I was really excited when I heard about the upcoming release of this debut novel, not least because I have recently re-discovered my love of vampire fiction. It did wane for a while: I’ve never been keen on the recent re-imaginings in the Twilight and True Blood ilk, but I have discovered that fiction in the style of early Anne Rice, somehow darker and more ‘adult’ (I don’t want to be patronising, but can’t think how else to phrase it) vampire fiction is still out there.
I have mentioned the book that regenerated this interest before: Hemovore by Jordan Castillo Price. It’s going on my ‘read again’ list (no mean feat with length of my ‘to-read’ reading list) and part of the draw of this book was the way the explored the idea of vampirism itself: in this narrative, it’s a virus or disease of the blood that can’t be treated, is highly contagious and dangerous. Only something like one in five survive contracting the disease. Those that do survive then have to contend with the malicious stigma that’s grown up around the condition. Vampires are shunned by society and have to go to extreme lengths to try and live a normal life. It had echos of early conceptions of HIV in this country, and that still exist around the world. It was very effective, not only emotionally, but because the characters’ vampirism wasn’t just about being mysterious monsters, but it had a reason and an origin, making it real.
And, as I have discussed before, I love speculative fiction the most when it feels real.
So when I read the synopsis for To Touch The Sun on Goodreads, I was intrigued as well as excited. Enright has put her own intriguing spin on the origin of vampires, which I won’t spell out as it’s more fun to read in the book, but suffice to say it was a great plot-driver as well as motivation-driver for the characters. But it wasn’t just this that had me interested in Enright’s tale It’s about an Indian vampire, Nahrain, who is ‘born’ during the First World War. I’ve not come across vampire fiction with these sorts of settings before and I couldn’t wait to get my teeth into it (sorry).
Story-wise, it did not disappoint. It’s all pulse-quickening action v. thoughtful characterisation v. angst & introspection. It has a charismatic nemesis, powerful threat elements and tension. It was very vivid and excitingly paced. If you’re after something fun and original and are a fan of your blood suckers, I would highly recommend.
If anything let it down, I feel I have to say, it was the language. I do feel I need to mention it, because I spend a massive amount of time on this blog talking about the use of language and how it can be the difference between immersing yourself in a narrative or not wanting to read on at all. I did want to read on with this book, a testament to its hook and pace, but I thought it was over-told, over-explained and contained too much exposition.
I’ll reiterate that the narrative still has everything it needs: good characters, good action, good pace, intriguing plot. Unfortunately, I felt like I was being told what to think about the character’s actions and thoughts and attitudes, when what they did or said would have done more than enough to lead me to the same conclusion.
The story certainly isn’t missing anything, but, for me, I would have enjoyed it even more if the language had been cut back and the story had been allowed to breathe.
I urge you to check it out for yourself and see what you think. I also feel there is more to tell of these characters’ tales too, so we can look forward to more on this intriguing spin on vampirism from Enright in the future.
To Touch The Sun is due to be released next week on the 25th Feb 2014 and will be available on Amazon. There is an online book launch on Facebook and here’s the link to the Goodreads page for more reviews.
Check it out 😀
And have some Queen, why not