Bound in Blood - David Thomas Lord
We’re all here because we love those boy vampires, so you’d think a book with a devastatingly handsome hunk of undead manflesh, namely cultured 19th century Frenchman, Jean-Luc (Jack) Coubert, now resident in contemporary New York, couldn’t fail to please. Especially as he has to feed upon beautiful, strong, virile men in their prime to survive. Well, you’d be wrong.
It left me deflated…feeling cheated, dissatisfied, and above all disappointed, like a box of chocolates that’s all soft centres…because it should’ve been so much more given the material Thomas Lord had to work with. Actually it made me rather cross. He sets out, I think, to create a vampire that’s the antithesis of the romantic tormented hero of the bodice-ripping variety. Jack meets a female scribbler of vampire stories featuring “effete bloodsuckers clad in silk and lace”. Literary criticism is rarely quite so deadly. Jack is a self-obsessed monster, rather like a serial killer. He’s plain unlikeable. I felt no sympathy for him whatsoever, and I wanted to so very badly. I quickly tired of repeated, frequently disturbing and gory, encounters with a dizzying succession of unfortunate tricks picked up in clubs and bars. Jack hunts to satisfy his blood hunger, the need for sex and to dull the edge of his anger toward his mother (very Freudian) in a weird vengeance game they’re playing across time and an ocean. But his victims generally are sympathetic characters and I was often rooting for the hapless humans, whereas normally I’m with the bloodsuckers.
It’s not that I need my vamps to be soulful brooders, though I confess Angel is my fanged favourite. See my rave reviews for “Vampire Vow” and “Vampire Thrall” for proof. Neither Thomas Lord nor Schiefelbein attempts to seduce us with his creation, Jack Coubert and Victor Decimus. There the similarity ends. Victor seeks a way out of his blood-splattered eternity, through passion and love and takes control of his destiny. Jack’s existence is about hate not love, fear not confidence. There’s little sensuality, no enjoyment, no pleasure. The sex is explicit yet not nearly as erotically intense as some of our tamer reads. Victor rejoices in his homosexuality and makes love to his chosen companion, whereas Jack’s predatory feeding habits seem to punish young gay men for what they are, including himself. He meets Claude, an actor who lives in his apartment building, but their relationship was nothing like the one I wanted. I anticipated Jack seeking out a companion in the same way his maker did with him, then he gets drawn into a het relationship, trying to replace his mother.
The historical background is interesting, although pages of italic typeface for the flashbacks gets annoying. The vampire mythology is elaborate and quite intriguing: they reflect in mirrors; they cannot destroy their creators and can be killed only during the full moon; they smell of death and decay, disguised only by fresh blood; and although they have sex they can only achieve erections after feeding but cannot ejaculate. I rather liked the method whereby Jack’s maker fed him to turn him into a vampire.
There are scenes that made me feel quite queasy. The plot becomes increasingly ludicrous and contrived as it builds towards its confusing climax. I was bewildered, wondering where it all went wrong. Narcissist Jack is incapable of love, therefore the book has neither heart nor soul, nor does it offer any kind of redemption. What exactly is its point? Don’t ask me because I can’t tell you. And that annoys me too. I wouldn’t bother with this one. Though it does make you appreciate Jenny’s stories all the more when you see the mess others make with vampire slash.
Cerisaye and I never collude with our reviews. We read, review and only then see what the other has thought. But this book made us send furious emails to each other. I think we’re both just thoroughly pissed off. If it was essentially bad, that would be something easy to say, and then the whole book could be dismissed. But it’s not. It’s got a fabulous premise: a hundred year old, beautiful, aristocratic vampire Jean-Luc Courbet (Jack) who is searching the world for the one perfect man to make his companion in eternity. Okay, all fans of Angel and Spike swoon at this point. Isn’t this the plot we’ve been looking for in a novel: oodles of vampire lore, gay sex on almost every page, dripping with culture and money…. So where has it all gone so wrong?
I actually think I’ve been had. I think I’ve just read the ranting of a homophobe disguised as a novel about a gay vampire.
Unlike Vampire Vow and Vampire Thrall, in this book you get to know each victim Jean-Luc selects. They are the heroes of all our other books: young gay men with passions and full of life and trying so hard to get by. One by one, Jean-Luc seduces and kills them. He needs blood to survive—literally to stop decomposing and stinking—and to get an erection. As he sucks their blood, he hardens and takes them. Sometimes he tortures them. Often, he desecrates the bodies. Sorry, I don’t want to read an endless account of the gruesome murders of men I like better than the creature killing them.
But even this could make a great book (see our reviews for Exquisite Corpse, where the main characters are utter monsters) if it had compensations, but even the descriptions of sex are risible. I wondered as I was reading one critical scene whether the author had done a creative writing class where the topic of the assignment was: describe a passionate sex scene without mentioning any part of the body, giving any indication of who was doing what to whom and using a different analogy for each sex act. Most of the sex is incomprehensible. You don’t believe me?
Voluptuous and hedonistic, the music does not just dance, but gives one to dance. It separates both Jack and XXXXX from themselves and re-establishes them as corporeal ideologies. It is the auditory equivalent of ambergris and clove. It imposes its theatricality, musty and earthbound, upon the lovers.
And where there is a bit of graphic description, it just seems to hit the wrong note. Do you find this sexy?
And Jack inserts himself into XXXX’s most private place, into an oven-hot pie of ripe olives and overripe peaches.
So, great, great premise that sucks you in but leaves you with a huge feeling of dissatisfaction.
I think the author dislikes gays (or at least their anonymous sex lifestyles), and he dislikes the “romanticism” of vampires that is frequently done by other writers (hey! Stop pointing that finger! Angel does love Spike!)
Am I a pissed-off writer of gay vampire romances? Yes, I think I am. I’m annoyed for Lord's readers who might try this novel and be put off vampire or slash stories for ever.
However, having said all this, I actually do recommend that you get hold of a copy of this novel and give it a go. It’s such an odd mix of great ideas and great vampire lore mixed with bizarre characterisation and writing that you will get something from it—if only the great ego boosting thought that you could do a damn sight better!
Published by Kensington Publishing Corporation. ISBN: 1575667649
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