oracne - Victoria Janssen (oracne) wrote,
oracne - Victoria Janssen


The first of the recent trade paperback erotica novels I read, back a few months ago, was Joey Hill's The Vampire Queen's Servant, but since I promptly lent the book out, I didn't do a writeup. The quick version is that this was a good book, but it was not for me.

See, I don't like vampires, or rather, I don't like the idea of vampires. This, you will note, does not stop me from reading vamprie novels. The heart of my dislike is vampires killing humans for their own eternal life; secondarily, the way certain types of vampires treat humans as food only. Most contemporary vampire fiction elides this or, better, creates their own lore so that their hero/heroine is not a murderer. I like that type much better; for instance, it doesn't seem so awful to me if a vampire feeds on their lover in small amounts, giving pleasure or psychic strength or something in return. All of the vampire books I've liked have either mutuality (P.N. Elrod), vampires as a separate species who don't need human blood (J.R. Ward, except I get annoyed that their blood-partner must be of the opposite sex), or vampires who are evil because they kill (Barbara Hambly).

The Joey Hill novel thus had strikes against it because of my personal tastes. The vampires are a separate species, but they must kill a human once a year, and it cannot be an "evil" human. This makes no sense unless it's magical; I dealt with it for the length of the novel by deciding this could change in the course of the series of books, as it was clear something was changing among the vampire community, and there were hints about something being different about this particular pair of vampire and human--the vampire has a strange illness that possibly was linked to her human servants (my speculation).

The novel setup has an ancient, powerful female vampire who rules the vampire community in a section of the United States. The vampires in this book feed from human companions who are ultra-loyal and also ultra-subordinate. In exchange, the human servants receive longer lifespans, psychic bonding with their master or mistress, and improved physicality. Lyssa, the vampire queen, has been without a servant since the death of her husband (loss of both is a big plot point). Jacob was trained by her exiled servant and sent to Lyssa after the exiled servant's death. He is not subordinate, though he swears his loyalty and desire to be her servant. This makes for lots of nice tension, as Lyssa wants to dominate him. They negotiate what "servant" means for the whole book.

This book was clearly not for me, though. It was hard for me to see the appeal of constant battles for dominance, especially when Lyssa's behavior towards Jacob for most of the novel is patronizing; even when she has private thoughts of wanting to have a more equal relationship with him, they don't come out very much; change is just emerging towards the end. I can see the appeal of her attitudes gradually changing, but I didn't want to slog through her vampiric arrogance to get there. I liked the idea but not the execution. I just didn't like Lyssa that much.

I dislike reading about Alphas, whether vampires, werewolves, or the Duke of Dick. I'd thought an Alpha woman would be different, but I reacted the same. The very fact that I had so strong a reaction tells me that readers who do like that sort of thing might like this book very much. The dominance and submission aspects were complex and constantly shifting; I was engaged enough to finish the book, regardless of my own tastes, and as you can see, it generated a lot of thought.

I did like the prose, which was very readable and nicely lush.

Tags: erotica, reviews

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