In the summers between college, I worked at the Bailey Howe Library for the University of Vermont along with my sister. I got paid to be surrounded by the largest collection of books in the state, and I enjoyed myself immensely. Besides the scholarly titles available, the library also offered a selection of casual reading, which was displayed prominently, along with other new acquisitions, at the back of the lobby on the first floor. I found many books to consume by sorting through the returns, stumbling upon them in the stacks when I was ostensibly making sure books were in call number order and, finally, picking them from the new acquisitions shelf.
During the summer of 1997, I saw a book on the new acquisitions shelf called Daughter of Darkness by Steven Spruill. The cover and title showed all stereotypical signs of being a thriller, possibly with some supernatural elements. As I enjoy thrillers, suspense novels, mysteries, etc., I picked it up. I saw that it was a medical suspense/vampire novel about a hospital intern coming to terms with her peaceful vampirism in opposition to her father’s murderous bloodsucking and picked it up. I read it quickly, liked it, then forgot it.
As soon as I forgot all the key details of the book, I wanted to read it again, primarily for the convincing biological interpretation of "hemophages," but I couldn’t find it anywhere. It didn’t help that all I remembered was the key invented term "hemophage" and the subtitle, "A Novel of Unearthly Thirst." Typing either phrase into search engines did nothing; neither did skimming my local library’s catalog of vampire fiction or even that of Amazon. Rather frustrated but not obsessed, I thought I would never figure out what book I barely remembered.
This morning, though, someone requested a Paperback Swap book from me, so I sent it off, then poked idly around the site, looking for a way to use my remaining credits. Seeking an anthology of vampire viction, Blood Thirst: 100 Years of Vampire Fiction, that contains my favorite story by Tanith Lee, "Bite-Ne-Not, or, The Fleur de Fur," I didn’t find what I was looking for.
However, I did come across what I wasn’t looking for. A keyword search on Paperback Swap for "blood thirst" brought up tangentially related titles…one of which was Daughter of Darkness. The cover seemed familiar and the date, 1997, was approximately right for when I first read the book that I couldn’t fully remember. Before my prefrontal cortex registered the title’s significance, I felt a familiar rise of anticipation because the rest of me realized that I had been looking for this book for 12 years. Curious, I clicked.
Hooray! An end to my quest! As soon as I saw the subtitle, I knew what I had found.
In any event, I ordered Daughter of Darkness from Paperback Swap, then discovered that it was the second in a trilogy. I just now ordered the first book, Rulers of Darkness. When I get another credit, I will order the third book, Lords of Light, even though it sounds silly. I’m so very gratified to have found Daughter of Darkness, a gratification made stronger and more pleasing by the element of surprise, since I wasn’t looking for it in the first place. Serendipitous discoveries make me bubble.