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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Vampire Gothic Opera in Poetry~"Ordeal" by T. K. Varenko

Truly this picture does not do the cover of "Ordeal" justice!  It's a gorgeous and shocking cover..grey as death, marbled with veins of red running randomly through it...so unusual. The title is scripted in old world and ornamented as an illuminated letter, each page is topped with a gothic swirl...haunting and beautifully packaged for a fairytale story of vampirish, unrequited love.

The Cover Summary:
It is a verse-ornated story
About love, betrayal, wrath,
Royal vampires' bliss and glory
Bringing them straight to their death.
Luella, fierce, strong vampire,
Falls for a pretty human catch
Sent on her fiancé's desire
To celebrate they are engaged.
This unexpected turnabout
Is doomed to come to a dead end:
Her human sweetheart's dead to shroud;
Her fiancé's avenged for that;
And she is punished for blood treason,
Banished into a mortal child,
Whose human body is a prison
For all her powers to bind.
Her memories obliterated,
She is to find her love at last
Who proves to be too much related
To the misfortunes from her past.

A picture of the lovely T. K. Varenko.  Who now guides students in English writing skills.  Here below is her bio.:

Tatyana's birth as human being
Took place in 1982,
In June, when weather was appealing
And sparkling with the morning dew.
As she grew up, too shy by nature,
Her friends were Pushkin, Dante, Wilde
Who wrote of love and of adventure -
She dreamt of the vampire kind.
As time went by, she took to versing
When she got hardly over ten,
And life was constantly coercing
Tatyana to employ her pen.
The Foreign Languages Department
She joined in 1999
Served as a very good incitement
For her verse writing to refine.
Then the first sketches were laid out,
When she was drawing to 18,
Ordeal began to come about
To lighten up her dull routine.
Now she's working as a teacher
Training her students' English skills
That her department has to feature
And help acquire in the drills.
I'm working on my second novel
Where new skeletons emerge
From the cupboards of the story
Told in Ordeal and on its verge.
It will be more large-scale in action
And introduce the elfin breed
Describing their interaction
With the vampire kind amid.
The two most powerful races
Will meet in fateful intercourse
Unraveling deceitful laces
Woven in love, intrigues and wars.
* * *
I'm also planning on compiling
A book of poems I've composed
That I consider most beguiling
And feel like making them exposed.

My Review:
What a darling volume of poetry cum storytelling.  Reminiscent of vampire opera described in Anne Rice's Vampire Lestat books, Tatyana Varenko's book is immanently enchanting because of its theme and innocence.  I have to confess a special adoration for such little treasures that have a shelf in my library.

As noted in her own verse above, this is the tale of unrequited love between Alice, a past-life royal vampire, and her "pretty human catch," Derek. Fraught with the struggles and angst of young love and dangerous liasons, this little tome is meant for YA audiences, positively.

As an adult reader, I can only applaud Ms Varenko's attempts to put to four meter verse her frothy story of darkness and gothic doom.  While it doesn't quite translate in all circumstances, its naivety is charming and not to be underestimated.  It has much of the impact of Sleeping Beauty and a dark Rapunzel, both caught in a witch's sinister web and tangled in unimaginable dangers.

Her story is told, the gothic nature is preserved, the characters are fleshed out and visible to the reader and its quality is very good.  What's missing is a flow of verse which causes it to be often jarring, interrupting the pace of the story. Further, I felt that Ms Varenko would have been able to give us more of her lush descriptive art had she not be constrained by verse. It took some time to look beyond this mechanical problem to enjoy her book.  A good editor could have helped with this, however.

In addition, I lament that this darling poetry was splashed about with bits of slang and slippage of language.  It distracted, sadly, from the atmosphere I believe Ms Varenko wanted to create.  Again, an editor could have led her to see this. 

I give this example:

"When you were born as a vampire,
You seemed to be designed for throne,
Cruel and cold to all desire,
But then he came -- and all went wrong.

You fell in lovey-dovey frenzy
Not seeing clearly ahead,
Your instincts and your mind got hazy--
The change was definitely sad."

To my mind, the "lovey-dovey" played childish to what was otherwise in keeping with her gothic rendering.

While "Ordeal" is not perfect in every way, it is a perfection of sorts.  Like a strawberry shortcake whose whipped cream has slipped slightly askew, it's still delicious and tasty.  You don't want to miss having a bite, and you can't help savoring every bit of it.  That's what this book is like.  It would make the perfect present for your "Twilight" loving or vampirish collecting friends.

I liked it.  I see it as primarily  a YA book that will be akin to those who love Edgar Allen Poeish poetry in their teens.  And, for those of us who remember and love Poe, it's a skip back to those nostalgic days of Annabelle and the cliffside death.

Charming and darkly gothic...  3.5 to 4 stars.

For more information, please visit the author's site at:
www.elfineness.com/author.html    I found it most intriguing!

The Bookish Dame/Deborah


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