Score: 90/100 (9.0 out of 10)
A lot of the times as readers, we try too hard to read into things, analyze things, interpret things. We try to find deeper meanings and higher concepts. Sometimes we forget to just sit back and enjoy.
Sometimes you just have to let loose and have fun! That's what this book is: fun!
Vampire Stories & Poems is a sexually/erotically-charged collection of vampire-related content from one of the new masters of vampire-related content. Seriously, we don't think anyone cares about vampires and vampire mythos more than Glenn Stevens! Practically his entire body of literary works involves the blood-suckers in one way or another, often in strange and erotic situations.
With that said, this is definitely not for kids. This is an adult collection of vampire stories full of sex, death, and visceral descriptions of gore. However, it never becomes overly heavy or overly serious, allowing the reader to just get caught up with and enjoy the absurdity and wonkinesss of a lot of these situations.
This book takes a very Twilight-Zone-like approach to its presentation of multiple, episodic vampire stories. It's a solid mixture of camp, cheese, goofiness, horror, intrigue, and suspense.
Right off the bat (no pun intended), Glenn Stevens is the blurb-meister. This book's table of contents actually provides a captivating glimpse into each of the individual stories. Each of them is intriguing and interesting in their own way.
Let's discuss some of these stories. Halloween Ball at Dracula's Castle features two college cheerleaders, Jill and Vickie, who take up the challenge of impressing Count Dracula in order to get a starring (and well-paying) role on his reality TV show. The outcome is a bit predictable as, obviously, the girls are being duped. What you might not expect is that almost everyone at the party/contest is being duped. This does get a bit dark and uncomfortable at the end, sorta reminding us of how Cabin in the Woods yet, although we were bothered by the question: do the victims actually deserve their grim fates? In Cabin in the Woods, the evil company/organization that gets ravished by monsters in the end is responsible for the deaths of countless teenagers/people. In this book, the only real vice you could accuse the victims of is of being greedy and loving money so much that they abandon reason. After all, it seems really obvious to most readers with common sense that these vampires/monsters at this party are not good news, and this is not going to end well.
This story may appeal to someone with a cheerleader fetish as both girls are not only cheerleaders, but they dress up as Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders for the party/contest. Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders are, perhaps more than the cheerleaders of any other sports team, famous for their beauty.
This story starts a reoccurring theme of this book in which unsuspecting victims (usually women) are tripped or duped into allowing a vampire to feed on them. In fact, it also happens in the next story, which may appeal to those with a hot babysitter fetish. We get it, cops and robbers was a little extra fun with the babysitter growing up. The babysitter in this story is Karen, an apparent nursing student (for those who also have a nurse fetish). She is assigned to babysit a little vampire named Little Johnny who hasn't learned to feed yet.
This particular story was intriguing because it reintroduced an aspect of Stevens's vampire mythos that was prominently seen in his magnum opus, Blood Relations: the ability for vampire venom to heal wounds with a sort of curative property. Also, like Blood Relations, it emphasized the mutually-beneficial relationship (in this fictional universe) of humans and vampires.
This is also one of the best examples of the vampires expressing guilt and remorse, which was surprising given the brutality and cruelty shown by Count Dracula and his wife in the last story. Unlike the Count & Countess, Mr. and Mrs. Henderson are troubled by their son's near-fatal and painful act inflicted on Karen. Mr. Henderson explains that vampires don't kill, and that doing so only robs/depletes them of their food supply later. They only feed “to survive another nightfall”--perhaps the best and most loaded line in the book.
There are a series of stories that surround Karen (perhaps the same Karen at a later point) and her husband, Ralph, as they deal with a suspicious and inconsiderate neighbor named Jerry. Now, this particular series of stories got on our nerves, not because we hated it, but because we hated Jerry. Anyone who blasts their music so loud that other people can't sleep needs to be put in a meat-grinder feet-first. Those are the worst and most inconsiderate people. It doesn't help that Jerry is creepy as hell and doesn't respect Karen's boundaries. Of all the characters in this book, Jerry is perhaps the one we hated the most.
There's also a little murder-mystery story in here that surrounds a female serial-killer called the “Black Widow” who wears a hot leather jumpsuit and, as you might have guessed, has vampiric tendencies. Black Widow actually reminded us of Sattka, the blood-sucking demon from David Mammina's book, The Angels of Resistance.
The poetry in here is actually quite good! Like we alluded to, one of the best lines of the book comes in the poem titled Vampires Are Not Beasts relatively early on. However, the grand majority of the poems are relegated to the end of the book. Each of them retells aspects of the short-stories in poetic verse. They're rhythmic and rhyme, which we love to see in poetry. Now, there aren't really that many poems in this book, but what is in here is quality. One thing that's emphasized in these poems are the emotions and feelings that the vampires feel.
Another aspect of this book that we liked was that the author does a good job at relating sensory information like touch, taste, smell, and feel. Feeding is related to a “strawberry milkshake” and tasty necks are compared to a “corn on the cob.”
We did want to reemphasize that this an erotic, adult book that describes some disturbing situations. Even then, it's nowhere near as disturbing or off putting as something like Viila and the Doomsday Affair. Think of this as akin to a series of campy B horror movies or even Kaiju movies. You don't go into it for the deep, complex characters, you go into it to be shocked, awed, and entertained.
You can check this out on Amazon