Serbu, Damian. “The Vampire’s Angel”, (“Realm of the Vampire Council)”, Nine Star, 2018.
Chaos, Revolution and Love
There are about ten to twelve writers whose work I await and when there is a new book, I stop whatever I am doing to sit down and read. Damian Serbu is one of those writers and the strange thing is that I am so over vampire novels. After all, I come from the same town as Anne Rice and it seems that Lestat and I have aged together. So what is it about Serbu and his vampires? I have no idea except that his characters are unforgettable and I love his prose style. I am sure that there are those among my regular readers who are thinking that this is not a new title and that I have already reviewed this book and that is correct. I believe that I have reviewed all of Serbu’s books but this is a new edition of “The Vampire’s Angel” in which the book is streamlined and revamped. Serbu has a new publisher with Nine Star and I understand that they are going to republish all of his vampire books and will also publish those that are yet unwritten. It looks like the new home is comfortable for both parties.
“The Devil’s Angel” is set in Paris during the French Revolution and three lives come together. We meet Xavier, a priest, who is struggling to hold on to his trust in humanity but whose own faith is threatened by the desire he has for Thomas, a mysterious American visitor. Thomas fights against the Catholic Church to win Xavier’s heart and he is forced to hide the act that he is a vampire and this threatens the love he hopes to find with Xavier whose sister, Catherine, works with Thomas to bring them together while at the same time protecting the family fortune. She, however, becomes a victim of evil forces as the danger, the catastrophes and the deaths of the Revolution meet the “world of magic, vampires, and personal demons as Xavier, Thomas, and Catherine fight to find peace and love amidst the destruction” (and that is just the introduction). As Xavier and Thomas fall in love with each other, they both face their own separate demons. Thomas must learn to deal with his impatience and temper, while hiding that he is a vampire from Xavier who combats a devotion to the church and society, both of which are against his loving another man.
This is, in effect, a coming-out story but certainly not the usual that we get. Xavier’s struggle includes so much more than gaining acceptance at a time that this is not done—not only does he have to accept his homosexuality but he needs to find some kind of approval from his family, society and the church and his own faith. He also must face the reality of being the submissive half of his relationship.
Serbu gives us a Xavier who is vulnerable and filled with emotion. At first meeting, we see him as a pure man of faith something akin to what the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau had to say about man being born pure and then corrupted by society and I do not mean that homosexuality is corrupting but at the time this was written there were many that did.
We immediately sense his submissiveness. He is gentle, speaks softly and is a man of total obedience. He has chosen a life of serving others and this fulfills him. He is emotional to the point of tears and he needs a dominant personality to take care of him. Before he met Thomas, the church was his protection but that all changed along with the way he began to think about religion.
Thomas is Xavier’s total opposite and immediately knows that he wants Xavier as his life partner. He is domineering and self-confident, hot-tempered and can be violent if provoked yet Xavier has quite a calming effect on him. He wants Xavier but knows that to get him requires patience. He is also afraid that Xavier lacks the strength to accept who he really is.
Serbu writes emotion beautifully thus allowing us to know his characters inside and out. Xavier is the kind of character who seemed to be reaching out for direction and I wanted to tell him to take the plunge and be who he is. He is a very real character, so real, in fact that I wondered if Serbu was writing about himself or someone he knows really well.
Many vampire novels are filled with action but you will not find that here unless you consider actions of the heart and mind. What we really read about is learning to accept oneself. Yes, it is a fantasy but one with great truths.
I could go on and on but to do so would not be fair to those who have yet to read “The Vampire’s Angel”. I would just rater end here positively and encourage you to read not just this but whatever you can get your hands on by Damian Serbu.