Sunglasses After Dark – by Nancy Collins

Sunglasses After Dark, by Nancy Collins (New American Library, 1989): A violent, erotic variation on the traditional supernatural vampire. At first the novel appears to be a tale of homicidal psychosis and multiple personality; the Other, Sonja Blue, inhabits the body of supposedly dead heiress Denise Thorne.

In fact, Denise has died, and Sonja, the vampire, a new personality with Denise's memories, has come to birth in her body. Collins postulates a Demonic race known as the Pretenders, who comprise a variety of subspecies that all prey on human beings. The Pretenders are the truth behind vampires, werewolves, incubi, and numerous other legendary creatures.

When a vampire injects his or her body fluids into a victim who subsequently dies, a Demonic entity with no selfhood of its own transforms the victim into a vampire and uses the host's memories to build itself a personality. Sonja, transformed by the aristocratic vampire Sir Morgan, whom she wishes to track down and kill, learns the truth about her kind from an erudite vampire-hunter, Ghilardi, and Morgan's rival, the vampire Pangloss.

To the latter's bewilderment, Sonja has no interest in joining the Pretenders' “Real World” and the vampire subculture, with its game-playing rivalries. Instead, she pursues vengeance for her Denise Thorne self, thereby clashing with Catherine Wheele, fraudulent psychic and evangelist.

Like many contemporary vampire novels, notably The Vampire Tapestry, Sunglasses enlists our sympathy with a creature traditionally regarded as a bloodthirsty monster by Demonstrating that human beings can be guilty of far worse than a peculiar diet and occasional killing in self-defense. Several sequels have appeared.


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