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Vampire Junction

Novel by S P Somtow (Thailand) 1984.

Constructed in a cinematic style, in sections sorted as to flashbacks, memories and changes in perspective, all headed by leitmotifs; with recurrent themes and imagery in abundance; and based on certain Jungian philosophical problems, this certainly isn't the easist read; but Somtow Sucharitkul, Thai-born writer, composer and conductor, under his pseudonym of 'S P Somtow', has produced an ambitious work which is a triumph in every sense.

Timmy Valentine, two thousand year old vampire and 'young' rock star brings Carla Rubens to his house to act as his full-time therapist. Meanwhile Carla's estranged husband, semi-famous conductor and reformed pyromaniac, Stephen Miles, is taking part in a reunion of the Gods of Chaos. These were a group of influential Cambridge students who blackmailed him into joining them in a satanic ritual, in which they sacrificed a young girl in the hopes of summoning up some sort of presence. But though no presence appeared, Timmy Valentine in his 1918 persona, did. Sixty years on, for various reasons, they all want to finish what they think they started.

About a third of the way into Vampire Junction, Timmy says, "- in this story, the word 'junction' seems to mean a thousand things"; and it does: not just the song that launches his career and the name of the town he moves to, it is also his house and his very person (the junction of love and death), among other concepts, all of which are tied into a toy train metaphor. Dreams and thoughts are presented as they happen: disjointed, repetitious and following their own rules of logic, leading to a sometimes hallucinatory read. It is a book about the power of faith, the misconceptions of belief (Lisa, who believes in the literal reality of television, and Gilles de Rais (Bluebeard himself) who comes to believe that after Jeanne d'Arc only the good are killed and thus dedicates himself to evil) and the dangerous nature of insight.

Borrowing the child vampire concept from Interview with a Vampire; and the idea of vampires growing compassionate for their food, thus leading to therapy, from The Vampire Tapestry; but predating The Vampire Lestat in the use of the undead rock star: as a complete work, it is all that The Vampire Tapestry tried and failed to be. Perhaps its greatest success and its strongest recommendation is that in a book filled with horror - castration, murder, rape, child abuse and ever more sickening depths of depravity - it emerges as a work of beauty. The sort of book worth reading more than once, it should not be missed. Sucharitkul returned to his ageless character in Valentine (1992).


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