Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Faith Words Blog Tour: Kiss of Night by Debbie Viguie

From the publisher: While visiting Prague for her beloved grandmother's funeral, Susan meets a dark, mysteriou man to whom she feels an instant and mesmerizing attraction. The man--Raphael--is a vampire, cursed for his sins to roam the earth for eternity. He needs Susan's help in a secret war against evil in a supernatural world that Susan never believed existed until now. Together, they are called on to exercise both courage and faith. KISS OF NIGHT ultimately asks the question: What would happen if a vampire truly accepted God?

Well, kids, it's come to this. The Christian industry--- known in the past to emulate popular secular trends and infuse pop culture with a stream or two of grace, has entered into Vamp territory.   While Thirsty by Tracy Bateman used Vampirism as a metaphor, Kiss of Night stars Raphael: a True Blood, Anne Rice, Edward Cullen VAMPIRE caught in a struggle of spiritual warfare.

Christians: meet Vampires.   Theology and the fiction surrounding legends of the undead is nothing new. After all, Christ rose from the dead three days after His Crucifixion; subsequently appearing in slightly different form to his disciples before ascending to heaven.   As blood remains a major metaphor of salvation and redemption in the Bible and in Christianity, so does blood remain a life-giver in the lore of Vampirism.   Symbolically, it is almost logical that these two tenets should meet.   Especially if you need to put a face to the very real and prevalent darker evil forces Christians believe exist as truly as higher good. While Frank Peretti's fiction explores the more demonic elements, thus juxtaposing Biblical entities with a fiction that makes Spiritual battles ongoing and contemporary, so Viguie re-imagines the power between Good and Evil by using a timeless myth: that of an undead creature condemned to roam the world in a sort of half-life, sucking what he can from human warmth and kindness.

I'm going to be brutally honest and tell you that my preference is for Christianity and Vampirism to stay in their separate spheres: that God ordains good and ultimately negates darker forces and that age old Sunday School Question: "Would you be watching True Blood if you knew Jesus was in the room?" proves that never the twain should meet.   However, I do believe that this fiction is timely and inevitable. At the very least, it can be a springboard for discussion.  The book itself features Discussion Questions at the back; but I would like to point future readers to ponder a few other things:

Do Christians go too far in appropriating secular popularity in order to provide a Christian alternative?  Christian Vampire Fiction is nothing if not an attempt at validating a very popular secular trend for our own.

Is the novel merely an emblem of a unique and new take raising questions about Hell and the afterlife, Eternal Damnation, and all that fun stuff...... or does it do nought but force a discordant clash between that which is Higher and Good and that which dwells ultimately in the darker forces of human nature?

To speak to the prose itself, I found a times it read very much like a Vampire story with Christianity tossed in to give it legs in a new market.... Not to mention the rather awkward infusion of Chapter heading scripture verses which speak to blood, the afterlife....anything to suit the author's timbre.
Take Chapter Fourteen, for example: " For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul"---Leviticus 17:11.  Pretty straightforward when inserted in its original context: as re-emphasizing the Sacrifice that plays into the whole of the Christian tradition.

I honestly, as mentioned, find this a little strained and a little odd. I don't know if Christians need Vampires and I don't know if we can make the  case that Vampire fiction in a Christian vein will save the worldly souls that the Evangelical publishing world wants to string into the fold....

However, there's no doubt that this is an exciting read and that the author has pushed boundaries.  I commend  Hatchette Books for taking this risk and I commend Viguie for boldly going into territory where I know a lot of questions will be raised.

The questions are the most important part; so is the subsequent discussion.  Every popular Christian or Religious tome from The Shack to The Da Vinci Code has excelled at one thing: it has forced an open dialogue between those in favour and those against.   I have a feeling that Kiss of Night, like the two aforementioned novels, will be hard to avoid.   There will be no inkling of a Laodicean thought about it.... you're either in or out....

You won't be either if you don't at least give this book a closer look.  I feel it is an important work because it proves, as mentioned earlier, that Christians are invested in emulating trends... even if it means dappling into dark territory much scorned by our tradition for years.

I recognize that this review did not speak to specific plot points in the novel, or to Raphael and Susan's story; but I think it holds enough twists and surprises to intrigue you when you experience it for yourself. Rather, I wanted to use this space to raise questions about this bold foray in fiction and to encourage you as a faith-based reader ( or non-faith based reader) to explore this nearly unchartered territory. I will say this, I loved the Crusades backstory and the haunting and hallowed landscape of eerie Prague...

You should visit the author's website to learn more about this and some of her other titles
If you tweet, or are an active member of TWITTER, please note there will be a Twitter book Party for this title on OCTOBER 7. Use hashtag #kissofnight to join the discussion.

OTHER BLOGGERS featured in this book tour include:

Make sure to check out these blogs for their opinions on this unique read! As for my copy, I'm passing it on to my friend Blake--- who may or may not yet believe that Christian Vampire fiction ACTUALLY exists ;)

Happy Reading!

This book is the first in a trilogy

My thanks to Hatchette Book Group for my review copy


Blake said...

I can't wait.
think I'll be satisfied if it's a good read, or equally (and possibly more) satisfied if it's a complete train wreck. Either way, I expect to be entertained!

Unknown said...

Kudos to you for reading this cover to cover. I got an ARC and tried...and just couldn't do it. :P

Anonymous said...

I loved your review- Mine went into almost the same area, I think Im left with more questions than just ok this was vampire for the Christian

hmmmmm not liking the mix and I love vampires Im just not sure if Im ready for the inspy ones yet...