This month is an exciting one for The Phoenix Fiction Writers Collective. We are releasing our first full anthology. We do have a short story anthology free to our mailing list that you can pick up, but this time around we got amazing stories from seven of our eight members all collected around a single theme: antiheroes. A good one, right? Who doesn’t get excited about antiheroes? Apparently I do, because the majority of my characters are classified that way.
The anthology comes out on Saturday the seventeenth (This weekend!) You can pre-order it right now, and I highly suggest you do and start reading it the moment you get your hands on it.
But today I’m here to focus on just one of those stories. Vengeance Hunter by Hannah Heath.
When we were divvying out which stories to review between us authors, I got really excited when I had a chance to snap this up.
Not because I particularly like vampires. In fact, kind of the opposite reason. I know Hannah Heath is a great fan of Dracula and that, out of all the Gothic Horror that I have read and loved, is one of my least favorite. In fact, it’s one of the rare classics that I didn’t fully enjoy. I mean, it has its moments, but this review isn’t about Dracula.
The thing is, vampires in general are just not that scary to me. And most stories I’ve consumed that contain vampire are a bit cliche and they just try too hard. Actually, if you want to see just my take on vampires, this Key and Peele skit “Sexy Vampires” pretty much sums it up.
This is why I got really excited when I found out Hannah was writing a vampire story. Because Hannah has stood out in her work so far as someone who can breathe new life into things that I normally would pass over. Her short stories Colors of Fear and Flames of Courage have redeemed fantasy elves for me. A concept I can’t get behind outside of Tolkien just because it’s tired. And her debut short story, Skies of Dripping Gold, stood out as a very very rare example of Christian Fiction done with excellence.
So yes, I was so excited when I picked up The Phoenix Fiction Antihero Anthology and got to Vengeance Hunter. Bring on a vampire worth the ink!
What a powerful story!
Hannah introduces a world that not only brings something unique to a genre that often has no greater purpose then exploring various kinds of toxic relationships and immortality, she gives us characters we can relate to and empathize with, themes that dig into the heart of love, desperation, guilt, and faith, and a story that will make your own blood pump.
We follow the story of a vampire named Ishtaka who is out for blood. But only if its on her kill order.
To provide precious blood to the vampire population in this world, vampires hunt their own kind. Blood for Blood, as the oft repeated moto in this book says. So when a vampire murders another, they are hunted down and their blood is harvested to feed the starving citizens. Ishtaka depends on her unique skills not only to keep her people off the verge of starvation and madness, and by doing so she hopes to assuage the guilt that follows her. But what if it’s all a lie?
This short story brings its readers face to face with the questions about forgiveness of sins, the lies that keep us chained in guilt, and the truth that can set us free… if we will let it.
I don’t think I can praise this short story enough. It is not just a unique take on an old monster, but a deep look at the monsters inside us. And the love that can overcome them, if we choose.