Review: Vampires Don’t Sleep Alone, by Elizabeth Barrial & D.H. Altair

Vampires Don’t Sleep Alone: Your Guide to Meeting, Dating, and Seducing a Vampire
Elizabeth Barrial & D.H. Altair
Urban Fantasy/Self-Help
June 2010
Ulysses Press
221 pages

Have you ever wondered about the best way to go about getting that hunky immortal lover? Wanted to understand how vampires think, so that you can find your forever love with one? Thought that the people dressed in goth chic, hoping to entice a centuries-old blood sucker, were going about it the wrong way? This guide might be for you.

The conceit here is that vampires are not only real, but out and known in the world, and mostly accepted. The authors writing this self-help vampire dating guide are quite good friends, it seems, with several members of homo striga and have an intimate knowledge of what it takes to attract, date, and permanently land your dream vampire. It is broken down into three parts: Your Introduction to Vampires: What You Need to Know; How to Date a Vampire: The Etiquette and the Information; and Romancing and Bedding a Vampire: The Art of Eternal Seduction. Each part is divided further into chapters, which address a specific aspect of dating and seducing a vampire.

Much of the advice given here is simply good dating advice, whether one is pursing a vampire or a human: Be yourself. Don’t put on airs. Explore dating opportunities with those who share your interests. Don’t bring up former lovers or romances while out on a date. Seriously consider how much of your date’s past you actually want to know. Make a break up as honest and clean as possible. Of the vampire-specific advice given, there are tips on befriending Renfield to get to Dracula (so to speak), how to avoid having “the chase” turn into you becoming prey, what to do if your friends start turning into your vampire’s food,  what scents vampires find attractive, and how to break up with a vampire without resorting to stakes.

With Vampires Don’t Sleep Alone being written as a dating guide, it doesn’t flow as a novel does, which made it easy for me to set down, even though I found the writing clever. The authors are keen to educate their readers not only in the way to go about landing that dream vampire (without becoming food), but in vampire physiology, lore, and history.

There are numerous references to vampire literature, be it short stories, novels, or poetry. It is a veritable reading list for the vampire enthusiast, including Hume Nisbet’s “The Vampire Maid” (1900) and Le Fanu’s Carmilla (1872). Also listed are Nancy A. Collins’ Sunglasses After Dark, Nancy Baker’s A Terrible Beauty, and the Count Saint Germaine series by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and many others not listed here. I appreciated these touches into vampire literature outside the usual pop-culture references of Stoker, Rice, Whedon, and Meyer.

The physical changes vampires undergo when they move from homo sapien to homo strigia–and the physiological strengths and weaknesses of vampires–are treated in a clinical, reserved manner. This seems a deliberate effort to un-romanticize the vampire,  presumably to keep the hopeful reader from being unrealistic and melodramatic about what the vampires have gone through and what they experience now as a separate species.

This is a fun read, very smart, witty,and unafraid to poke at recent vampire pop culture. *cough*Twilight*cough* I think readers who are already interested in vampire fiction and lore will love this. I like to think that everyone will appreciate the gentle pokes at vampire pop culture, and the subcultures of vampire veneration. The voices of the advice-dispensing narrators are a perfect balance of informative, educated (they do not avoid technical terminology or thesaurus-friendly, multi-syllabic words), and cautionary. It is a slim volume that was entertaining, but did not capture and hold my interest the way a good novel can. I ended up reading this in small sections at a time, here and there, rather than in one fell swoop. So, though it is not long, it took me a while to work my way through. I liked Vampires Don’t Sleep Alone, and found it to be an enjoyable and entertaining read, but wasn’t bowled over by it.

You can find Elizabeth Barrial on Twitter, or possibly her company’s Website, Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. D.H. Altair can be found at his company’s Website, Dark Delicacies.

Full disclosure on how I came by this book: I borrowed it from a friend, who is friendly with, I believe, one or both of the authors.

About Jessica

Dork extraordinaire, that's me! An unhealthy knowledge of Star Trek, a love of books, a fondness for purring cats.
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