Review: SLAY: Stories of the Vampire Noire

Authors: Nicole Givens Kurtz, Sheree Renne Thomas, Craig Laurance Gidney, Milton Davis, Jessica Cage, Michelle Tracy Berger, Alicia McCalla, Jeff Carroll, Steven Van Patten, Penelope Flynn, Lynette Hoag, Steve Van Samson, Ekpeki Oghenechovwe Donald, Balogun Ojetade, Valjeanne Jeffers, Samantha Bryant, Vonnie Winslow Crist, Miranda J. Riley, K.R.S. McEntire, Alledria Hurt, Kai Leakes, John Linwood Grant, Sumiko Saulson, Dicey Grenor, L. Marie Wood, L.H. Moore, Delizhia D. Jenkins, Colin Cloud Dance, V.G. Harrison
Publisher: Mocha Memoirs Press
Released: October 13th, 2020
Received: NetGalley

4 kitties

I received a copy of Slay in exchange for a fair and honest review.

SLAY: Stories of the Vampire Noire is a massive collection of, well, vampire stories, Each and every one of them is focused on and celebrates the African Diaspora.

There are a total of twenty-eight short stories in this collection. Yes, you really did read that right! There are legit almost thirty stories revolving around vampires in SLAY, and each one is totally unique from the rest.

I’ll review each short story in greater detail down below, but I would like to talk real quick by how impressive this collection is. The variety of vampire tales is, quite frankly, striking. Some are more classic vampire perspectives, while others take a deep dive into different eras or takes on the fanged world.

Desiccant by Craig Laurence Gidney
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

“Red drops of old blood hung in the air, hovered. Then, they burst open.”

The first story in SLAY is titled Desiccant, and it’s actually the perfect story to launch with. It’s freaky yet fascinating, portraying a different sort of vampire. Or more accurately, the hunting methods of one, and their preferred targets. It’s wonderfully written, with a compelling narrative that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Love Hangover by Sheree Renee Thomas
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

“She had tasted death and knew she would always live, in one form or the next, like the singer resurrected in the record’s groove.”

Music and vampirism – there’s something so intriguing about that combination. It’s a combination we’ve seen time and time again, and yet it’s not something that I think I will ever get sick of. Sheree Renee Thomas created a fascinating tale here, one that is wonderfully representative, while also showcasing different levels of affection and attention that comes with humanity.

The Retiree by Steven Van Patten
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

“Hello beautiful people! I’m Cathy Reynolds and I’ll be handling your check-in. Welcome to Shady Meadows!”

Simply reading the title of The Retiree was enough to give me chills, and set my expectations for what was to come. The story did not let me down. It was dark, but not in the ways I expected. Actually, this story didn’t end up flowing at all how I would have guessed, and that made me love it all the more. It was so incredibly clever.

The Dance by L. Marie Wood
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

“I shook my head against my feelings, against her, but she stared back at me still, her gaze unwavering.”

The Dance deviates a little bit from the creepier tone of this collection, leaning more towards erotic horror than just pure horror. It’s a nice bit of variety, while also exploring vampire (and human) nature.

A Clink of Crystal Glasses Heard by LH Moore
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

“Blood for blood, they kept telling her over and over again, and that was the extent of the knowledge that she had.”

Vampire lineage, expectations, and family life are all portrayed within A Clink of Crystal Glasses Heard. It was a fun and quick tale, one I thoroughly enjoyed. Also, I have to say that I absolutely adored the title itself!

Diary of a Mad Black Vampire by Dicey Grenor
Rating: ⋆ ⋆

Warnings: Animal death

“I never acquired the taste.”

I’ll confess that I had a lot more trouble getting into Diary of a Mad Black Vampire, though that was likely thanks to the animal death that immediately occurred. That’s always off-putting to me, even in the context of vampires. Still, I did love the format and method of storytelling used in this one.

The Return of the OV by Jeff Carroll
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

“We are not supposed to be out here by ourselves. I can’t even see Holly Mansion”

This was an interesting read, though admittedly probably not one of my favorites. I like how it made you think though, even while I struggled to get into it. Despite that, the ending left me wishing for more.

