Twenty-eight stories steeped in blood, including works by Craig Laurance Gidney, Sheree Renée Thomas, Steven Van Patten, L. Marie Wood, LH Moore, and a whole lot more.
(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I thank Mocha Memoirs Press and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity.
It’s been a while since I picked up an anthology, and I couldn’t resist Slay: Stories of the Vampire Noire as my undying love for Buffy and vampires in general kicked its way to the surface; even though I don’t read a lot of vampire fiction these days, they’re still my favourite type of monster. What makes Slay stand out is its aim to highlight and celebrate diverse voices, as well as protagonists of the African Diaspora, offering near thirty stories that differ from one another, but involve the common theme of vampires and vampiric entities. Segmented geographically, each tale falls respectfully into the categories of US and UK, Africa and lastly, the future. I didn’t like or didn’t connect to all of them, but there were still those that stood out.
Desiccant by Craig Laurance Gidney was a strong opening that centred around odd happenings in an apartment building, while The Dance by L. Marie Wood submerged the reader in an erotic encounter between two strangers. Diary of a Mad Black Vampire by Dicey Grenor packed a punch, and Encounters by K. R. S. McEntire brought to life a memory. Frostbite by Delizhia D. Jenkins told of a disturbing family secret, and Snake Hill Blues by John Linwood Grant introduced a formidable heroine. No God But Hunger by Steve Van Samson described a desperate hunt gone wrong, and Message in a Vessel by V. G. Harrison depicted an unsettling future.
The above were notable, but below were my top three:
Love Hangover by Sheree Renée Thomas – Delilah was something else, something more ancient.
Frankie meets the other-worldly Delilah, soon becoming entangled in a relationship of deadly desires. So much was packed into this one, and when I think back I recall how impressed I was that it felt so much longer than it was, much like a fully fleshed out novel. I thoroughly enjoyed the 70’s disco scene, as well as the overall spotlight on music and how vividly it served as an escape. The first-person POV immersed me completely; Frankie’s obsession and pining for Delilah’s affections, it was tragic, and I couldn’t help but feel for her.
Ujima by Alledria Hurt – First came the rain, then the heat of summer, then the Master as the nights grew longer.
Imani’s new life in the cadre is turned upside down when she reunites with someone close to her heart. I was immediately pulled into this world, and wanted to know more. It reminded me of the urban fantasy novels I used to love; a heroine to admire, going against the odds. The way it was written was captivating, from that opening scene, to the ending that seized my heart. The surviving bond to family that doesn’t quite die is a common trope for the undead, but it was executed brilliantly here.
His Destroyer by Samantha Bryant – She was to be the instrument.
Dienihatiri awakens to find herself a weapon of revenge. This was a unique spin on biblical lore, specifically the tenth plague of Exodus. I’m a fan of retellings and making something new out of already known legends, it encourages me to dig further and compare. The emotion illustrated here demonstrated how terrible supposed retribution can be. I found it totally engrossing and mystical, with a dark and disturbing tone.
In conclusion: Slay: Stories of the Vampire Noire dedicates itself to vampire lovers, providing something for every type of reader. I’d say that the horror is quite tame in most, but that’s a personal opinion as everyone has different standards on what they expect from the genre. In any case, there’s a wide variety that explores the struggles and turmoil surrounding the mortal and immortal both.
© Red Lace 2020