So what happens when a nice Jewish boy becomes a vampire?
First of all, if you’re Orthodox, like Chaim Caan, you have an immediate problem. Consuming blood is forbidden. He reaches out to a Rabbi who connects him to an organization that can help him.
And use his new abilities.
What struck me most about this story is that being a vampire is not glamorized in any way. No angsty, sparkly pedophiles here. These vampires are fierce, strong predators. Fortunately for Chaim, he finds his way to an organization that helps him harness the predator he’s become, channeling his aggression into the defense of others.
But it’s not easy. The list of deficits severely circumscribes his life and his relationships. There’s certainly no glamor in dealing with blood breath. He’s also limited in his ability to form relationships. He can’t eat, or go out drinking with classmates, nor can he have a girlfriend. And since he has an indefinite lifespan, anybody he manages to form a bond with will grow old and die, while he remains the same.
It’s a bleak prospect, and Chaim must find a reason to live and to fight off the anger that comes with his transformation.
He’s helped by Mordechai, an older vampire who mentors him, as well as a Jewish organization which acts to defend Jews from persecution throughout the world.
I got the feeling that Carrico has more to say in this world, as there are several questions raised, not least of which is discovering who selected Chaim to be turned and why. Turning rarely happens accidentally; it takes effort.
I don’t know whether Carrico is Jewish or not, but he clearly did his homework as Judaeism permeates every facet of the book. Chaim is devout and observant, and this is well communicated to the reader, so much so that I found myself placing my own Christian faith into a new context. I gained a deeper appreciation for the Jewish faith and those men and women who walk in it. It makes me want to learn more about their faith and their culture.
That’s not what I expected from reading a vampire novel, but it was a welcome surprise!