The Washington Post reviews Octavia Butler's Fledging.
How strange to find Octavia E. Butler digging up the old bones of this legend. As the first African American woman to make a name for herself in science fiction and the winner of a MacArthur genius grant, she seems an unlikely victim of Dracula's allure. But, as we might expect, her new novel, Fledgling , doesn't just resurrect the pale trappings of vampire lore, it completely transforms them in a startlingly original story about race, family and free will. "I awoke to darkness," the narrator begins. She's naked, badly burned, starving and without any idea where or who she is. She comes upon a group of homes destroyed by fire, but nothing looks familiar amid the cloud of pain and confusion. She can remember basic concepts only by trying to articulate what's missing: a bed, shoes, food. As a narrator, she couldn't seem more helpless, more vulnerable, more innocent. Then she chases down a deer and eats it. We're not in Kansas anymore. Welcome to the creepy story of Shori Matthews, a 53-year-old vampire who looks like a 10-year-old black girl. Suffering from amnesia, she makes a desperate narrator as we follow her on a dangerous journey of self-discovery and survival. She must somehow divine everything about herself from the clues provided by her strange body, the ashes of those burned homes and -- almost immediately -- a group of men trying to kill her. There's not a drop of Bela Lugosi in these pages, but Fledgling exercises the same hypnotic power the old Count projected onto his victims. Squirming in my chair, I was totally hooked, sometimes nauseated, anxious to put it down, but unable to look away. Go back, go back!Hat tip to eafredel.