Thursday, December 29, 2011

Book Review: The Cliff Road Chronicles: Tales of the Brotherhood of Darkness

The Cliff Road Chronicles: Tales of the Brotherhood of Darkness
Anne Fraser
© 2011
By Light Unseen Media

‘Lo Peoples,

Her Tangh-i-ness has returned with more substantial, decidedly non-Twillight vampire fare.

Between the time the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie came out in 1992, and when the Buffy the Vampire TV series launched in 1997 to address the movie’s oversights in characterization, Anne Fraser came up with her own take on friendship amongst the supernatural. 17 short stories later, she celebrated the lives and loves of a gay vampire couple and their vampiric, magical, immortal, and lycanthropic friends located somewhere in Fletcherville, Maine. I bring up mention of Buffy purely because Anne Fraser also masters the delicate balancing act of handling an ensemble cast that could easily be overshadowed by its principals.

I’ve been told I started backwards. I first read All Places That Are Not Heaven by Anne Fraser the same authoress as in The Cliff Road Chronicles. That was the previous review. For my own twisted reasons, I remain enamored of All Places That Are Not Heaven and its antihero. So I allowed life to intrude when reading The Cliff Road Chronicles. I simply felt loath to establish a new bond with Fraser’s intended vampire hero: Gideon Redoak.

However, I eventually found that I regretted my procrastination. As one reads deeper into the short story collection there is meat here. (Yes, Her Tangh-i-ness is aware of the clunk of that particular metaphor when discussing vampires.) But I mean that the stories in The Cliff Road Chronicles ponder not only what true love is but how does one act when love requires action? How does a vampire in love reconcile the specter of human death while remaining involved with that human? Does a brutally abused Dark magician remain one forever? Can vampires grow and change with the times? What do the broken-hearted or aimless undead do with themselves? And most importantly, when did Fairy Godmothers start blowing clove smoke and sporting PVC skirts?

Ahhh. Another writer who enjoys the inclusion of wicked humor along with the darker moments, inclusion of LGBTQ/People of Color characters and a grounded romantic approach. My must-reads in The Cliff Road Chronicles include: Return to Red Oak Hall, A Gay Old Time, Reprise, To Burn in Hell, Lost Boy, Fairy Godmother, Mistress Estrella and Follow that Falcon! Mind you, these stories are primarily non-erotic but feature occasional, brief, tasteful adult passages involving references to gay and straight love-making. Her Tangh-i-ness is a supporter of the Erotic in literature.

Note: This copy of All Places That Are Not Heaven was an electronic edition acquired from an editor upon the reviewer's request. Her Tangh-i-ness usually reviews on a for-the-love basis. No lucre has been involved.

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