It's Pride Month and every day, N. N. Light's Book Heaven will feature a book and an author from the LGBTQ+ community. I'm so excited to introduce you to a fellow author who writes contemporary gothic (how cool is that?). Her Redcliffe series is so addictive and I highly recommend. This one is one of my favorites.
Title: Vampire of Blackpool
Author: Catherine Green
Genre: Contemporary English Gothic / Urban Fantasy
The vampire, the witch, and the hunter battle it out in a contemporary Gothic adventure in Northern England.
Meredith Hanson lives in Blackpool, the former Victorian holiday hotspot of Northern England. She masquerades as a reclusive author, feeding on the blood of unsuspecting tourists without remorse. Her life takes on new meaning when she meets a young witch in a local pub one evening. Despite Meredith’s cold demeanor, she finds herself oddly fascinated with Samantha Morris, and falls into an accidental relationship with the girl. It is at this time that a vampire hunter arrives in Blackpool. He is tough, he is determined, and his next target is an ancient vampire that has been spotted in the tourist town. He intends to bring her down and destroy her to save the lives of innocent humans. Will he succeed? Or will the experienced vampire seductress be the cause of his undoing?
As I walked slowly along the Victorian promenade, hidden in the shadows and looking out to sea, I became aware of a presence some distance behind. I knew it was a man, and I knew he was following me. Smiling, I continued walking, careful not to betray my knowledge of him. His steps were strong and firm, and I realised that he was not simply another intoxicated tourist. In fact, he seemed intent on following me, with a strange determination to his aura. Frowning, I reached out with my senses, and was surprised when I could not enter his mind. He was not a witch, nor a shape shifter, but I could not penetrate the iron barrier that he mentally erected. Curious, my steps slowed, and so did his. I decided to take a look at this strange creature.
Looking up, I saw the ornate ironwork of the promenade, newly restored by the local council authorities. I leaped up, landing on a broad metal bar, and I stepped lightly across to where the man was now standing. He had stopped when I disappeared, and I saw him lift his head to try to locate me. He knew I had jumped into the rafters. He knew what I was.
A sudden panic struck my chest, and I caught my breath. Who was this mysterious man? What did he want with me? Keeping myself in the shadows, I held on to a bar and crouched down so I could see his face. He looked human. His skin seemed pale in the reflected light from the streetlamps, his eyes were dark but I sensed that their colour was blue, and his features were handsome. He had a rugged jaw, and his body was tall and muscular. He was clearly a body builder of sorts, although I felt his sport was more likely to be that of martial arts, or something that required agility and cunning. I inhaled his scent, drawing it deep into my throat, tasting him around the pervading odour of sea salt.
“I know you are up there,” the man said suddenly, and I stifled a gasp, crouching still and silent, “Come out and face me, vampire.”
He was a hunter. I knew immediately by the bitter tone of his voice, and the courageous nature of his words. For the first time in over seventy years, I was facing a vampire hunter who wanted my head on his sword. I felt nothing. I could easily dispatch of him. I had done so with all the other vampire hunters throughout the centuries. In the early years they truly believed in the power of crosses, holy water and garlic. At first these tools had caused a little discomfort, but I had learned to overcome them.
Wooden stakes were still a problem. There was something about wood that simply disagreed with a vampire’s body. It was one of the few materials from which we could only heal at human speed, unless it pierced our heart, in which case it killed. We had the same problem with pure silver. The metal contained a natural repellent, and it worked for both vampires and shape shifters. We were still unsure of the reasons why. Our ancient texts and teachers believed it was all tied to the magic of the moon. All I knew was that I avoided coming into contact with wood and silver at all costs.
The man paced a few steps in a tight circle, looking up to where I crouched in the shadows. He knew I was here. He was not about to give up. I found myself intrigued. I could descend upon him now and kill him immediately. I would drop his body into the ocean and nobody would be any the wiser. But I still smarted from Samantha’s attack earlier that evening. Despite my crazed feeding in the nightclubs, I felt weakened, exposed. I was also angry. How dare such a young upstart as her do that to me? I warned her that she was in danger, and still she pursued me. It was her fault. She brought it on herself.
The anger that had been bubbling just below the surface suddenly burst forward, and I hissed, leaping down from my perch and aiming for the vampire hunter. I landed on his shoulders almost immediately and he crumpled to the floor with a shout, sprawling in the soft, dry sand at the very edge of the beach.
Crushing my arm across his throat, I dragged him back onto the concrete pavement beneath the promenade. We were concealed from view, free to fight our battle in isolation. The man grabbed at my arm, trying desperately to loosen my grasp. I hissed and snarled at him as he struggled. Before I could stop him, he flicked a silver blade from a knife he had concealed in his sleeve. I screamed as the blade sliced across my skin, forcing me to release his neck and fall back onto the ground, clutching my wounded arm. He was on his feet almost immediately, and I realised that this was no ordinary vampire hunter. This man was well trained, prepared for our attack. He had set himself up as my victim and now he intended to take me out. I would not allow that to happen.
Before he could stab me with his knife I leaped forward and smacked it from his hand, sending it flying across the beach and disappearing from view. I snapped at him, trying to bite his skin, but he blocked me with skill and practiced agility. We grappled and fought, rolling around on the ground, and I began to enjoy the fight. It had been so long since I had felt anything, and tonight I had tasted the sweet blood of a witch, the strong power of ancient magic, the sheer exhilaration of anger and frustration. Now I simply revelled in the activity, and I toyed with the hunter, first allowing him to hit me, then returning his blows. Every time he tried to pull out a weapon I smacked it from his grip, until I was certain he could be carrying nothing more.
Paperback is available from Amazon.
Author’s Thoughts on Pride Month and/or Diversity in Books:
I like to think that I don’t set out to include diverse characters in my books. I don’t intend for them to present as lesbian, gay or bisexual, for example. Those are just facets of their personalities. Pride month has become something quite important on a personal level, for reasons that I cannot explain at present due to the privacy of people close to me. Suffice to say that I believe we should all live and let live. As long as we don’t hurt people, why should it matter whether we are straight, queer, or something else?
Author of British paranormal romance series The Redcliffe Novels, Catherine Green was raised on books from a young age and has happy memories of Saturday mornings spent in her small local library, devouring the contents of the shelves. Catherine has always been fascinated by the supernatural world, and it feels natural for her to write about vampires, werewolves, witches and other mystical creatures in her contemporary stories.
Social Media Links:
If you sign up to Catherine’s newsletter, she will send you a free copy of her Redcliffe short story, It’s Complicated, to introduce you to her fictional supernatural seaside town in Cornwall, England.
You can find Catherine in the following places:
Pagan Housewife blog