It Was the Best of Lines, It Was the Worst of Lines is a new feature which I hope will appear from time to time here on a day in the (reading) life. I’ll be spotlighting what I think are some worthwhile, and some dismal, first lines from books and short stories as I come across them, sometimes with my accolades or scathing commentary, as appropriate. Other times I may let the lines just speak for themselves. Hope you enjoy! Comments and opinions, for and against (it’s a free country, y’all), are always welcomed as long as we all stay respectful.
“When Elena told people she was a vampire hunter, their first reaction was an inevitable gasp, followed by, ‘You go around sticking those sharp stakes in their evil putrid hearts?'”
Nalini Singh, Angel’s Blood.
Ugh. I know I’m probably going to catch some heat from Nalini Singh’s fans and paranormal romance (i.e., bandwagon lit.) readers, but come on peeps! This isn’t exactly the kind of sentence that inspires one to bated breath and the anticipation of what’s to come. Trite, trite, trite, banal, banal, banal, and just all-around lazy, boring writing. “You go around sticking those sharp stakes in their evil putrid hearts?” sounds like crappy dialogue from a Buffy the Vampire Slayer rip-off.
Now, granted, I only read the first line (and a few more in the next paragraph where Singh’s character refers to “the idiot fifteen-century storyteller who’d made up that [staking] tale in the first place”), so maybe Angel’s Blood is meant to be campy fun. I wouldn’t know though because I couldn’t get past those initial paragraphs. If you want campy bloodsuckers, Charlaine Harris does it much better.
I’m not sure what 15th century “idiot” Singh’s referring to (the first literary appearance of the vampire is widely credited to John Polidori’s 1819 short story, “The Vampyre”, although vampire-like beings can be found in folklore all the way back to ancient times), but for my money Bram Stoker and, to a lesser degree, Anne Rice, did vamps best and darkest. And dark is the only way a vampire should be (none of those sparkly Twilight chaps for me, thanks). Stoker is, well . . . Stoker. ‘Nuff said. And Anne Rice, for all her verbosity and tendency toward melodrama, created a character in Lestat that has endured for years and set the standard for vampire assuredness and cockiness (and yes, Tom Cruise did get it right in the movie, and I’m no Cruise fan).