Publication Date: March 14, 2014
In The Vitandi by Denver Batiste, Emo Vampire, Kellen Donnelly, must find a descendant of Mary, the Mother of Christ, and impregnate her in order to preserve his people. His people lost track of the bloodline hundreds of years before and have been working with a blood bank to find a link. Nicole Ervin is a niece of Christ living in New York. Kellen finds Nicole easily enough but there are complications that could not have been predicted. Will he be able to fulfill his mission in time to save his people?
Vitandi is a novel that readers will either like or they’ll march against with signs predicting the end of the world through the blasphemy of man. If Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code offended your religious beliefs, Batiste’s novel is not one that you’ll want to pick up. Batiste puts a new and interesting twist on vampirism that ties into the beginning of Christianity and while it’s not something that I, as a reader, saw coming, it is an idea that once read seems too obvious to not have been explored before. The four-sentence prologue lays out clearly the genesis of the race and causes a reader like me, unenthused by vampirism, to sit up and take note.
In order for the vampire race to continue, Kellen Donnelly must find a descendant of Mary, the mother of Christ, and have a child with her. The Vitandi (vampires) have long since lost track of the bloodline and their deadline is drawing near, so it’s imperative that Kellen finds this woman. Convenient to his cause is a blood bank screening for the very DNA he seeks.
Kellen comes off as a flippant, arrogant idiot at the start of the novel. He’s 1,000+ years old and rebelling against his father. His goal is women and fun and while the character might be a bit of a moron, the author shows a distinctly tongue-in-cheek style so that the reader knows we’re really not supposed to take this guy so seriously. Nicole is typical of the genre, a somewhat dowdy woman with horrible taste in men. The latter is how we know she’ll like the Emo Kellen. It also helps that he is a dead ringer for her favorite actor, the one about whom she has the especially sexy dreams. When he shows up at her door asking for a date, Nicole is hot-to-trot and desperate to go. Nicole’s role in the story, while mostly well written required a lot of suspension of disbelief, but Batiste sets Nicole up well as we witness her conversations with her best friend, Mia and understand that she’s ready for something.
There is an adjustment period with this story between expectation and what appears on the page. I expected Simon and Kellen, the father 2,000+ years old and the son 1,000+ years old not to be so acclimated to the moment. When Simon tells Kellen that he needs to “answer e-mails and such,” this reader is wondering if someone exposed to thousands of years of the evolution of the language would use those words. Early on, much of the dialogue left the reader with that distracted doubt, but as the story continues, the reader acclimates. This is who these characters are written to be. They are a modern father and son.
There’s a lot of housework to be done in The Vitandi. While the prologue tells us who the Vitandi are and how they came to be, there’s a great deal of structure and “whys” and “wherefores” that need to be laid out in the progression of the story. This is not a boy-meets-girl, girl-gets-pregnant and vampires-are saved-kind of story. It’s a complex re-write of popular mythology with the potential of the cruelty of fate. Nicole tells us early on that she is unable to have children. A child is needed for the vampires to survive. Is this an insurmountable roadblock?
The true star of The Vitandi is the new vampire history and its tie-in to religious history. Kellen holds some resentment toward Christ and it’s clear why he would see him as cruel and vengeful. While the building blocks of vampirism are direct the structure of the world and the involvement of Lucifer and his demon is engaging. Batiste gives us the image of the demon sporting a decaying body and walking among us. Her matter-of-fact style caused the skin to crawl and the reader to become even more involved in how the demon’s story line might play out. I predict that authors of the genre will be kicking themselves not to have thought of the tie-ins.
The best thing about this novel is the end and the promise of more. There is an anger and vengeance at the end that is just stunningly well written. [easyazon-link asin=”B00JEN9KIM” locale=”us”]The Vitandi[/easyazon-link] will appeal to cross-genre audiences. Don’t worry if you’re not a reader of vampire stories, just pick this one up today. You will not be sorry.
Read an excerpt and buy The Vitandi by Denver Batiste on