Book Cover: Revenance

Blending aspects of vampire myths with other supernatural and psychological archetypes, as well as punk music culture, Revenance presents a dreamlike world of horror and passion.

Reviews:Charles Avinger on Amazon wrote:

Readers accustomed to the plentiful vampire novels and films that have suffused our culture over roughly the past fifteen years will find an entirely different -- and entirely welcome -- work in Alison Armstrong's Revenance. A revenant is one who returns, typically from the dead, most often a spirit or ghost. Here he is a vampire, introduced to readers as he invisibly wanders hospital corridors, satiating his thirst while delivering the lost and helpless from the terror of pain and death. A psychic bond soon forms between him and the protagonist, who calls him her "muse." She longs for deliverance from a mundane life that is killing her soul, a theme prefigured in Armstrong's earlier work, Vigil and Other Writings, in particular "Spills" and "Summoning." Both equate the everyday horrors of family life with the dinner table, but, in Revenance, feeding (of a sort) is celebrated. Once made a vampire, the protagonist is no menacing Lucy Westenra in need of a sound staking, no Claudia doomed by her destiny, and I am pleased to report she does not sparkle in the daylight, either. Rather, she becomes a companion to her "Awakener," as layer upon layer of the undead experience reveals itself. Armstrong's writing style has many strengths, the standout being her exquisitely poetic language. Her description of a toothache is enough to send readers scurrying to the dentist: "His mouth ached....One of his teeth throbbed, a deep-down bone drum pounding a slow, heavy lamentation of bleeding tears." This is characteristic of her writing throughout the book, yet her metaphors and symbols never feel forced: they grow organically, and simply suffuse her style, elevating the book to the realm of "literature," to which vampire novels all too rarely aspire. Armstrong incorporates pop culture (her vampire's favorite DVDs include The Hunger and The Addiction, as well as Requiem for a Dream -- he has good taste) in addition to more "serious" literary writers, characters, and locations -- William Burroughs, Mark Twain, Dylan Thomas, Dorian Gray, the Chelsea Hotel -- though readers unfamiliar with some of these references can still appreciate the work. There is also a genuinely adult treatment of sexuality -- frank and sincere, light years away from certain novels that are so popular right now. This book is highly recommended for readers interested in vampires, fresh literary voices, or simply a satisfying read.

cryptoliteratus on Amazon wrote:

Art hurts sometimes. Like love. Consider Jean Genet's "Our Lady of the Flowers," David Lynch's "Blue Velvet" or the paintings of Frida Kahlo. In each case, beauty and pain are inextricably linked. Now joining their company is a slender little volume by Alison Armstrong titled "Revenance."

The protagonist of this novel lives in a world where pain could well be the only viable alternative to superficiality, stultification and the surrender of one's highest aspirations.

Do me a favor. Resist the temptation to stop reading this review after you see the next word. Vampire. There, it's out in the open now. Yes, this book does feature characters who are vampires. Yes. I know. The vampire bit has been overdone in pop culture. Overkill, you might say. But this book is about as far removed from the facile "Twilight" and its ilk as, well, night from day.

First, style cuts "Revenance" out from the herd. The word choice is poetic. The images are archetypical. Here's an excerpt: "A snake-entwined caduceus looms above the young woman's head. On its right hovers a crucifix--Christ impaled on a stick, writhing, worm-like on the hook of torment."

Second, substance sets the book apart. And above. Far from Twilight's do-gooder morality and the typical mass-media yarn in which vampires and their mortal consorts are drawn to each other chiefly by superficial physical charms, the protagonist of this novel is drawn to her "awakener" more than anything by the repugnance she feels for the shoddy realities of everyday life. Calling out to a vampire may be her only chance of escaping the sordid trap of modern society by experiencing both the intensely animal and the intensely spiritual.

Armstrong manages to pack into this little book an impressive amount of social criticism along with her exploration of the human psyche, working in references ranging from the Disney classic movie "Thomasina" to "Sid and Nancy," from St. Theresa to the tooth fairy. It's so dense that it's like the much-referenced teaspoon of black hole that by itself would weigh more than our solar system.

In conclusion, if you're one of those people who make a point about how you only read "light" fiction because your mind is already so overworked (as if we really believed that!), this book probably isn't for you. But if you like your literature to pose a few risks, maybe even entail a little suffering, than th

Avid reader on Amazon wrote:

This unique, deeply heartfelt novel satisfies both crucial tests for good fiction: it is so readable and compelling from the standpoint of pure interest that it is hard to put down, AND so meaningful, genuine and deep that it qualifies as serious literature. Thus, while it should greatly interest readers of the vampire genre, it is also a great read for those seeking more serious fiction. The novel is beautifully and passionately written, creatively interlacing various aspects of vampire mythology with the punk rock music scene and other plot lines. I found the depictions of the dying victims' earlier lives especially riveting, intense, and deeply sad in a bittersweet way, and wanted more. I could see this as a compelling film as well. Although it can be a fast read, better still to take time and read it slowly so as to be able to digest and savor its subtle content and poetic language. Imaginative, evocative, creative illustration by Jason Felix appear especially apt and fit thebook's content perfectly. I would highly recommend this unusual, well-written novel and look forward to more by this wonderful author.

Dorothy dale couch on Amazon wrote:

Allison Armstrong is a true artist,her book Revenance is mesmerizing and spellbinding and wonderfully creative and refreshing. I enjoyed it immensely. It kept my attention. I really loved it and highly recommend it,to anyone who likes vampire novels.

Charles Avinger on Goodreads wrote:

Vampires in fiction and film take on many guises: evil and destructive (Dracula, "Mrs. Amworth"); transgressive and dangerous (Carmilla, The Vampire Lovers); Romantic and forlorn (Bram Stoker's Dracula, Blood and Gold); conflicted and remorseful (Interview with the Vampire, Dark Shadows, True Blood); and sexually enticing (Vampire Circus). In Alison Armstrong's startlingly beautiful book Revenance, we find a vampire invisibly wandering the halls of a hospital, taking sustenance from the dying who receive his embrace gratefully, relieved to be free of their pain and suffering. This most human yet superhuman of vampires is desired even more, though, by another, the book's narrator, who refers to him as her "awakener." Sick to death of her earthly existence, she finds new life and meaning in her transformation to the undead and in her relationship with her maker. Armstrong's prose is hauntingly poetic, far more literary than most vampire fiction. She draws upon elements from psychology, literature, and pop culture to create a tale that sparkles with an entrancing glow of death, sensuality, hunger, and desire, weaving a dream world through a real world, dancing nimbly between life and death as her characters do. I highly recommend this book to enthusiasts of vampire fiction, horror fiction, and dark lliterary fiction.