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I've already reviewed the two stories that are in second and third place here, "Mantequero" and "Disappeared." I then read "Sins of the Father," and had begun to write a review of it in which I begged the author to add an introductory tale and a final section. So imagine my surprise when I stumbled across this book and discovered she'd already done just that!
The mantequero is a legendary Spanish vampire… or sort of a vampire. But where the middle-European vampire drains the blood of the living, the mantequero drains the living person's body of… fat. The word "mantequero," according to my Spanish/English dictionary, translates as something like "dairyman" or "butter merchant." Yes, this seems a rather bizarre sort of legend. Anyone who's ever read "Dracula" knows "the blood is the life," whereas, at least in our own time, fat is something most of us feel we'd be better off without. However, it should be noted and remembered that in medieval times, right up to the middle 20th century in fact, fat people were considered attractive, and for good reason. A stocky young man with plenty of meat on his bones was a strong, healthy man, capable of hard work; a plump, well-rounded woman was beautiful, healthy, well-suited for work herself, and for child-bearing. Poor people who didn't get enough to eat were thin. Fat equaled prosperity and good humor; a thin man might be frail and weak, and a thin woman was puny, scrawny, easily tired, perhaps bad-tempered and mean. Skinniness equaled delicacy, weakness, and often disease, especially when one of the most feared diseases was tuberculosis. When there was a season of bad weather and poor crops, people were likely to lose weight, and only those who had plenty of weight to begin with could afford to lose some of it. The introductory tale in this book, "The First Mantequero," reminds us of these things. When losing weight – losing fat – is to be in real danger of starvation, a vampire who drains your body of fat will be a terrifying monster. And the Mantequero here is indeed terrifying.
So, has the mantequero legend survived into the 21st century? Apparently it has, but only just barely. This may be partly because our ideas of attractiveness have changed, and this, too, is reflected in "Tales of the Mantequero" – especially in "The Last Mantequero" section, which I found surprising and also, as it ended, quite funny.
Altogether, this is a very entertaining and frequently very moving read. Have I mentioned that Jenny Twist writes like an angel? She does.
The Mantequero is not your average vampire. This Spanish lad is surely handsome and just as evil as vampires come, yet, instead of sucking blood, he sucks the fat of beautiful young girls. He picks the plump ones and loves them, entering their bedroom through their open window at night and carries on until they’re dead; a mere carcass of skin and bones.
Although I am not a fan of horror, this delightful compilation of novellas on the subject has thrilled and enchanted me. Jenny Twist sure has a gift of delivering compelling prose and vibrant descriptions that transport you to the lush mountainsides of Spain, leaving you to roam the streets of ancient villages at dusk, full of trepidation over the damned creature lurking in the shadows.
It was hard to pick a favorite among these stories but I’ll tell you this: they seem to mature and improve as the story progresses. The author first wrote “Mantequero”, then “Disappeared” and the rest of the tales came under the pressure of her fans pushing for a sequel. The more the author imagined, the darker the story got, but at the same time the characters grew deeper and more involved with this evil creature.
It’s odd actually, because althrough this is a set of novellas written in different times, each one in itself complete, this book reads like a single novel separated by chapters. It has a beginning, a middle and an end, and the author’s had one after another brilliant idea to keep the story going, all the more heightening the fascination and the horror in the mind of the reader.
I did pick a favorite among these novellas in the end; it’s “Sins of the Father”. It was the darkest of them all and the one that had me turning the pages at my most thirsty. Having said that, be warned: your reading pleasure will be ruined if you pick to read these stories out of sequence. Instead of buying any of the earlier novellas separately, pick out this specific publication and find out all about the Mantequero by reading it as a novel like I did. By the last page, chances are you’ll be feeling the same: detached from reality and tingly all over, overwhelmed by the thrilling, magical journey in rural Spain that this author has granted you. Well done, Jenny Twist!
This book is a compilation of the three Mantequero stories:
Mantequero, Disappeared and Sins of the Father.
The Mantequero is an urban legend In Spain. He is noted to be a "Modern Day Vampire" possibly a serial killer. Not much is known about him, but in this fascinating, chilling, thrilling story we get to meet The Mantequero. A fantastic spin on modern day Vampires. Truly brilliant!
June Blacker is a language teacher loved by her students. June is very fat and feels because of this she will never find a man, and love.
But then she meets Ignacio. Ignacio thinks she is beautiful. And a strange thing happens to June. She starts tolose a lot of weight. Could Ignacio be The Mantequero?
Miss Blacker never returned from her Christmas vacation. Allison is convinced something really bad has happened to her. Allison and her friend Heather take off to Spain to see if they can find her. Once there they hear of a legend of the Mantequero, a vampire type creature in Spain. Will the ladies find their friend?
Sins of the Father:
Rupert is having disturbing and very strange dreams About his dead father. In his dreams his father is a dark, shadowy figure who preys on people while they sleep.
Rupert knows nothing about him, his Mother refuses to talk about his Father. When he meets Samantha they decide to find out what happened and try to find his father.
*This book was given to me as a gift