Reviews Logo
SearchHomeContents PageSite Map
Darkest Heart
Nancy A. Collins
White Wolf, 183 pages

Thom Ang
Darkest Heart
Nancy A. Collins
Nancy A. Collins is the author of Walking Wolf, Wild Blood, and Tempter, plus the series Sunglasses After Dark, In The Blood, and Paint it Black, featuring punk vampire Sonja Blue. Her short fiction has appeared in such anthologies as The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror, Best New Horror and The Definitive Best of the Horror Show. Collins has edited several horror anthologies, and is the founder of the International Horror Guild.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Knuckles And Tales
SF Site Review: Tempter
SF Site Review: Angels on Fire

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Cindy Lynn Speer

Sonja Blue is not happy. She has been a vampire for over thirty years, and she hasn't gotten over her anger at her fate. She has since channeled that anger into two areas. One, tracking and killing vampires, and two, fighting The Other, the vampire inside herself. It is not always easy. The Other is inside her head, she can take control at any time, forcing Sonja to do the very things she hates. It also makes it harder for her to get close to anyone. Her inner vampire could hurt or even kill someone she cares for, and Sonja would be helpless to do a single thing about it. Only two men have seen past the aura she exudes, to the human she once was. The first, short relationship didn't have a fairy tale ending, and the second one doesn't look like it will be any better. She and Jack Estes, a fellow vampire hunter, are out to track the vampire who everyone claims is the cruelest, the one with the darkest heart.

The first thing I always look at when I review a vampire book is how the writer handles the vampire aspect. I love the way Nancy A. Collins handled Sonja Blue... instead of trying to find a totally new angle in vampire society as a whole, she finds the angle within her main character. Vampires and werewolves populate this world, and all of them are predators, killing mankind. Sometimes the vampires take renfields, which anyone familiar with the Dracula mythos can tell are somewhat mindless toadies, dedicated to serving their vampire master. The vampire, when creating a fledging, passes on something that is part infection, part possession, part physical manifestation. Sonja, when she was made into a vampire and left for dead so this infection could take over, was taken to a hospital and revived... she was only dead a short time, and so she was able to keep enough of herself alive that she can actively fight The Other, who wants so badly to take permanent possession. She's extremely strong willed. Not only does she have to fight, and win, against this part of herself all of the time, but the fact she choose to do so in the first place instead of giving into it is amazing. It makes her very admirable. Her voice, also, is sensible, even if we can tell that she's a little lonely, making her a wonderful, well rounded character.

The world Collins gives us is one of uncompromising cruelty. She says, in the context, that humans can not take the reality of the situation, the reality of Sonja's predator infested world. Those who knew and fought it among human kind either joined the ranks of those they were dedicated to eradicating, or went mad. It's almost as if humans chose not to see. It's not that they can't... when their inhibitions are down, when they're drugged out of their minds or already mad, they can see the vampires and werewolves clearly, and recognize them for the evil they are. Instead, for self preservation of the mind, it seems as if we've all agreed to forget, all agreed not to see. Jack Estes can't see, but he wants to. Sonja Blue tries to teach him, because without some knowledge, without being able to immediately recognize whether the person before him is predator or prey, he can find himself facing consequences even more serious than being hurt or killed. Also, the choices that Sonja has to make colors the darkness of this world... she makes some very hard decisions to protect the people she loves... even if the protection is only of their souls.

Filled with seductive darkness and the smallest and brightest lights of hope, Darkest Heart may well be, according to the author, the last serving of Sonja Blue we ever get to read. Being a latecomer to the series, I rather hope not...she leaves a major thread unresolved, and I'd really like to see what happens.

Copyright © 2003 Cindy Lynn Speer

Cindy Lynn Speer loves books so much that she's designed most of her life around them, both as a librarian and a writer. Her books aren't due out anywhere soon, but she's trying. You can find her site at

SearchContents PageSite MapContact UsCopyright

If you find any errors, typos or anything else worth mentioning, please send it to
Copyright © 1996-2014 SF Site All Rights Reserved Worldwide