Author: Lev Raphael
Genre: Fiction (Historical / New York City / Gilded Age / 20th Century / Vampires / Widower / Sex)
Publisher/Publication Date: Amazon Digital (6/2012)
Source: Pump Up Your Book!
Did I finish?: I did, very quickly!
One-sentence summary: A Jewish widower in Gilded Age New York loses himself in sex, and then blood, when a chance meeting changes him to a Vampyre.
Reading Challenges: E-books, Historical Fiction
Do I like the cover?: No -- it looks like an ad for a CW tv show.
First line: As usual since his wife Florence had died, and their newborn son along with her, Rosedale passed most of the day in a state of agitation.
Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Buy if you like quicky paranormal fiction with a sense of mood.
Why did I get this book?: While not a huuuuge vampire fan, I am a Gilded Age fangirl, so I had to see if it would work.
Review: Interestingly enough, I think this book is a kind of supernatural sequel (or perhaps, an alternative-universe re-imagining) to the author's previous novel, Rosedale in Love -- Raphael's take on Wharton's The House of Mirth, from the viewpoint of Simon Rosedale, Jewish financier and suitor to the haughty Lily Bart.
I don't think one needs to be familiar with either Rosedale in Love or The House of Mirth to enjoy this novella; the story here is really about a Gilded Age widower's descent into depravity, first through sex and then through blood lust. In a brief 75ish pages, Raphael hints at a fascinating vampire mythology -- Jewish vampires have powers that other vampires don't -- and creates a kind of anti-hero who feels unappealing and likable in equal part. Not much happens in this novella, other than Rosedale's turning, but Raphael sets up an interesting supernatural universe, and it seems he has two more novellas in the works. (This makes me happy.)
The style of the story is very florid, like a pot boiler, Sheridan Le Fanu, or The Monk, and while at times it verged almost on purple, overall, I liked the ornate prose. (My vocab certainly expanded!) Raphael deals with sex more than his early 20th century counterparts and while he doesn't explicitly describe it, it's not obfuscated, so the squeamish might want to pass. I enjoyed the tawdry.
If you like supernatural, or historical supernatural, this is a great easy piece to snack on, especially during the hectic holiday season. Disappear and enjoy a little debauchery!