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Burying The Shadow by Storm Constantine

1/10/2011. Contributed by Pauline Morgan

Buy Burying The Shadow in the USA - or Buy Burying The Shadow in the UK

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pub: Immanion Press, 2009. 395 page enlarged paperback. Price: GBP12.99 (UK), $21.99 (US). ISBN: 978-1-904853-61-9.

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In recent years, vampire literature has been going from strength to strength. The American public seems extremely fond of angels. Not too long ago, the mysterious visitations were all UFOs with the victim being beamed up to be experimented on. Now those wishing that kind of vicarious thrill would much prefer to have a meeting with angels. As angels are usually portrayed as the good guys, it is difficult to have a tension-loaded plot involving them. It has been attempted to varying degrees of success but the plot-lines are limited. Some writers have attempted it. Nalini Singh’s ‘Archangel Trilogy’ is one attempt. Her angels are distinctly dangerous, almost alien in their attitudes to humans. She also has vampires, created by angels as their servants. Fallen angels are better.

Storm Constantine, however, got there first, and with more finesse. Originally published in 1992, this is apparently a fantasy world although the inhabitants refer to it as Earth. Members of the race of the eloim are the artisans, sole creators and performers of art and drama in the city of Sacramante. They live apart from the majority of the population in richly designed and decorated ateliers. Each eloim family has a patron family of humans who are the aristocracy of this society. The eloim live by drinking small amounts of blood from their patrons who benefit from longer lives, better health and erotic pleasure from the process. For centuries, the system has been in equilibrium. Now it is changing. The eloim are falling prey to a malady that is causing them to commit suicide.

Gimel is one of the eloim. She and her brother, Beth, embark on a hunt for a human soulscaper. These specially trained people are able to enter the human subconscious and hunt out and cure mental maladies. Unfortunately, none of the ones they meet are able to go into an eloim soulscape without going mad. In desperation, they decide to find a child at the start of their training and condition them to cope with the eloim mind. The person they choose is Rayojini. During her initiation into her future craft, at the age of eight, she encounters Gimel and Beth as they invade her mind. She perceives them to be her guardian-pursuers. As every soulscaper expects to have one, so Rayojini does not expect hers to be anything out of the ordinary.

As the eloim are virtually immortal, time is on their side and, over the next thirty years, they groom Rayojini for the task they want her to do. Naturally, the plan is not as simple to execute as it is to conceive.

As may be deduced from their name, the eloim are fallen angels. The originals were thrown out of their home plane by their leader and father to Sammael who revolted against the stagnation of their society. In a war between brothers, he lost. For centuries now, Sammael has been incarcerated in a tower. As an added prong to the attack against the suicides, Gimel decides to consult him and draws him back into the world. The eloim are also vampires, but not in the conventional sense, though if their nature was generally known, the antipathy of humans would probably lead to their being hunted down.

The narrative is told from the first person perspectives of Gimel and Rayojini. This proves an effective way of getting across both the human and eloim cultures and shows up the difference in mindset and morality of the two races. It is a pity that the tones of both voices are almost interchangeable. Despite this, ‘Burying The Shadow’ is an engaging and highly original approach to themes that have an upsurge in popularity. If you didn’t catch this book first time round, give it a go now.

Pauline Morgan

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