The Horror Zine Review
Worth Their Weight in Blood
by Carole Jahme
|Paperback: 344 pages
Publisher: Mira Books (April 1, 2012)
Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.7 x 1.3 inches
Worth Their Weight in Blood
by Carole Jahme
Review by Dr. Kevin Hillman
It’s difficult to come up with a new twist on the vampire tale, but Carole Jahme has done it. They’re still vampires but they are not undead. You can still be turned into one but you don’t have to die first. Most unusually of all, some vampires aren’t actually intent on biting anyone. They need blood, but they have found a way to get it without the whole fangs and neck thing.
The main character, Scarlet, does not believe in vampires. There are points in the book where you’ll find yourself screaming at her “Can’t you see it? It’s obvious!” but this isn’t set in the superstitious Middle Ages. It’s 1990, in a small town in England. The sort of town where the most exciting thing that happens is rivalry between neighbours or a cat going missing. A place and time where vampires exist only in movies and books, where nobody sees ghosts and nobody believes in the supernatural at all. Yes, the clues are there for the reader throughout the story but that main character doesn’t see them. She reads books like ‘The Selfish Gene’ and studies evolution. To her, everything has a rational explanation.
She rationalises away the menacing stranger and the creepy child, the unusual family and the bizarre deaths. She accepts the explanation given by her new employers for the facility being open only at night. Even when she interrupts a ritual, she still cannot believe what she sees. These days, what rational 20th-century scientist could? I found the character’s denial of what is obvious to the reader perfectly realistic. We know we’re reading a vampire story. She doesn’t know she’s in one—well, not until later.
Eventually the true nature of the vampires becomes clear. The townspeople rise up against them but not because they are vampires. Nobody in the town has realised what they are. No, they are angry about something else entirely and have no idea what they are up against.
No silver bullets, no stakes, not a crucifix in sight. No castle in the mountains and nobody asleep in a coffin. These vampires are still killed by sunlight, still have superhuman abilities and don’t cast a reflection in a mirror, but they have come a long way since the Hammer Films days. They still have foul tempers when roused, naturally.
I only have one complaint. There are a few typos in the book and although they are very few, the quality of the writing makes their impact all the harder. I’d find myself immersed entirely in the story, only to be sent crashing out of it by a simple typo. The sort of thing a half-decent editor or proofreader should have picked up. This is a hefty book at over 340 pages and yet I am sure that if those typos weren’t there, it’s a book you’d find yourself putting down, finished, at 4 am.
The writing is excellent. The premise is new. The interactions between Scarlet and her family, friends and new employers are absolutely realistic. The vampires, both the ‘good’ ones and the bad ones, are well drawn and there are hints of social commentary in the book too. I won’t spoil it by pointing them out.
All in all, a great book and well worth reading, but be prepared to hit the deadly mines of those typos. Get past them and you have a really gripping tale.
Buy the book HERE
About the author
Carole Jahme has a master's degree in evolutionary psychology and is the author of Beauty and the Beast: Woman, Ape and Evolution. She has won two coveted awards for the communication of science to the public: 2004 the Wellcome Trust's award and the 2012 Science and Technology Facilities Council award. Jahme writes for the London Guardian science page, she also broadcasts on television and radio. Jahme manages to synthesize Darwinian theory in almost all of her creative ventures. She is a fellow of the RSA.
Jahme started her professional life as a model, dancer and actress, she worked with Gerry Cottles Circus performing on the trapeze, tight rope, clowning, acrobatics and acted in movies, TV, radio and theatre, with the likes of Morgan Freeman and Robert Downey Jr, but the call of the wild, particularly the call of wild primates, proved too seductive to resist. In 2012 her first novel, a Darwinian vampire story, Worth Their Weight in Blood was published by UK independent publisher Mira Intelligent Read.
About the Reviewer
Dr. Kevin Hillman
Dr. Kevin Hillman is a rogue scientist and writer who normally appears online as anyone but himself. His multiple personalities include the sensible and restrained Gutbugs and the sensible but volatile Romulus Crowe, as well as the militant Leg-iron and the utterly deranged Phineas Dume. That last incarnation wrote articles for the greatly missed AlienSkin magazine and takes the credit for most of the stories. He’s also started putting out his own books.
Kevin's short stories have appeared in From The Asylum, AlienSkin, and other online venues including the Horror Zine. Most short stories are now appearing as print and eBook collections, or as singles. His first novel, Jessica's Trap, was released by Damnation Books in 2011 and the second, Samuel’s Girl, will be out on November 1st. Fame beckons, although fortune remains sadly elusive.