Billie Sue Mosiman,
Red Moon Rising
(DAW, 2001)

Billie Sue Mosiman, in Red Moon Rising, presents the reader with a promising new vision of vampirism. The author's basic premise is a good one, and it bodes well for the future of this book's sequels, but the storyline here begins to unravel a bit by the end, somewhat weakened by a lack of closure. There also seem to be a couple of inconsistencies over the course of the novel, but these do little harm. Red Moon Rising is a fast and enjoyable read, possessing a spirit of novelty that few vampire novels manage to attain these days, but it comes up a little short due largely to a few rushed spots and a few weaknesses in characterization.

In the world of Mosiman's creation, vampirism is caused by a mutated form of the blood disease porphyria (although vampires can be "made" on rare occasions); crossing the threshold from life to undeath involves a spiritual journey. There are three types of vampires -- Predators, Naturals and Cravens -- and the afflicted soul is transported to a dark and frightening world in which he or she must choose what type of vampire to be. It is easy to give in to the Predators; these are the more stereotypical vampires, holding some disdain for mankind and partaking of fresh meals any time they want to. The Cravens also hold some allure to journeyman souls in this confusing new world, but Cravens are looked down upon by their brethren for their cowardly inability to cope with the change and take care of themselves in their new "lives." The Naturals reject the animal-like blood lust of the Predators and seek to live their lives in the guise of normal human beings, relying on the Predators' supply of bagged blood for their sustenance.

As the novel opens, 18-year-old Dell Cambian is forced to make her choice. She is a typical teenager who just happens to come from a family of vampires, but she had desperately hoped the disease would pass her by. An ancient vampire named Mentor is called upon to help Dell through her transition, and in a sense both of these characters compete for the role of protagonist as the book rolls along. Mentor has more to worry about that Dell's rebelliousness and growing love for a human boy, though. The Predator in charge of the area's blood supply business is poised to take drastic action when a pair of humans finds evidence of the vampires' existence, and an even bigger potential threat looms in the form of a filthy rich old man dying of the normal form of porphyria and seeking out a vampire to give him eternal life.

The novel starts off really well, especially in terms of Dell's troubles adjusting to her new "life." The reader also gets valuable insight into Mentor, a most unusual vampire who has undertaken the job of guiding all of his young charges in the area. The novel loses cohesion toward the end, however, and certain key elements simply come about without much explanation. Clearly, Mosiman was setting the stage for a sequel, and this results in a definite lack of closure to this particular novel.

All in all, though, Red Moon Rising is an original and quite enjoyable vampire novel. The medical rather than supernatural source of vampirism serves the author well, and the means by which vampires consume human blood is particularly interesting (albeit somewhat silly). The minor flaws in storyline progression and characterization are typical of a writer still developing her mastery of the craft. There is much to be excited about here, though, and I for one expect to see big things from Mosiman in the near future.

- Rambles
written by Daniel Jolley
published 20 August 2005

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