Bound in Flesh by David Thomas Lord. Review by Nickolas Cook
Join us all this week (7/25 to 8/1) for an Interactive Q&A with David Thomas Lord.
Bound in Flesh, the second installment in Lord's epic vampire saga (reportedly a five book series), raises him to the zenith of the modern vampire fiction mountain. This may be one of the most inventive takes on the classical vampire archetype I've read in many years. Not since Anne Rice's classic Vampire Chronicles have I found myself so immersed in a fictional vampire world.
In the first novel, Bound in Blood, we met Jean-Luc Courbet (Jack to his friends and victims), a seductive predatory gay vampire living in New York City. On the international lam from his murderous mother, he played 'serial killer' across the Big Apple, dining on the hottest of NYC gay society. As the victims piled up, the story came to an end in true tragically operatic fashion, a literally fiery denouement. Bound in Flesh flashes forward a month, and Jack's last victim, ex-cop Michael O' Donald, finds that his dead lover is only the beginning of his problems, as vampire slave Claude Halloran entraps him and plans to use him finally to destroy Jack's super powerful monster of a mom, Noel Courbet.
This tale alone would have made a decent enough story to captivate his fans, but, for Lord, that's just the tip of the fang. From France to New York, and then to The City of Sin, Bound in Flesh runs the gamut, from soulful introspection, as O' Donald must come to grips with his new undead powers and limitations, to the fantastical in the shape of Purity St. Martin, The Red Witch, and Baum and White, freakishly tall albino undead twin lovers who oversee all of Jack's legacy and estate, inhuman creatures with their agenda. Jack and Claude form a union of sorts, and switch their old bodies for new (now Apollo and Loki) to become the toast of Las Vegas as a duo of impossible and mysterious show magicians. O'Donald and Purity form their own union to hunt down the vampires and destroy their evil plans to perform a Black Mass to gain ultimate undead power. We have blood, lust, magic and betrayals enough to keep any Greek tragedian racing through to the last page. The end will not disappoint even the most jaded of vampire fiction fans.
With Bound in Flesh, Lord changes the pace of the story, dropping most of the ponderous sex scenes from Bound in Blood, and using more dialogue to motivate the exposition. Proving himself more than a 'vampire writer,' or even a simple eroticist, with this newest installment, he, in fact, impresses that even the tired tropes of the weary vampire have yet to be completely sucked dry. Using a classical styleŚwith just enough sexual edginess to titillateŚhe manages to break beyond the standard horror fare to create his own sub-genre of fiction, something between horror and fantasy, and undeniably his forte. His characters are flawed beings, never knowing perfection, but moving on instinct and emotion, and are more than simplistic blood-suckers looking for a fresh meal; these creatures are Machiavellian masters infused with immense mental and physical powers.
If this second novel illustrates what's coming down the pike from this talented writer of dark semi-classical fiction, then one can only salivate for the third in the series.
Nickolas Cook lives in the beautiful Southwestern desert with his wife and three pugs. He is the Fiction Moderator for the Shocklines Writing Group, the Chat Host for The Lost and The Damned Message Board and the Writers' Forum Moderator at ARWZ. His fiction and non-fiction have appeared in several magazines. He collects jazz and blues, and is still trying to learn how to play the trumpet like his hero, Miles Davis. Visit Nickolas at his web site at The Horror and Jazz-Blues Review, his Myspace page, his blog, where you can read his free ongoing serial novella A Kind of Blue.