Monsters are always more terrible when they cannot be seen.
Carmen Taxer and Richard Wheeler’s debut novel, Sanguinem Emere: Bought in Blood tells the story of a family whose history is entwined with that of supernatural creatures. The emphasis on blood hints both at the mysterious Templeton family and at the nature of the creature(s) who keep them. But nothing in this novel is ever that simple.
The story flows from two perspectives – that of Devika Templeton and that of Detective Montgomery.
The madness of Devika Templeton colours her speech and the language she is described in. Nowhere in the novel does the word “vampire” occur except in her thoughts or in her presence. The reader is left to guess the powers of these creatures. The first chapter is written in her voice and initially I found it too flowery and filled with angst. However, the language is perfectly suited to Devika. Her language hints at her madness, but it is never certain if she is a sane person tainted by living in a dark family and world, or if her madness colours her experience of the world around her. Part of the horror is that both might be true. Later, as she begins to paradoxically react more sanely to her situation as it becomes ever more horrifying (swearing being a sane reaction), I found it easier to relate to her manner of speech and follow her pattern of thought.
Another voice in the novel is that of Detective Montgomery. While Devika is reminiscent of an Anne Rice heroine, Detective Montgomery is a typical noir detective. He drinks too much. Has a dry sense of humour. The occasional stinted, incomplete sentence. He has become a parody of a detective that his wife suggested when she bought him a fedora and a trench coat when he was promoted to detective. At the beginning of Bought in Blood he is much saner than Devika. However, his sanity does not remain incontestable – slowly as he becomes embroiled in the Templeton family’s affairs and the Butcher killings continue their inexorable course his behaviour becomes suspicious, or heroic, if you think you can trust him.
If you like reading Anne Rice, you will probably enjoy this novel as well.