Do you remember that time period, roughly fifteen years ago, when vampires were everywhere?
I am going to take you back to the novel that started it all, Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight. In 2005, we met sullen and somber Isabella “Bella” Swan (admittedly, she was never one of my favorite protagonists) and the glittery, glowering Edward Cullen (I still swoon a little). All hell broke loose the minute Edward came swooping in with his Volvo, rescuing Bella from a group of townies with sexual assault on the brain. My knees still buckle when I think of this scene (from the book, not the movie. Pattinson’s trying-to-hard murderous glare was just…weird, in my opinion). Suddenly, there was barely a single person left on the planet that was not enamored with their catastrophic love story. People who rolled their eyes and thought that the rest of us that read stories about vampires were weird and goth, all of sudden became vampire fanatics. Vampires were, dare I say it – cool. A memory that still enrages me to this day, as I recall getting made fun of for my love of Amelia Atwater-Rhodes and Anne Rice novels. Trends, man. But I digress. Those feelings are better suited for an entirely separate blog post. Moving on from my lingering teen angst.
The Twilight frenzy continued for a while, spawning movies. TV stations took a hint from its success and adapted other vampire books (i.e. Vampire Diaries). But somewhere along the line, the vampire craze died down. While we still have certain shows that feature vampires, the shows are less focused on the actual vampires themselves and more on the entire supernatural realm. Think witches, werewolves, etc. I find that books (especially) about vampires, are few and far in between.
Enter Autumn Lindsey’s Remaining Aileen, the true reason for this post.
I decided to bring you back to the Twilight craze because Autumn’s inspiration for her debut novel was in part due to the Twilight Saga. Only this time, we leave high school and a brooding vampire behind and enter the world of vampire adults. Enter a humorous, sultry vampire who is not trying to smother our main character with possessive stares and an irrational overprotectiveness that would make even a helicopter mom cringe. (Yes, I am looking at you, Edward).
We meet Aileen as she is preparing to leave her husband and two adorable daughters for a weekend to celebrate her thirtieth birthday in Florida. Right off the bat, I relate to Aileen as she warily eyes a bathing suit she is not sure will flatter her post-child body, but shoves it in her suitcase anyway.
However, Aileen never makes it to Florida, barely surviving her thirtieth birthday as one of the many victims of a devasting plane crash. Yet, she wakes up practically unscathed.
Thanks to her new status as a vampire.
Aileen tries desperately to resume her normal life, and Autumn allows us to laugh and even feel some envy, as Aileen can clean her whole house in mere minutes thanks to vampire super speed. Or the fact that her body, once marked with the evidence of childbirth, has now become supple and taut. She never gets tired. Imagine that? Being a wife, a mother (of two children, no less) and Aileen can take everyday head on, with no fear of exhaustion creeping into her bones.
Ah, yes. The catch. There is always a catch. Aileen may have superpowers most of us mothers only dream of, but every day she faces the insatiable urge to feed on her own family; particularly, her delicious husband, Phil.
And remember that charming vampire I mentioned earlier? Donovan Sellers. That is all you need to know. I refuse to spoil the rest for you.
Throw in a craftily woven subplot that includes mysterious deaths piling up in her neighborhood. Is it Donovan? Is it a serial killer? Aileen herself?
Autumn Lindsey’s debut novel is a fast-paced, elegantly written story about a woman’s journey to mold together two lifestyles: the woman and mother she was before she became a vampire, and the new vampire mom/wife she is now. And I found myself thinking, isn’t that what we, as mothers do all the time? Try to find the semblance of ourselves that existed before we took on this new and exciting (albeit exhausting) role of motherhood? I have seen the vampire metaphor used in many ways, but never to parallel motherhood. And Autumn hits the nail right on the head.
If you are looking for a new book to read this summer, Remaining Aileen is something worth sinking your
fangs teeth into.