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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Vampire Legends by Kamee Shrope: Beyond The Stereotypes

What I liked most about Vampire Legends (The Collectors Volume 1) is the characterization.  It avoids the old cliché about all vampires being evil monsters, and the newer cliché about all vampires being conventional  romance heroes.  Kamee Shrope treats all her characters as individuals whether they are vampires or human.  Since vampires are born as human beings, they should have a variety of responses to living as vampires because human beings aren't all alike in their responses to any experience.   I have no interest in reading about predators without personality or stereotypical heartthrobs with fangs. Shrope's characters are neither of these.   This is why I requested her book from The Bookplex.

Shrope begins by telling us about two brothers  who became vampires in 800 A.D. by using a magical spell. Many readers who see that this book deals with two brothers who are vampires will think of the television series,The Vampire Diaries . Shrope might have made the decision to publish her book as a result of the popularity of The Vampire Diaries, but her ideas are her own. Shrope's Vampire Legends also deals with a prophecy about five people born with the vampire virus who would have paranormal powers. These five are known as Legends.  The Collectors are vampires who can identify them.  

I like this concept's historical dimension. The Legends and the Collectors are born in different historical periods and have varying perspectives.  I have to say that their backgrounds aren't always as specific as I would like.  For example, we are told that a character came from the period when Tokyo was known as Edo.  Since Edo became Tokyo in 1868, that's a huge expanse of Japanese history.  See the Wikipedia article on Edo 
 A more significant problem is that  Shrope may not have thought through her concept completely.    Those who become vampires with a magical spell can’t pass on a vampire virus that had never incubated inside their bodies.  Logically, none of the other vampires can possibly be children of their blood. Their blood relationship is emphasized, so it seems to be strongly implied that the vast majority of vampires shown in this book are children of the same two sires.  Perhaps the sequel will reveal that I am wrong, and that this is a community that has always sheltered vampires from a multiplicity of origins.  That’s really the only possibility that would make sense in this context.

Now lets talk about the romance in Vampire Legends (The Collectors).  In most paranormal romances that I have seen, the vampire heroes are macho types who never grow or change. This seems unlikely to me when a character has lived for centuries.  Maybe most romance readers prefer macho heroes, but I prefer character complexity.  Chance, the vampire romantic hero, is a whole man who is fully capable in the realms of thought, emotion and action.  He can appear to be like a playful child in one moment, a wise advisor in the next moment, and a strong protector soon afterward. 

Another aspect of this book that is different from conventional romances is the ending.  Romances are supposed to have the famous fairy tale ending "and they all lived happily ever after" which is known as HEA among romance fans.  Instead Shrope has written a cliffhanger ending which I consider a weakness of the novel. Like most readers, I find cliffhanger endings annoying because they are manipulative.  It’s a sign that the author doesn’t believe in her work .  Kamee Shrope must think that people won’t buy her next book if her first one contains a complete storyline.  I think that if readers like me are satisfied by the ending, they are much more likely to buy the next book.

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