In Memories We Fear by Barb Hendee

In Memories We Fear: A Vampire Memories Novel
To purchase this title, click the cover image.

The genre of vampire fiction, once in danger of becoming nothing more than clones of Laurel K. Hamilton, has begun to branch out in new directions.  One of my favorites among the newer series is Barb Hendee’s Vampire Memories.  Her characters are both monstrous and very human, both in their needs and in their failings.  The newest addition, In Memories We Fear, continues in this vein with a new character who has fallen far and must redeem himself.

(Description nicked from the publisher’s website.)

“A series of killings in England point to a new—and feral—vampire. Vampires Eleisha and Philip and their human companion travel to London to make contact with the terrified creature, to offer him sanctuary and stop the bloodshed. But the vampire they find is not what they expected…”

Hendee has proven that she’s quite adept at characterization.  After the events of the previous novel, most of the main characters have issues to deal with, and that shows in this story.  We even get character growth among the antagonists.  Of the protagonists, my favorite is Philip.  Having come back to himself after letting his dark side out to play in Memories of Envy, he’s determined not to let such things happen again.  The appearance of the feral vampire threatens his stability, and I enjoyed watching his reactions.

On the antagonist’s side of the equation, the ghostly servant Mary continues her struggle between subservience to the vampire Julian and her growing independence of thought and action.  No longer the flippant teenager that we met in the second book, she’s slowly maturing into a woman.  It’s strange to think of someone growing up after they die, but that’s how Hendee is playing this character, and it works.

As much as I like the characters, I also have to give kudos to the author for the creative way that she portrays her vampires and their powers.  They don’t turn into mist or bats, they don’t fly, and they don’t mesmerize their prey; rather, they each posses a dominant trait that they use while hunting.  Eleisha’s is pity, Rose’s is wisdom, and so on.  Their only true psychic powers are to change human memories to cover up their feeding.

The flashbacks Hendee includes for each new vampiric character not only gives their backstory, but it also allows the author to essentially chronicle the recent history of the vampire race.  After Julian killed so many of them, the few that are left are pulling together through Eleisha to form a new society.  It’s interesting to watch the conflict between protecting themselves from Julian’s wrath and seeking out those who might need that protection as well.

I hope that Hendee continues this series for many years to come.  There are so many avenues that she can explore with this concept that I look forward to each book, wondering what she’ll come up with next.  In Memories We Fear is an engaging tale, delving deeply into the idea that every monster has some shred of humanity left and deserves a chance at redemption.

Also by this author: Ghosts of Memories, Memories of Envy, The Mist-Torn Witches

This review appeared on Owlcat Mountain on September 27, 2011.

Series: Vampire Memories
ISBN: 9780451464224
Publisher: Roc
Page Count: 336
Publication Date: October 4, 2011
Acquired: Provided by the publisher as an e-ARC through NetGalley
Author Website
Read an excerpt