Vampire Vow - Michael Schiefelbein

Ladymol's Review:

I'm going to come clean and admit that I'm writing this review after too much wine. But that's this book. That's how it made me feel. I'm entranced and in love with the characters and the setting and the story… but, oh, what a wicked book!

We've reviewed serial killers. We've reviewed incest. But this is something more shocking than all of that. This challenges the fundamental beliefs you grew up with. This has the heat of hell's flame licking at your heels as you read it. It's blasphemy in a world where I thought blasphemy was a just a difficult word to spell. I'm shocked but drawn in at the same time. I want to recommend this so highly to you, but don't want to damn your immortal soul too!

Victor, a Centurion officer is posted to Galilee. He meets a young man Joshu and falls in love: a love that is to last two thousand years, for Joshu has another agenda-he is to become Jesus-the son of God. Victor, to escape the pain of not possessing this ragged, Jewish boy, takes another path and embraces the Dark Realm, becoming a vampire.

There is no doubt about Jesus. He is the risen God. But his is not the only path, or the only salvation. Victor's realm is just a seductive and powerful, and he will attain it after wandering the earth as a vampire and finding the one true companion he can turn and take to eternity with him.

Haunted by his unrequited love for Joshu, Victor sets out to destroy every trace of the God that Joshu chose over him: joining monasteries as a brother who cannot tolerate sunlight due to a rare skin condition, and then proceeding to destroy every monk within the confines of the religious order. A predator of men, he takes the young and innocent before he destroys them all.

With power over men's dreams and desires, immortal, driven by the need for blood, Victor is a startling and seductive creation. He takes the weak: cripples in their wheelchairs, the elderly and defenceless, children in their beds, but for all this, we desperately want him to survive. Seduction is a two-way thing. He seduces his victims and, in doing so, seduces us.

I was so fortunate to have the sequel to this book to hand (Vampire Thrall) and how apt a title. I am enthralled. You will be too.

This is the best book I've read for a very long time. I'm green with envy, and without being totally pompous, if you've ever liked my stories, I guarantee you will love these books.

I'm in love.

I'll burn in hell, but it'll be worth it.

Cerisaye's Review:

'I wanted Jesus.'

It's hard to imagine a more provocative beginning to a gay themed novel. I read this book half expecting to be struck down by lightning. Am I bad for enjoying that illicit thrill? In which case trying to persuade you out there to enjoy it with me probably condemns me to the fiery pit for sure. Hey ho, off we go then…

Some readers, though presumably not those like you sufficiently enlightened to be reading on Jenny's slash vampire site, might find the novel blasphemous and deeply offensive. Consider this your final warning. If you have religious sensibilities this one should definitely not be on your reading list.

It apparently caused a storm of protest from the Christian right when it was published, featuring as it does a sexy, sensual -and gay- Jesus, a flesh and blood adolescent not an icon. Homophobia nearly cost the author his job at a Catholic college. To focus on religious controversy, however, would be misleading and unfair to a novel that's literary, imaginative and a great read.

I guess it's fair to assume all of us here share an obsession with vampires. Well, this is no ordinary vampire story. You'll find no Gothic, romanticised vamps, with or without souls. I've never read anything like it before. I whizzed through, gorging on every blood splattered page, revelling in its depth, sensuality and graphic gay sex. Joss, eat your heart out!

Victor Decimus is a Roman soldier serving under Pontius Pilate in Palestine. Manly, tanned and muscled, he's a real Italian stallion. Victor meets and falls madly in love with a young Jewish boy who likes to go running naked on a hillside above the Sea of Gallilee. Joshu (Jesus) loves the Roman, but he loves his God more. Though sorely tempted, ultimately Joshu rejects the soldier. Devastated, in his rage Victor embarks upon an orgy of violence directed against women and boys. When it looks as though he's about to be captured by Pilate's soldiers, Victor embraces the darkness, becoming a vampire, thanks to a mysterious Egyptian seer. He vows bloody vengeance against the God who took his lover from him into the light..

Fast forwarding through 2,000 years, we find Victor hiding in the remote seclusion of an Appalachian monastery. There he meets Michael, who becomes the focus of his search for a lover to replace Joshu and share eternity in the Dark Kingdom. This he describes to Michael as Rome returned to its former glory, where he expects to live with his chosen companion laughing, making love, feasting and generally living like a God, far removed from the Christian concept of Heaven. The monastic background has real authenticity as the author spent ten years training for the priesthood. The book has a spiritual aspect to it that adds depth though sometimes interrupts the flow of the story.

I fell in love with Victor, who by rights is a monster who ought to repel. He's utterly ruthless, completely amoral, brutal and cruel. He comes from a world where it was public entertainment to watch men fight with lions to the death. He is passionate and uses sex as a weapon, both to assert his power and in his personal vendetta against the Church. Never mind the blasphemy. There are far more shocking scenes in the book detailing Victor's many innocent victims, including children and the elderly, all innocents. This story drips blood and gore, and is not for the sensitive. I think it shows quality of writing that Victor despite his flaws attracts our sympathy. We want him to survive and for Michael to choose him not God.

Homosexual love lies at the heart of the book. Victor is looking for a way out of the existence he has endured alone for so long. But it's not easy. Joshu appears in visions, tempting Victor to join him in the light. There's real suspense and intrigue that keeps you turning the pages to find out whether Victor evades the authorities and finds that elusive eternal happiness with Michael.

Rich and satisfying, a book that lives up to its gorgeous cover. Highly recommended to those who like complex gay vampires, sex and romance, and don't object to shockingly graphic violence. There is a sequel, Vampire Thrall.

Publisher: Alyson Publications ISBN: 1555835864

Buy it from Amazon UK HERE

Or from Amazon USA here: