It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact time and place the vampire genre was resurrected from its grave. But by the time the first Twilight book was turned into a movie, it seemed like there was more blood-sucking going on than at a mosquito convention.
So it takes some real creativity to put a new spin on the genre. Enter Aris Returns: A Vampire Love Story by Devin Morgan. A clinical hypnotherapist, Morgan has integrated her knowledge of the subconscious with a meticulously crafted historical landscape and a romantic relationship drama.
The result is an enjoyable vampire tale for people not into vampires, and a historical romance for people who aren’t into history. It stems from well-drawn characters and an ever-progressing plot.
The protagonist is Sarah, a Chicago-based hypnotherapist who is given the challenging task of counseling Carlos, a troubled young man who is trying to escape his gang past and difficult home life.
Sarah has her own problems, but she’s able to put them on hold during sessions with Carlos. She begins putting him under with the hopes that his subconscious will reveal keys to helping him improve.
What she doesn’t see coming is that Carlos appears to have regressed to a past life where he is not only living in the time of Alexander that Great but that he is a member of the undead.
The historical portion of the book jumps several centuries to the time of Anne Boleyn, and Morgan appears to have done her homework when it comes to getting the look and feel of the period.
Meanwhile, back in the present, Morgan’s story deals with Carlos’ escalating issues and Sarah’s somewhat dysfunctional personal life.
Already interesting enough, Morgan adds a sci-fi element to her time-leaping tale that is unique in the vampire genre.
Yes, there are several twists, and the ending will surprise you. But the reason Aris Returns works is that the fate of Sarah, Carlos and Aris is what’s most intriguing. Morgan has created such realistic characters, even the supporting ones, that the fantasy elements don’t seem as out of place as they do in lesser works.
Without giving anything away, Morgan’s debut novel appears poised to be the first in a series. What she has set in motion could easily continue over the course of several novels, while remaining fresh and exciting.