Yvonne Navarro’s 1993 debut novel AFTERAGE is a well-crafted vampire story with a twist. The twist being that it is barely a vampire novel in the traditional sense. Set in Chicago, where the population has almost dwindled due to a vampire invasion, the story revolves around the ongoing battle between good and evil. In one corner we have the struggling humans trying to survive the plague as they seek refuge and other survivors. On the other corner, we have the rulers, the villains themselves, led by evil queen Anyelet, who yearns to control what’s left of the remaining population. Both want freedom but none are equipped enough to go for it. Fangs and stakes are barely the point in this novel. The focus is more on the interaction between characters. Navarro makes sure her people are equally well-defined and the setting is rich in flavor before moving on to the next stage, the action sequences.
And that’s where some readers may get miffed. Nothing major really happens before the last 30 pages or so. Oh, you may get a teaser here and there; heck, you may even drool over the novel's sudden turn into dark fantasy territory, but an edge-of-your-seat page-turner this is not. Navarro goes rather for the gloomy atmosphere and in the end it pays off quite well. Some scenes are rather unsettling if not darkly beautiful. Topped by short chapters divided in many sections, AFTERAGE even adds a celestial apparition to shake things up. This may not always work as it should (this presence is never really explained as it comes and goes as it pleases) but it gives the reader another reason to enjoy this effort. Bottom line: if you dig slower but always intriguing plots à la quiet horror, you’ve come to the right novel.
AFTERAGE is available wherever digital books are sold.
Until next post—Martin