Review: “The Night Inside,” Nancy Baker

Pros: Interesting vampire novel
Cons: Didn’t entirely hold my attention
Rating: 4 out of 5

Nancy Baker’s The Night Inside is a 1990s vampire tale. Dimitri Rozokov has been asleep for 90 years, only to wake up and be taken prisoner. He’s held in a cell in an abandoned asylum, and history student Ardeth Alexander is not the first abductee to be brought in as a blood source to keep him alive. But she is the first one to come to the conclusion that becoming a vampire like Rozokov is the only way the two of them can get free. She was always a dedicated, precise student, but the lust for blood causes her to cut loose. And when she and Rozokov escape, and he abandons her to make her own way, she re-makes herself–only to find that the life of a vampire isn’t so easy. Just to start with, the people behind those who took them prisoner are still after them. And Ardeth’s sister Sara refuses to believe she’s dead.

This isn’t the most engrossing tale ever, and it has a fairly relaxed pace. But it’s still nicely written. The characters are what bring this alive, the slow drawing of hunger and guilt and rage. Rozokov is an interesting figure, capable of being seductive but hiding among the street people when he realizes he’s not sure how to fit in after being asleep for 90 years. I like that while Ardeth tried to remake herself as a vampire–and somewhat succeeded–there’s still a trace of her old self there. And her relationship to her sister Sara isn’t entirely straightforward or easy, no matter how much Sara wishes to find her sister.

Also, while Ardeth would rather not kill to feed, accidents do happen, particularly early on when she isn’t entirely in control. This leads to some additional problems for her. There’s a weird sort of incestuous vibe between her and Rozokov–they kiss like lovers, but he calls her daughter or child a couple of times. Also, there’s some dark sexual material in here, so be aware of that before you decide whether to read this. In the beginning those who hold the vampire captive are using him to make snuff films while they wait for instructions from their employers for what to do with him. Which… is just weird, and feels kind of unlikely and random, and thus a bit contrived.

This isn’t a fast-paced book, but whether that’s a negative or not depends on your mood or tastes. I found it a little slow, but it unfurls well.

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