Summary: Brainy philosophy major student and her biochem boyfriend take different perspectives on the vampire haunting their lives. Is he a dream, a virus, a reality? One character is destroyed; both are transformed, and both learn more about the murky, shape-shifting nature of self and consciousness. Clarion writing, believable characters [especially Anne], unexpected plot twists that reflect great insight into workings of the human mind, a knowledgable representation of the geography of the human imagination — all these elements add up to a cerebral masterpiece of psychological horror.
Okay, I exaggerate.
Is Maldureve real? Is he benign or malign? Stableford takes the story for some surprising twists and turns as his intelligent protagonists try to make sense of everything. In lucid prose, convincingly distinguished for different sections from Anne’s and Gil’s perspectives, Stableford creates a work as much about the nature of consciousness and all the selves inside us as it is about vampires. Young Blood is like a cross between The Doll Maker [innocent, intelligent ingenue comes of age] and The Duke in His Castle [small cast, intense focus, great psychological acuity, delicious allegory]. Unlike anything else I’ve read, it accurately captures the thrill, doubt, power and intoxication of creating, nourishing, talking to and learning about characters in one’s head.