Edited by: Russell B. Farr
Published by: Ticonderoga Publication
Page Count: 502 pages
Where to buy:
Amazon, Indie Books Online and other fine book retailers
“33 fantastic tales, 502 pages, 140,000 words. All about vampires in Australia.”
Hello Ghouls and Boils,
Ticonderoga Publications in Australia has put out some terrorific books. They tend to have quality authors and the books themselves are beautiful (great covers and binding and paper quality). So, I was excited to receive a package from them. While going through and determining who reviewed what, it was a pretty easy choice when it came to “Dead Red Heart”. I handed it off to our resident undead expert, Alanna Quinn. So I shall now leave you in her capable icy grip! Enjoy, my fiends!
Sarah L. Covert
After reviewing Carnies by Martin Livings, I became interested in the vampire mythos possibilities in the “Land Down Under”. My impression is that Australia is everything most settings for vampire novel locations aren’t: dry, brutal and not lush unlike the European and Big Easy sorts of ways.
This collection by Ticonderoga Publications contains 33 tales that were diverse – not only in their creatures but also the varying landscapes where these creatures are found. The stories definitely use more of the continent of Australia than Uluru and the eastern coastline.
Martin Livings returns with “The Tide”, in collaboration with Alan Baxter, Felicity Dowker, Patty Jansen, Devin Jeyathurai, Chuck McKenzie, Andrew J. McKiernan, Lezli Robyn, Daniel I. Russell, Carol Ryles, and Kaaron Warren. This is a tale of immigration and the hardships of establishment in a harsh and hostile environment. Imagine the rough time vampires are going to get after the media finds out about the body count when the vampires are about to get the equivalent of refugee asylum. What is notable at the end (that will be a continuing feature throughout the book) is the afterward by the author. I appreciate that Dead Red Heart gives another forum for authors to express themselves either about their work or any collaborative input they were given. It is a nice touch and I like it as a bonus, especially if the tale I finished was not particularly fantastic but I do not want to write-off the author.
“Behind the Black Mask” by Jacob Edwards mentions Ned Kelly, which brought to mind the Mick Jagger portrayal of the legendary bushranger and the image of the metal armor he wore to withstand being shot at. Edwards blended history with his tale of a bloodsucker from the bush with a nod to Ned Kelly’s capture. The bulk of this showed Australian colonial attitudes through the military and how that would prove to be hazardous when dealing with creatures that were not part of the colonials’ heritage and comprehension. This reminded me a bit of what I had come across in a previous review ( A Zombie’s History of the United States ) where the examples are of the American settlers not taking a clue from the Natives regarding zombies; eventually they catch on albeit much later.
Seeing how these vampires adapt to their environment to survive and what they go through to get their needs taken care of has been an interesting learning experience. According to their nature, vampirism is primarily a condition of consumption, and this collection expands on what these predators’ habits are. “The Little Red Man” by Raymond Gates is my current pick of atypical vampire behavior; while the circumstances are nothing new, its use was clever and quirky. When I got to the end and reached the afterward to the story, the author spoke of the Australian vampire legend of the Yara-ma-yha-who; it is a creepy little beezer, and definitely not a melancholic type with white skin and nice hair.
With “Desert Blood” by Marty Young bringing back Yara-Ma and “Breaking The Drought” by Jay Caselberg introducing the Wandjina from the DreamTime of Aboriginal creation stories, the vampire stories from Australia are both very rich in myth and psychology, the last particularly because even if I didn’t like the characters, I wanted to read about them if for no other reason than to see how their stories would finish up. It is possible, for me at least, to find a character utterly horrible and still find them worth reading about, provided they are interesting.
I have been fortunate in this volume not only to be entertained but to actually learn something as well. I recommend Dead Red Heart for readers without a fixed notion of what monsters should be like (or at least the ability to put those notions aside). Non-Australian cultures contain similar themes and myths (Adolf Bastian, a 19th century multidisciplinarian or polymath, called these commonalities in Elementargedanken or “elemental ideas”), but, due to regional proximity, these have their own heritage stamp. These are cool stories and I believe anyone with an interest in world cultures will enjoy the folkloric as well as the modern ideas in this book. I give this collection 4 out of 5 tentacles.
Alanna Quinn, Minion (Reviewer/Columnist)