytelling is strong enough to validate such extreme sexual content. And it is extreme at times. There is a balance between the pornography and character content that truely challenges the reader to "get real" and consider the fact that if an undead creature is carnal in feeding, it would only stand to reason it's habits would also be carnal and animalistic.

You'll most likely read through the first story fully aware of the "black perspective" of this publication. But by the end of the second you will be so engrossed by the talent and their offerings, that perspective will quietly give way to the very essence of each tale. My favorite tale is the last. For me, Kevin Brockenbrough crashed through the barriers of preconceived ideals to the vampire and tread new ground with brutal honesty towards today's society. "The Family Business" is an addictive read. I found myself whispering "wow" out loud on a number of pages simply because Mr. Brockenbrough took an angle of thought and discourse that was so fresh, so gutsy, the reader can only grin to himself and enjoy the ride. Good fiction stands on fact. He's taken the past fiction, rewrote it to live in these times and this place we, the reader know, and forced a rebirth of what is and is not a vampire. I would very much love to see a full epic come from the laptop of this guy.

Dark Thirst does what it sets out to do according to Angela Allen, "Each of these artists has dared to enter the world of the vampire not as pale imitations of themselves, stripped of all cultural identity and reduced to cheap caricatures, but as strong African American writers who bring a new dimension to an old story, taking it above and beyond the accepted norm. In doing so, they change the definition of vampire forever."

Yes, Angela, you and your peers did just that.

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