On the Soul of a Vampire
Date Published: May 26, 2011
Number of Pages: 320
Print Price: $15.99
eBook Price: $2.99
“Love means to love that which is unlovable, or it is no virtue at all; forgiving means to pardon that which is unpardonable, or it is no virtue at all.” This beautiful quote by G.K. Chesterton sets the tone for On the Soul of the Vampire, which begins in Philadelphia in 1997. Much of the novel is told in the first person: Valery, an 800-year-old vampire, sees the beautiful Angelina and is immediately enthralled to the point of obsession. He begins to “stalk” her but in vampire-like fashion, remains “in the shadows” at first. Valery eventually discovers that Angelina knows more about him than any other human.
A vampire’s lust is expressed through the desire to consume and feed off the blood of others. For most of the book, Valery is expressing his love for Angelina and, at the same time, trying to control his own desire to do to her what he knows he must not. Instead, he uses/kills others (and he rationalizes that most of his victims are not “innocent.”)
At first glance, I expected this to be a typical self-published novel. Not that I have anything against self-publishing (since I am a self-published author myself), but many of the self-published novels which come to me as a reviewer are mediocre at best, and some I choose not to review because they are poorly written. That is definitely not the case with this book. On the Soul of the Vampire is a beautifully written novel from start to finish with poetic prose. When Valery takes Angelina on a trip, as he is attempting not to attract attention, he thinks “For what, but the shimmering bloom of the newly in love, could glow so brightly and yet, still seem so perfectly natural.” The characters are well-rounded and interesting, the dialogue is believable (and sometimes in French).
This is not a typical love story because Valery is not the typical man, nor the typical protagonist; he is a vampire with a conscience, however skewed. Keley’s character study of Valery is brilliant, and I found myself drawn to him and bonding with him (despite his lust to consume others) precisely because he does appear to have a conscience. His passion and love for Angelina as well as the story of how he became a vampire make this beautifully written book a page turner.
This is also the story of unconditional love which Angelina has for Valery, despite everything she knows about him. She does not see him as a romanticized/fictional version of a vampire. She knows what he is capable of and yet in her love, she cares deeply about the state of his soul. During one incident where Valery is overwhelmed with desire to “consume” her, she says, “This kind of love you can only have once...but what of love you can have eternally?”
Although the writing is extraordinary, what I enjoyed most about this book were the theological truths: the truth of sacrificial love, good versus evil, free will, temptation, mercy, forgiveness. The ending is very powerful. This is not a light “happily ever after” read, but one which challenges the reader intellectually as well as spiritually.
A warning: this is a novel about a vampire so there are graphic descriptions. As well, there are sensual descriptions and mature themes. For these reasons, I would recommend this book to older teenagers and adults.
I especially recommend On the Soul of the Vampire to anyone who appreciates extraordinary writing, a cast of interesting well-defined characters, an engaging plot and theological truths.
Original Language: English
Book Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
Subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter Catholic, Ink. - click here - receive book reviews and the column "The Catholic Imagination and You"
Be part of the Catholic Literary Revival.