12th May 2011
A Vampire in Whitechapel by Scarlet Blackwell
A Vampire in Whitechapel is the latest short story offering from romance novelist Scarlet Blackwell and her first for e-publisher Untreed Reads. Blackwell is a part-time novelist and full-time male model talent scout whose previous offerings include several other vampire tales, such as Love Bites and The Vampire’s Prisoner.
A Vampire in Whitechapel is her first horror short story and marks an interesting departure from her traditional romance stories, which often feature homoerotic themes because Blackwell believes “the only thing better than one attractive man is two attractive men. Or possibly three.”
Personally, I wholeheartedly agree and when that attractive man happens to be an undead gentleman, all the more interesting!
Without giving too much away, the story posits that a vampire, Abel, is prowling the streets of Whitechapel at the same time as Jack the Ripper and tells the story of the East End’s most notorious serial killer in a very neat little summary from the perspective of a high class and reluctant blood sucker.
Abel comes across as a denizen of the night who trawls the Whitechapel streets looking for victims because he has to, not because he wants to, and is somewhat reminiscent of Terry Pratchett’s Otto Chriek, the teetotaller vampire photographer of Ankh Morpork.
While Abel is less hysterical than Chriek, he does make an effort to keep his victims alive, repeatedly emphasising that he is at a different end of the monster scale to the Ripper.
The book also shows a very well-researched knowledge of the Ripper murders, which will appeal to anyone who has a fascination with London’s most famous serial killer. The fact that it is presented in a contemporaneous tone makes a nice change to the average Ripper story, which are almost always written in the past tense.
Short stories are a tricky genre, where the novelist needs to squash an entire story into just a couple of pages and throw in an interesting little twist. Roald Dahl did it extremely well and Blackwell obviously has the talent for this difficult format.
She doesn’t spend too much time dissecting the Ripper’s five murders but neatly drops in the key facts, whilst setting the tone of what the Victorian East End looked like.
If you have a spare hour and an e-reader, I would heartily recommend that you pick this one up. A Vampire in Whitechapel is out now and you can buy it from Untreed Reads for $1.50.
Recommended for: Those of you who have a fascination with Jack the Ripper and fancy a story written from a truly original perspective.
Other recommended reading: Terry Pratchett’s The Truth has a great parallel in reluctant vampires, while those interested in Jack the Ripper can check out Donald Rumbleow’s The Complete Jack the Ripper.