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Walk Among Us: Compiled Edition (Vampire: The Masquerade) Kindle Edition
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About the Author
Cassandra Khaw is a scriptwriter at Ubisoft Montreal. Her fiction has been nominated for the Locus Award and the British Fantasy Award, and her game writing has won a German Game Award. You can find her short stories in places like F&SF, Lightspeed, and Tor.com. Her novella Nothing But Blackened Teeth is coming out from Nightfire, the new Tor horror imprint in 2021.
Genevieve Gornichec may have tried to major in Vikings when she was in college, but she's always had a special place in her heart for vampires. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, she now lives even deeper in the Midwest with her partner, several reptiles, and a very grumpy cat. Her full-length debut novel, The Witch's Heart, releases in early 2021.
Caitlin Starling is a writer and spreadsheet-wrangler who lives near Portland, Oregon. Equipped with an anthropology degree and an unhealthy interest in the dark and macabre, she writes horror-tinged speculative fiction of all flavors. The Luminous Dead is her first novel. --This text refers to the paperback edition.
- ASIN : B08GKQLF53
- Publisher : Harper Voyager; Combined edition (May 4, 2021)
- Publication date : May 4, 2021
- Language : English
- File size : 1180 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Not Enabled
- Print length : 439 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 0062994050
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #277,085 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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A Sheep Among Wolves - 4/5
It will be nearly impossible for me to "objectively" review this novella because of how unexpectedly close it hit to home. I have read several reviews that have criticized the novella's protagonist, Clea, as being a one-note character defined by her depression. A part of me feels that many of those reviews came from readers who themselves do not have depression, anxiety, or chronically low self-esteem, because as many people with mental illness know, on your worst days/weeks/months/years, you can very easily be defined by your mental illness. This is precisely what made Clea so relatable to me, as reading about her was like reading about myself in my teens through mid-twenties.
A Sheep Among Wolves tells the story of a freshman college student who is on a downswing of what she calls depression but very well may be Bipolar Disorder. She cannot make friends, she has no drive or ambition, and her routine mostly consists of fast food/takeout, doing everything she can to avoid socializing, sleeping way too much, and frequently skipping classes (presumably because of the two former "activities"). This being a vampire novella, Clea finds herself caught up in an increasingly bizarre situation that, if she does have Bipolar Disorder, pushes her into a manic episode. (The novella certainly fits a metaphor about living with Bipolar Disorder, anyway.)
This story will certainly not be for everyone. Readers who do not live with depression or depression-adjacent mental illnesses may find Clea unrelatable, frustrating, or even a bit boring. For someone like me who lives with depression, has severe social anxiety, and struggled for over a decade with extreme low self-esteem, I was so shook that I literally had to put off doing anything for an entire night and just watch comedy shows to decompress. Just like with her debut novel, The Witch's Heart, Genevieve Gornichec found a way to drill down to the core of my soul and leave me a bit of a mess. Only this time I was not prepared for it.
All that being said, the novella is not perfect. Like many, I found the antagonist (of sorts), a bully whose constant target for abuse is Clea, a bit too exaggerated, and the actual vampiric elements almost feel like an afterthought. I could not help but feel like this story would have been better served in its own universe, unbeholden to the lore of its source material. However, I appreciated the ending for the questionable note it ends on, offering a tantalizing topic of discussions for readers willing to dissect Gornichec's intent. To avoid spoilers, I will refrain from sharing my interpretation.
Fine Print - N/A
Loathe as I am to abandon a story mid-way through, I will be honest and admit that I did not read this novella all the way through. Cassandra Khaw's prose is elegant and provocative, but due to my general indifference toward vampires, and because I could not personally connect with the protagonist or sympathize with his motives, I found myself unable to stick with it. Therefore, it will not be considered in my overall rating. However, if vampires are your thing or you appreciate highly-driven but morally bankrupt protagonists, I would still recommend this novella.
The Land of Milk and Honey - 4/5
Caitlin Starling has proven herself among my favorite horror authors, and The Land of Milk and Honey only further solidifies her as an author consistently on my radar. This novella tells the story of a vampire running a farm that harvests blood from humans in an effort to feed vampires without having to actually kill humans. It is a welcome twist on the age-old vampire mythos and challenges the reader with ethical quandaries.
While I did at times struggle with this story due to what I felt was missing context (being unfamiliar with the source material, as I am), Starling's signature development of the novella's core characters, Leigh and Robin, kept me engaged enough until the final third of the novella, where the intrigue significantly ramps up. Despite those contextual issues early on, by the end, it is the characters that matter, and Leigh's struggle with her own emotions and desires—elements not too often explored among vampires—is deliciously captivating. Like A Sheep Among Wolves, it ends on a high note, though for entirely different reasons that, again, I will not spoil here.
If you are a fan of WoD/VtM, I honestly do not know if this compilation is worth checking out. If you are a fan of stories that explore depression/Bipolar Disorder, loneliness, self-doubt, the manner in which our emotions can impede our personal goals, highly ambitious characters, and deep character relationships, there is plenty to enjoy here.
Walk Among Us is a compilation of three novellas that are excellent overall, with the caveat that these are NOT happy-go-lucky, the good guy wins in the end, the princess is saved, etc., stories. They are dark tales with dark endings. I'm not sure why this is so...one can easily make a dark horror tale without having the main characters getting dumped on. Ah well. The voice actors are spot on and well-suited for their roles. I have minimal complaints and recommend this audio-book for any Vampire: The Masquerade--or even just plain old vampire--fans out there. What follows is a spoiler-free review for each of the three tales. Note: While I nitpick the stories, my opinion remains positive overall--it's just that it's hard to go into the positives without revealing spoilers.
This is a great tale hobbled only by its ending. Many--if not most--stories try to have a surprise ending and this story is no different. The only problem is that the surprise herein is contrived and seemingly exists only for the purpose of being a surprise. Still a great yarn though. This tale is also unique in that it's the only one that ends on a positive'ish note--the only two novellas are definitely personal horror. Overall, this is my fav story of the three, but only because of the positive'ish ending (what can I say, I like seeing the main character win).
This is another great tale, however the author is somewhat in love with her own voice--it takes one or two paragraphs to say something when one sentence would've sufficed. It got bad enough that I found myself setting the audio-book to 1.5 times speed periodically, just to hurry through the prose. Another nitpick is that the main character is generally an unlikable bastard. This makes the ending have a little less oomph than it might otherwise have had, because I simply didn't care that much about him one way or the other. All that said, those are minor nitpicks. On another note, this story is definitely the most elegant of the three--that is to say, the prose is the most sophisticated and poetic (for lack of a better word). This is an author in his/her prime. One major pro is that--of the three novellas--this tale's ending didn't feel forced or contrived... It was a natural progression of events. An excellent story and the one I find myself still thinking about, months later.
This might have been my favorite story, except for the ending. Like Story 1, it felt contrived. In order for it to end as it did, a huge number of things had to have worked out perfectly. In reality, if a character here or there had done ANYTHING differently, the whole plot would've unraveled. Not sure if that makes sense, but I'm avoiding spoilers. Also, the tone of the ending left me, well, a little depressed. Then again, I'm not a huge fan of personal horror stories and this was definitely a personal horror story. Barring that, the story was great, the prose was great, and the narrator of the audiobook was--mostly--great. Unfortunately she had a tendency to use the same voice for the main character, an important character, and the general narration. This made for some confusion at times as to who was saying what. A minor quibble, but hey.
All in all, this is a solid entry in the vampiric literary universe.