A contemporary vampire novel! At ultimate. They’re tough to find, y’know. Well – good ones besides. Ones where the vamps aren’t sparkly. Or aristocratic. Or men.

This is a vampire novel where the narrator is a young female vampire (technically, half human). And she’s a bit hopeless. Her mum has developed what seems like dementia, but as she’s also a vampire, is probably more demonic than that. So Lyd puts her in a care home and moves to London, to pursue a fledging career as an artist. But she also needs to feed. Her mum had been responsible for sourcing pigs’ blood for them. She’s not sure how to do it herself. And she’s getting hungrier.

Forget all the usual vampire tropes. There’s no bursting into flames in sunlight – it’s more like extreme sunburn. Also no aversion to holy water, crucifixes, garlic, or silver. These are very modern vampires. Lyd’s senses are better than a human’s, and she’s also strong, even when almost comatose with starvation. This reads more like a coming-of-age book, only with fangs.

Bite me: Woman, Eating by Claire Kohda
cover design

I wasn’t certain what to think at first. It seemed fairly slow to begin, then just bubbled along – no sense of real jeopardy, even when we’re wondering whether Lyd is going to feed on any of the new acquaintances she makes (spoiler: yes). Lyd is a passive character. Almost inactive for several parts of the book. Yet with a whole mythology Backside her, she is still an intriguing protagonist. There are a lot of unanswered queries: like how did her mum, a vampire, get pregnant in the first place? How did her dad die? Are there other vampires? Etc. I don’t think the author is in a hurry to provide answers. Sometimes you don’t need them. Primarily this book is approximately belonging – finding your place, in the world. Lyd has to work a bit harder, perhaps, but a lot of what she feels is familiar even to non-demonic folk.

The pace picks up towards the end, and there’s a rather thrilling last few pages as we see the full extent of Lyd’s hidden side. A very ambiguous ending – what next for Lyd? Perhaps a sequel is on the way. Fantastic!

In short…

Very enjoyable updated vampire tale, creating new rules around tired old stereotypes. Writing felt fresh and easy. I’d like more, 8/10

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