Saturday, May 5, 2012

VAMPIRE POND by Peter Joseph Swanson

Driven by dialog with the author’s trademark dark humor, and set in the mud and murk of England in the early days of Christianity, Peter Joseph Swanson's Vampire Pond blends myth and legend from Greek gods to Celts and Druids to Noah’s Ark. The gypsy widow and her dwarfish brother are marooned in the misery of a village not yet on any maps and find themselves drawn into poverty faith and politics. There’s even a touch of modern ecology as villagers wonder if the cutting down of trees might have caused the mud to prevail and crops to fail. “God gave us trees so they are to be used,” says one protagonist. “Now it’s all barren.”
The author’s excellent feeling for history is clear in his language and characters, from “tart” being short for “sweetheart” to barber surgeons who just might want to burn witches in order to take over the doctoring trade. Hilarious misunderstandings of familiar Bible tales have people arguing over whether God would really have drowned rabbits and small children. And the greed of someone who may or may be sent by the church leads to complex machinations over whether or not it’s murder to send someone to a monster.
This story really takes off halfway through when veiled references to evil and mystery suddenly come to life and horrors abound, all with that trademark mix of the ludicrous and the haunting. The characters have a pleasing consistency, their responses and their timing perfect, giving the reader the same sense of shock and surprise as they endure.
A story as slippery, dark and muddy as the world it portrays, this tale builds nicely on humor balanced like tumble-down buildings sinking in the mire, and offers escape or redemption at the hands of a very practical woman and her brother.

Disclosure: I was lucky enough to find a copy of this novel when it was offered free.
—Sheila Deeth

Product Details
Paperback: 280 pages
Publisher: Publishing (February 15, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1600763294
ISBN-13: 978-1600763298

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