The Last Vampire Huntress by Alicia McCalia
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

“Kendra, my beautiful Black Queen, I’ll destroy and kill everything or everyone you chose over me.”

The Last Vampire Huntress is exactly the story I imagined when I saw the cover of SLAY, so in my head, this is the embodiment of the collection. It’s dark and chilling, following a determined woman deal with a corrupted ex and so much loss. It was wonderfully written, and I would have happily read an entire novel about it.

Gritty Corners by Jessica Cage
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

“My name is Kyla and that was how my life as a vampire started, a discarded, unfinished meal of a reckless vampire.”

Set in a world where careless meals can create more vampires, Kyla is a woman determined to have her revenge. Revenge and vampires go perfectly hand and hand, and thus Gritty Corners made for an excellent read.

Shadow of Violence by Balogun Ojetade
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

“Sloppy, or overconfident, enough to leave a light on.”

Shadow of Violence is an evokative title, and it certainly sets the scene for what is to come. This is probably one of the most action-filled stories, at least in feeling. It was another fun and quick read, with lots of little twists.

‘Til Death by Lynette S. Hoag
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

“Amondi was listed in the phone book and with 311 simply as “Vampire Assassin.”

That one line right there was enough to make me smile, and fall in love with ‘Til Death, at least a little bit. The whole story read with this tone of voice, creating yet another compelling tale about vampires and creatures that live in the dark.

Encounters by K.R.S. McEntire
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

“My husband had been dead for twenty years when I saw him at the airport.”

I honestly think that Encounters may just be my favorite from this entire collection. The start of it immediately pulls you in, and it does not let you down. It reminded me a bit of Tuck Everlasting, but with a vampire twist. It was, in short, perfection.

Unfleamed by Penelope Flynn
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

“She shifted her head to the left. There it was again. The smell, that familiar olfactory sensation. She tried to crane her neck in the direction it came from but lost the trail…just like before.”

Okay, if you’ve read any of my other vamp-oriented reviews, then you know that I’m a sucker for vampire politics stories. That is exactly what I got in Unfleamed, and thus, obviously I adored every moment of it. It also portrayed a different side of vampire life (unlife?) that will leave you wondering, which is always appreciated.

Beautiful Monsters by Valjeanne Jeffers
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

The informant was wrong. And daylight is coming

If you’re looking for a read involving a deeper dive into vampire lore, then Beautiful Monsters is the read for you! Bonus points for including an endearing bookshop, and other concepts that I was truly carried away by.

Frostbite by Delizhia D. Jenkins
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

“Three days after my hospital admission, I woke up on a cold, metal slab, locked away in a shelf awaiting.”

That quote accurately sums up all of the chills and emotions that Frostbite caused me. It was such a perfect vampire story, I’m almost at a loss for words here. It was every bit the awakening story I had been hoping to find here.

Di Conjuring Nectar of Di Blood by Kai Leakes
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

“Habit made her flick her tongue over the surface, tasting a lingering, robust, and vibrant burgundy essence.”

The descriptions alone make Di Conjuring Nectar of Di Blood worth reading. Everything else is simply icing on the cake – a lot of icing, in this case. I devoured this short story, and no, I didn’t miss the irony in that statement.

Snake Hills Blues by John Linwood Grant
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

“They found Ruby,” said the younger woman, hesitant on the threshold.”

Honestly, I think I adored every little bit about Snake Hills Blues. It was the ideal twist on a lot of vampiric tropes, all while creating a story that in many ways, felt so real and so very human. John Linwood Grant’s evocative writing really brought this one to life.

Ujima by Alledria Hurt
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

“She made a choice and she would defend it, to the death if necessary.”

Family ties, responsibilities, decisions, and loyalty. Those are all themes in Ujima. But it’s more than that as well. There is such a quality to Hurt’s writing. It reminded me of a fractured fairy tale, but in the best of ways. I would have loved nothing more than to read more from this world.

Attack on University of Lagos, Law Faculty by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

“Somebody rushed to the door and turned the handle, in vain. The door was locked.”

If you’re looking for a short story with a whole lot of action, then the odds are good that you’re looking for something like Attack on University of Lagos, Law Faculty. The title alone speaks volumes, as it really does feel like a non-stop battle.

