Real Vampires Have Curves–The First Chapter
I saw this book randomly on the shelf at the local library and had to see what it was about. I guess it was inevitable. Chick Lit is popular. Vampires are hot right now. Someone was going to combine the two. And hence we have this:
Tell me that this doesn’t look like your standard issue chick lit novel cover as imagined by Hot Topic. Cute blonde girl, but in a black corset. Pinkish doors and an adorable green dress, but with BATS. And of course, there’s the title that plays on one of the more problematic tropes of female “empowerment.”
The background I’ve gleaned thus far: Glory St. Clair is a 400 year old vampire, a former actress at the Globe because even though all the actors in Shakespeare’s time were boys, they made a special exception for her after her husband died. Ok, I’ll roll with the anachronism–at least the book acknowledges that all the roles were played by males and that she was an “exception.” Modern sensibilities and all that.
Two pages in Glory laments that she was “bloating the day [she] got the big V.” Then the defensive “I have curves, okay?” Maybe someone with a better knowledge of Elizabethan female body issues can correct me, but this does not sound like the lament of a woman of that era.
But maybe in the midst of Glory’s adaptations (she’s an avid fan of Sex and the City), she picked up modern-day body insecurities. She can now blend and in no one would know she was a vampire.
And I think that’s my problem so far with the first chapter–the vampire conceit seems so obviously tacked on. I understand that different vampire stories have different mythologies (some vampires get the bleeds, some get the sparkles, some get pesky lisps). But if you’re going to have a character that’s a 400 year old ex-Globe Theatre actress cum Las Vegas showgirl, don’t make her sound like she is a transplant from Sex and the City. The novel is told in the first person and from the way Glory sounds, she could be Carrie and Company’s token nocturnal “plus-sized” Texas friend. In this universe vampires feed on blood, but they not only have the True Blood ability to glamour a victim (called a “mind meld” or the “whammy” here), but can make the bite marks disappear. “No harm, no foul” as Glory says. And when Glory talks to her ex named (I’m not making this up) Jeremy Blade, you don’t get the sense of ex-lovers with centuries of history (he was the one who turned her). You get the sense of a that one friend of yours who’s spent the better part of a decade breaking up and making up with her high school sweetheart. In other words, being a vampire does not appear to add any dimensions to the character or the story.
Granted, I’m only at the beginning of the book and there are signs that it will actually explore how being a “single fabulous gal in the city” is different for a vampire. There is reference to the fact the she succumbs to the standard vampire weaknesses of stakes and sunlight–how does she explain to her human friends why she can’t meet them for brunch? More intriguingly, she talks about how ever ten years or so she has to move because people get suspicious that she never ages. I would love to know how that would affect a 400 year old character who cannot tell her human friends what she is and has to leave them behind every so often and start fresh. Even in a light frothy book like this one appears to be, there is room to explore something like this.*
Anyway, I’m one chapter in. I hope that more is made of the fact that the main character (and first person narrator) is a 400 year old vampire and that she isn’t just a western Carrie Bradshaw with curves and fangs.
*The book alludes to how she feels when each incarnation of her telepathic dog Valdez dies. Yes, a telepathic dog. This one speaks like “Travolta in Get Shorty” and has a weakness for processed junk food.