Velde reimagines the vampire romance genre with Companions of the Night, a 1995 story of teenaged Kerry, whose trip to the laundromat to retrieve her little brother’s teddy embroils her in torture, kidnap, robbery, arson and murder. When she defends Ethan against vicious kidnappers, she discovers that she got more than she bargained for, as Ethan is sneaky, unreliable and vampiric. Nevertheless, she must trust him and even adopt some of his tough, duplicitous ways if she is to rescue her family from an unhinged vampire hunter.
This was much more a book about action and suspense than about supernatural events. Though Ethan introduces Kerry to a world of standard vampiric tropes, much of the book focuses on the secretive and destructive acts he and Kerry must perform to follow and capture the unhinged hunter. Thus Ethan and the rest of the vampires seem no more dangerous than any mortal gang that survives by doing nasty things under most people’s radar. The strong similarities between vampires and members of criminal gangs illuminated Velde’s vampires as people who are living out the worst of their human nature. I personally liked this conception of vampires being all too susceptible to human failings.
Even though I liked Velde’s perspective on vampiric nature and heroine Kerry, who, though victimized by vampires, retains some cleverness, suspicion and ambivalence throughout the book, I didn’t find Companions of the Night engaging. With such an evocative title conjuring up friendship or, at the very least, close, strongly emotional ties, the book should at least have a little feeling, right? Since we follow Kerry, we should feel her panic, her confusion, her attraction toward Ethan, her anxiety about her missing family. But we don’t. Instead of sincere emotion, we get lots of frenetic action, which is fascinating because we’re trying to figure out how all the pieces of the puzzle will fit, but I don’t really care if they do.
Somewhere between the melodrama of Twilight and the jumpy action of Companions of the Night, there’s a great vampire novel. However, I have yet to read it. Maybe it doesn’t exist. Sob!