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Daughter of Darkness
Steven Spruill
Doubleday Books, 307 pages

Daughter of Darkness

Steven Spruill
Steven Spruill was born in Battle Creek, Michigan in 1946. He has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the Catholic University of America. Spruill has had ten novels and five or six short stories published, He's married with no kids but they do have two tortoise-shell cats.

Steven Spruill Website

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Thomas Cunningham

One of literature's classic horror symbols is the vampire. From Bram Stoker's Dracula to Anne Rice's Lestat, the vampire is a wonderful character to tell a story. Steven Spruill uses a new theme for Daughter of Darkness. As a vampire story, this is an original.

I didn't have the opportunity to read Spruill's first novel, Rulers of Darkness, where I presume he lays out most of the background of his vampire chronicle. The method by which a person is transformed from human to undead is genuinely unique. Vampirism is both the cause and cure for Hemophagic Leukemia. In addition to this innovation to the vampire myth Spruill offers a cure for vampirism, once you've lived a dozen centuries and just want to go out gracefully. We also learn how phages seem to disappear before a normal people's eyes. Great stuff.

We don't refer to our heroes as vampires though, they are phages and the living are normals. Spruill tells a colorful tale with interesting characters. He adds one or two characters in preparation for the sequel to Daughter of Darkness; the purpose behind their presence is revealed only at the end. There were also a few sentences unreadable. I wonder how the editor missed them.

Aside from that, I enjoyed the story. The medical information and the situations of a first year Resident are somehow familiar to us, probably because of TV shows like ER. Basically it is a family story about a relationship between a daughter, Dr. Jenn Hrluska, and her estranged biological father, Zane. (Until this book I had no idea that vampires could procreate.) Zane is trying to show Jenn how much he loves her and how much he has missed her growing up. But Zane's plan gets messed up by Jenn's grandfather, Merrick, Zane's dear old (and I mean really old) dad and sworn enemy. (I hope that Spruill's first book, Rulers of Darkness, tells us the whole story of their dysfunction and hatred for one another.) The short version is that ten years ago Merrick tried to kill Zane. For obvious reasons Zane is wary of his father and distrusts his relationship with Jenn.

Jenn, a brilliant and talented doctor at a Washington, DC hospital, has a boyfriend and guess what; Dad doesn't think Hugh McCall is the right kind of guy for his little girl. (Well, there is more to that but I will leave it to the reader to discover.) There are two other characters that add greatly to the story: a snooping TV reporter and a rival Resident at the hospital who feels threatened by Jenn's energy and abilities in the pediatric ward. You can guess what happens to them.

The only negative thing I have to say about the novel is the book's dust jacket. The blurb on the flap gives away the whole mystery. After that, you are left with a simple story of the undead and their loves and fears. Read the book before you read the dust jacket and you should enjoy this novel.

Copyright © 1997 by Thomas Cunningham

Thomas Cunningham is an independent corporate coach working in the software industry. Bad science fiction films give him a rash.

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