Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5:
Rafael Schiller’s had a long road and he’s forgotten the meaning of several human words along the way. Commitment? Relationship? Love, for all the gods’ sakes? What does a vampire need those for? He’s completely content treating his long string of one-off lovers as midnight snacks. He makes it good for them and has no reason for guilt or grief. Some nights still induce an odd, hollow ache, but he can just drown it in the next conquest. Master of his universe, he lives without a care…until he encounters a bizarre creature feeding in an alley.
It’s caught his scent, and now that it’s hunting him, Rafael remembers a word from his childhood. Krsnik—the hunters, the monsters who feed on the blood of vampires. He could run, but he’d be running forever, and that would sure as hell take the fun out of life. Time to figure out what the creature really is, what can defeat it, and why he feels so drawn to it.
The Line by Angel Martinez is another terrific story from this “auto read” fantasy author. The Line takes the typical vampire character, normally an apex predator when they aren’t sparkling, and gives him an adversary, the Krsnik, worthy of such formidable being. Furthermore, Martinez doesn’t just give us a remarkably scary hunter in the Krsnik, no, she gives us the haunting backstory as to how this creature came into being. By giving us those extra layers, Martinez’ The Line and her characters steps outside the ordinary “supernatural” narrative into something quite wonderful and unexpected.
Talk about a duo meant for each other in every way but romantic. At least at first. Rafael, is a vampire whose years of existence has taught him that killing his “food’ is unnecessary. Instead he leaves his “young men” sexually sated and happy when he is done and on his way out the door. It’s a lonely existence but Rafael has made his peace with it. Then a new predator appears in his town and Rafael decides to track it down and dispatch it. Only this predator feeds on vampires and is more powerful and just as cunning as Rafael. Now the hunter is the hunted, Rafael’s position at the top of the food chain is gone and his continued existence in doubt. It’s a lovely turn of events and the author wrings every bit of angst, suspense and shock out of this element.
Lan the Krsnik is remarkable as the predator of predators. He’s a truly fearsome creature. But he is also as layered a being as Raphael. I won’t spoil the surprises that come with his character but they brought to mind a quote I recently read that said when creating villains/dark characters, a good way to make them real is to give them vulnerabilities, a way for the reader to also understand and sympathize with them*. Angel Martinez has certainly done that here with Lan. Together Lan and Rafael become this dance of hunter and hunted that I never wanted to end. I loved every bit of it, including those instances where humor surfaces to ease the tension…for just a moment before it all gets deadly again.
I rarely find that I am happy with the length of any Angel Martinez tale because she provides such interesting back histories and world building to her stories that she often poses as many questions in her narrative as she supplies answers. At the end of each story I am always left wanting to know more….about everything. And yes, that happens here as well. Forty five pages? I could use two hundred and still be curious about small bits of history and back story that she teased us with throughout the tale. The only jarring element was the inclusion of the Johnny Cash song, The Line. I know it was included because this story was initially published as part of Totally Bound’s 50’s Mixed Tape Anthology but it could have been easily eliminated here, at least to my way of thinking.
Do you love tales of the supernatural? Are vampires in lust and love your thing as they are mine? Or you are just a fan of Angel Martinez as I am…in all case, pick up The Line by Angel Martinez. It’s a vampire tale you won’t want to miss and one I highly recommend.
*Can’t remember who made this remark at the moment. I will give them credit when my memory starts working again.
Cover Art by Pamela Sinclair. I have to say I am tired of seeing that one model everywhere. You know, the blond one. He’s an elf usually, or an angel. No matter, what he’s emphatically noticed for is being overused. Sigh. Surely, there is another stock model who could be substituted in his place?
ebook, 45 pages
Published December 20th 2013 by Totally Bound
previously published as part of the 50’s Mixed Tape Anthology
ISBN 1781849145 (ISBN13: 9781781849149)