(Roc, US $5.99 / Canada $8.99, 376 pages, paperback; 2003.)
Most contemporary stories about vampires and vampire hunters have been
urban fantasy, set in some analog of conventional reality. This one
isn't. It takes place in a world where superstition blurs the boundaries
vampires and vampire hunters. This one isn't. Or at least, it doesn't
start out that way ...
and falsehood. Most contemporary stories are also about
Magiere and her half-elven partner Leesil have spent the last several
years working as charlatans, fleecing ignorant villagers. Leesil pretends
to be a vampire; Magiere pretends to kill him in a spectacular public
fight; then they collect the money and skedaddle to the next target
village. But Magiere is getting tired of this life. Without warning
Leesil, she buys a tavern with her savings and intends to leave behind
the whole "hunter" mystique.
The past, however, is not so easily set aside ... and there is more
to Magiere, Leesil, and their dog Chap than any of them have told each
other. More, in fact, than they may know themselves. Just when things
are supposed to be settling down, life and death get a lot more complicated.
What do you do when a lie becomes the truth? This novel is a fascinating
exploration of interpersonal dynamics. It takes a hard look at how people
deal with each other's quirks and secrets, the process of personal growth
and discovery, the ways in which we may disappoint ourselves or others.
It ranges from internal debates to relationships between individuals
to the more complex dance of fitting individuals into a town. The sociological
and psychological aspects of this story are well-developed and fascinating,
almost enough to overshadow the dark fantasy elements. But those elements
are what throw the character changes into sharp relief.
Dhampir draws from diverse genres, giving it appeal for fans
of dark fantasy, horror, even mystery. The romance thread is more subtle
but still present. If you like things like Laurell K. Hamilton's "Anita
Blake" series, you'll love this.
Review by Elizabeth Barrette.