Kim Catanzarite’s Staked poses an intriguing question for readers of vampire fiction: What if the vampire in question was both angelic and monstrous simultaneously?
Staked’s vampire is Gregorie Babin, who approaches life (or afterlife) like a philosopher. “He didn’t sleep just like he didn’t breathe,” the author writes. “That’s why he feared he was dead. But he wasn’t dead, was he? He was still thinking and moving, still remembering.”
Gregorie, born in the 1700s in a small fishing village in France, was confined in his “shell”— a trunk-like container on the ocean’s floor—for centuries. He suddenly awakes from a deep slumber and swims ashore to New England’s Wodge Island. After drinking a dying deer’s blood, he encounters three 20-something vagabonds living in a bus—Liam, Paul and Benicia—who introduce him to the modern age.
As Gregorie grows stronger, he slowly remembers who he was, and the novel alternates chapters between modern times and Gregorie’s memories of living in Saint-Suliac with his mother, the village healer. In assisting his mom in her healing work, he learns he has power to help those who are stuck crossing over to the afterlife (his mother calls him an “angel of death”). Gregorie is a good person, despite being a vampire —but when he encounters his evil maker Reynaud in the modern age, his reckoning with him propels the plot.
Catanzarite’s prose is evocative, almost lyrical at times as she weaves a tale of two different centuries. Under her skilled storytelling, suspense builds as Gregorie remembers how he came to be a vampire. She also delivers superb descriptions: “A brisk breeze slid down the dunes, and he sensed something indescribable that seized his attention. And now he moved in that direction without thought, losing control of the horrible wanting, knowing he would go wherever it led him.”
Fans of vampire fiction, particularly those who enjoyed The Historian, will delight in Gregoire’s journey and eagerly anticipate his next adventure.
Also available as an ebook.