Grief for Heart

“Postmodern Vampirism”

Vampires have gotten increasingly complex.

Sure, there was that blip with the Twilight series, where everything went a little backwards with the complexity and ferocity of the un-dead blood-sucker, but overall they have certainly changed with the times. The metaphors that drive human fascination with this particular breed of monster have morphed and expanded as technology and human relations have grown into their present state in the first quarter of the twenty-first century.

In my previous reviews of this elegantly penned series, I have touched on much of this—the addiction metaphors, the lab-created blood sources and tropes of the dangers of scientific advancement, the origins in Western European fears of blood pollution by Eastern Europeans, the sexual metaphors springing from the suppression of the Victorian and Edwardian eras—and I don’t want to take up space repeating it.

What I want to touch on here—what really drives Grief for Heart—are the sexual politics and socio-political hierarchies that Ambroziak’s universe has expanded to in this series, for they are as unsettling a commentary on modern “humanity” as I have ever read in a vampire novel. Continue reading

The Journal of Vincent du Maurier III

“Saving the Best for Last”

Review by Joey Madia

Why are we so satisfied with trilogies? I think of books like the Lord of the Rings cycle, the Blake Crouch Pines series, and the Oedipus cycle of Sophocles, and film series like The Matrix and the original Star Wars and I can think of little more satisfying than a triadic installment of a well-told tale. In my book on storytelling I talk about trilogies and triads; about 3-Act structure and the Rule of 3s; and about Aristotle being the first to point out to us not only that good stories have a beginning, middle, and end, but what each of them should accomplish, a launching point I have built on for years in my “Three 3s of Good Storytelling” worksheets and workshops.

There is no doubt that there is something fundamental in our DNA as storytellers and story absorbers that makes a trilogy one of the perfect delivery mechanisms for a tale worth sharing—sharing being a two-way feedback loop of writer–reader on a journey that takes the writer’s IOUs and spreads them out over not just a chapter or book, but over a series of them. Continue reading

The Trinity

Dark Beginnings, Dark Expressions

Review by Joey Madia

Beneath the title of this book appear the words “A suspense novel.”

I had mixed feelings about this. Having read the first two books in Ambroziak’s vampire trilogy, The Journal of Vincent Du Maurier, I was already aware of the author’s facility with suspense but I wondered at the expectations of what such a statement might produce.

No need to wonder… The Trinity lives up to its label. And more.

Some novels are more challenging than others to review, because to say almost anything specific is to give more than a little away, which robs the reader of that which I most savored and for which the writer worked so hard.

So I will have to do a lot of “talking around” plot points here, and give you just the broad strokes of what Ambroziak attempts—and accomplishes—in the book. Continue reading

The Journal of Vincent du Maurier II

“A More than Satisfying Sequel”

Review by Joey Madia

Sequels, as ubiquitous as they have become in novels, film, and in television (through spin-offs and multiple seasons), are difficult to do well. As evidenced by the critically panned second season of True Detective and the multitude of sophomore albums by bands who come out of the gates with a strong first album, much of the difficulty with a follow-up project has to do with the long gestation period that a first work undergoes. In some cases, it is the culmination of decades of thought and trial and error, which elicits a deep passion and commitment from the artist that translates to the audience. Another reason is the simple fact that sequels are often about the economics of a follow-up rather than the truth about whether or not the main character has sufficient untold story left for a sequel. Often times, the initial Act 3 change in the Hero’s Journey is so profound that further examination of the main character’s life is bound to be a letdown; to feel forced, leading to logic holes and absurd situations. Continue reading

The Journal of Vincent du Maurier

“The Passion of the Blood”

Review by Joey Madia

I love most things vampire. I write about them, have shelves full of movies featuring them, and even more shelves filled with books, both fiction and historical studies, of the vampire phenomenon. I even have a bunch of favorite songs about them.

Amidst all of these myriad materials, my love of vampires has a lot of restrictions and must-haves/must-not-haves—because there is a lot about vampires being written and filmed that misses their core Brutality. Their addiction to Blood is as fierce and all-pervasive as a heroin junky’s—and, when it is well done, the addiction drives them, in the end, to always show their fangs, no matter how much their charm has fooled us. The best vampires are not to be trusted, and they know it. They tell us so, over and over. They are prone to excuses and rationalizations. They are inclined toward boredom, infighting, and existential crisis. Continue reading