His Destroyer by Samantha Bryant
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

“The city was so altered that she was no longer sure which direction would lead to her home, so she made her way toward the river instead.”

His Destroyer is one of those short stories that would have been significantly improved by having a longer time to set the scene. And that’s coming from somebody that enjoyed the story! What I’m trying to say is; I want more. I loved the location, the characters, and every other detail that was made available. I would simply like more of all of it.

Quadrille by Colin Cloud Dance
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

“Being a vampire is hereditary. When I turned thirty, I developed a thirst for blood that culminated in me murdering my lover.”

I’m always intrigued by stories that tell of vampirism being hereditary. That was the case here, in Quadrille, but what really made this one stand out is the storytelling format. It’s almost nonlinear in the way the story actually unfolds, but that made it all the more interesting in my book.

Asi’s Horror and Delight by Sumiko Saulson
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

“The impundulu or lightning bird was a vampiric familiar, a shapeshifter who often appeared as a blood-drinking bird.”

Honestly, there’s so much going on in Asi’s Horror and Delight that I’m really not sure where to start. Vampires, witches, and so much more are found within these pages, and it left me wishing for a more solid understanding of their interactions. Still, it was a fascinating read.

In Egypt’s Shadows by Vonnie Winslow Crist
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

“You gave her the chance to join us, said Nawa. “She declined.”

I love the concept of obsession and the need to let go and move on. It was so strong in this story, In Egypt’s Shadow. It was lovely, and I think really hit the nail on the head for the type of vampire lore they were trying to portray here.

Rampage by Miranda J. Riley
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

“You have a way with animals, shiri diki. Be proud of your gift.”

Now this is a story I really enjoyed! It kind of reminded me of World of Darkness, as so many different creatures of the night worked together. Also, who can say no to animals that also happen to be vampires? Not this girl, that’s for sure.

No God But Hunger by Steve Van Samson
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

“As the plague spread, so did things like panic, chaos, and finally, a long silence.”

The apocalypse meets vampirisim in No God But Hunger, as vampirism is revealed to be a plague upon man. It’s a concept I’ve seen a few times, but honestly? I don’t think I’ve seen it done as well as what I just read here. It was clever and dark, and I really enjoyed every moment of it. Fortunately, it is apparently connection to Steve Van Samson’s book, The Bone Eater King. Gotta look into that!

Bloodline by Milton J. Davis
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

“That lance would spit a streak of angel fire that would smoke both of us in seconds”

Bloodline kind of shocked me, if I’m being honest. Not because it was bad, or because of anything like that. Simply because of how much it stood out. I’ve never seen vampires and science fiction blended in such a way! It was delightful to see something so new and different. The concept of vampires being the only humanoid species left, all while other creatures (inquisitors) taking control, is intriguing, and worthy of more literature.

Message in a Vessel by V.G. Harrison
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

“The younger you were, the more protected you were.”

Another science fiction story! This one is also set in the far future, where food has become scare. Not for humans, but for vampires. That has resulted in a different sort of food rationing, and it’s enough to make you stop and think.

Blood Saviors by Michele Tracy Berger
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

“She had only seen earth elementals once at the gathering of the Sovereign Societies ball when she was a child.”

Magic and elementals meet vampires in this totally unique story. It even stands out in context of this collection, diving deeper into the world of fantasy and more. Still, it had a lot of positive notes and and messages within, and I really did appreciate that.

About Liz (AKA Cat)

I am an avid animal lover, photographer, reader, and much more. While my photography blog is feeling a bit neglected at the moment, the other sites I'm involved in are going strong. ✧I review books, comics, and basically anything else in the literary world over at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks (of Books). ✧I review comics and books, as well as write content for Word of the Nerd. ✧I review comics for Monkeys Fighting Robots. ✧I write content for Screen Rant and CBR. ✧I write book reviews for The Review Crew.
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1 Response to Review: SLAY: Stories of the Vampire Noire

  1. Pingback: Reviews are rolling in for Slay: Stories of the Vampire Noire Anthology! - Alicia McCalla

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