PUBLICATION DATE: OCTOBER 7, 2011
genuinely wanted to like this book. I’ve read several other things by Debbie Viguie, and have not only enjoyed them but been challenged by the depth of her story telling ability. However, Kiss of Night is a highly erratic book both in character development and in the story. Reading it, I felt as if I was traveling in a vehicle at sixty-five miles an hour, with a driver who slammed on the breaks every five minutes bringing us to a complete stop.
Viguie starts off driving the story extremely well.
Kiss of Night begins with an atmospheric scene in St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague. The main character, Susan, is there because of a death. Her parents died when she was young, and as the story unfolds she has just lost the loving grandmother who raised her to adulthood. As she takes in the solace of the sanctuary, she has a realization about the stained glass window which is suffusing the room with red light. It is all about Christ’s blood, and the work of redemption through His blood. On the heels of the insight, Susan has an eerie encounter with a stranger. He vanishes from sight, leaving both Susan and the reader with a case of foreboding.
Then, Viguie slams on the breaks.
She introduces a supporting character, David at Heathrow waiting to board his flight. But instead of focusing on the sinister vibes he’s getting from one of the other normal looking people in the waiting area, she begins “information dumping” and describes everyone around him. This doesn’t develop his character, and it grinds the book to a dead stop.
Susan, as a protagonist, is a problem. She is twenty-three years and a college graduate with no real direction in life. She exists in such a state of passivity that it is as if she is waiting for disaster to come and consume her life. When it does this, nothing is thrown out of kilter because she literally had no life to disrupt. Susan is constantly reacting to things that happen, instead of initiating or leading.
Viguie begins driving the story extremely well again, as she introduces her vampires.
They are the best part of the book. Viguie’s whole spin on their mythology meshes nicely with Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Her vampires have the same weaknesses as the Count; garlic, sunlight, wooden stakes, crosses and decapitation all will kill them. It was refreshing to see an author go back to the roots of vampire lore. Viguie does twist some things, but for the most part keeps to original vampire cannon.
Her explanation of what the vampires are, and why the Lord allows them to exist is wonderfully original. A human is made into a vampire when the person is judged by a vampire to be incorrigible in their sinful, evil ways. They are considered not deserving of their humanity and so it is taken away from them.
When they are “turned” by their sire they become obsessed with the very sin that ensnared them as a human. They are consumed by it, and their existence is a walking-the-earth purgatory for them. The hope is that they will cry out to Christ from this early taste of hell and repent before the final judgment.
As the book reaches the halfway point, the roaring ahead of the plot and slamming on the breaks character development continue.
Rafael, the romantic lead, is a vampire. A cursed crusader who once slaughtered his own men he fluctuates between bully and penitent. His story is revealed through flashbacks and by himself, he’s a multifaceted character. But he and Susan are painful to read together. Their dialogue consists of “why don’t you trust me” “you can trust me” and arguments in between fits of passionate kissing. Paul, a vampire who is a monk and a true Christian, and Michael the mad scientist vampire who dissects other vampires are minor characters but made me keep reading the book.
The plot of Kiss of Night; a vampire war coming, the search for a weapon that could determine who is victorious, and an Armageddon quickly approaching, is not strong enough to carry the book’s weak main characters. I truly wish Viguie’s vampires, like Paul and Michael, had a better setting in which to shine.