“On the Soul of a Vampire is an impressive debut novel for such a young author; one can almost believe that she was born in her main characters' time period and knows them and their surroundings intimately. That's the depth of writing and characterization that author Krisi Keley manages to convey in this intriguing work.
In Keley's Amazon description, she says: "For some it takes a lifetime to discover their raison d'être. Imagine searching for eight centuries. In 1997 Philadelphia, 800-year-old vampire Valéry Castellane comes face to face with his reason to be, in the person of Angelina Lacroix, a young mortal woman whose understanding of immortality is about to change all he's known as truth and which will take him and his readers on a journey into the human soul..."
This book gripped me from the beginning as Keley describes in a unique, archaic prose how Valery discovers Angelina, stalks her and finally confronts her...and Keley does it in the Vampire Valery's voice, never faltering with her word choices throughout. What a lilting, poetic accomplishment!
I have read many vampire books--from teens lusting after vamps to the original "vamp in bat form visiting the lovely damsel in the dark of night"--but none has impressed me like this one. Those others were rather "campy" and read for entertainment, while this one is unique and definitely food for thought.
In On the Soul of a Vampire, Valery is stunned that a mortal girl knows all about him and he becomes obsessed with learning more about her and how she acquired her knowledge of centuries-old happenings. Through a series of guarded questions and even more guarded answers that continue throughout the book, the reader learns some of the secrets at the same time Valery does.
From their first meeting, Valery desires Angelina more than he's ever desired anyone or anything, and it's obvious she has "loved" him all her life. At first he thinks he'll turn her into a vampire and/or kill her as he has so many others, but soon learns he can't harm her in any way. Valery is frustrated by sensing that he will never be able to...
Angelina does not fear him at all, which further mystifies this complex vampire. She makes it clear that Valery is her life purpose and her trust in him is boundless.
Angelina is such a mystery to him that he has to confide in someone, so goes to his long-time friend, a vampire that he had "turned" and lived to regret it. Valery has "good" and "bad" vampire friends and foes who plan to destroy Angelina for various reasons.
What follows are theological discussions and visions that delve into the souls of the vampires and the humans, their relationship with God and their deepest desires.
Just who is Angelina? What's her connection to Valery and why is she focused on him? How does she know all about vampires and their ancient history? Why can't any of them harm her? And who is the lovely lady (an apparition?) in a corner of Valery's childhood bedroom as his mother ministers to him when he's deathly ill? How does the lady help him then? And does she figure in his current situation?
But most important, what is the internal battle waging inside all these mortals and vampires?
Author Keley answers most of those questions brilliantly in the first book of this series and is currently working on books two and three. She's always been intrigued with supernatural, paranormal and horror fiction and how these myths try to answer humankind's questions about the spiritual, good vs. evil and the nature of man. So expect more new theories about both vampires and the human soul from this well-educated writer and artist who has a degree in Theology and education in foreign and classical languages.
I eagerly anticipate learning more about vampires from Keley's next books. I heartily recommend this intriguing book, even if it did make me think deeper than I normally wish to. In fact, if there's one shortcoming in the book, it's that Angelina and Valery tend to dance around each other when answering questions, taking longer than I think necessary before giving a satisfactory answer...but that's their polite, cautious way and fits the characters' backgrounds and intentions... The fault is mine, not the author's.
Reviewed by Betty Dravis, September 21, 2010
Author of "Dream Reachers" (with Chase Von) and other books ”
BettyDravis wrote this review Saturday, November 27, 2010.