No, it’s not Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. I’m talking about tandem by Tracey Bateman.
Now, if you’re like me, seeing vampire fiction at your local Christian bookstore may raise eyebrows. I’ve been dismayed by hearing girls at church argue whether a friend should join Team Edward or Team Jacob. To me, vampires — no matter how homogenized for popular consumption — are murderers with fancy teeth.
But while the premise for tandem seems borrowed from Twilight, the author does not import the teen angst and rampant sensuality of that book and movie franchise. There is a strong romantic attraction between a widowed missionary and his high school sweetheart who is struggling to care for her ailing father. But there’s not a lot of lust mixed in with the bloodlust of the vampires threatening the small town in which this novel is set.
Much of the story revolves around Amede Dastillion, a centuries-old vampire who is desperately searching for her wayward sister Eden, who is imprisoned and tormented by an unknown madman. Amede is pulled in opposite directions by the two people (vampires) she loves most. Her father found a relationship with God, then endured a slow, agonizing death when came to see drinking blood as an abomination. Eden feels no guilt whatsoever in killing humans and her very proximity awakens a killing instinct that Amede must battle to resist.
Oh yeah, did I mention the voodoo? The Dastillions are served by generations of assistants from one family because of a voodoo curse.
While this mash-up of horror show plot devices seems over the top, Bateman actually is a very talented writer. She builds suspense masterfully throughout her tale, and makes you care for the characters in tandem. I found myself moved by the plight of the incarcerated Eden even though she had inflicted terror for hundreds of years.
Ultimately, there is some justice and redemption portrayed at the end of the story. But biblical truth is not communicated strongly even by the book’s missionary character. When it comes down to it, a vampire doesn’t have anything in common with the Savior. Vampires take the blood of the innocent to serve themselves. Jesus shed his blood for the guilty to serve them.