October is the month of Halloween, and it always gets me reading my classics, like the excellent “Dracula” by Bram Stoker and “Frankenstein,” by Mary Shelley. Even some H.G. Wells and Ray Bradbury, my favorites.
We’ve blogged about hemophilia and vampires before. But here’s a twist on vampires in literature from our literature reviewer at large, Richard Atwood of North Carolina, in a book called Orrora.
It’s the outset of autumn in New York City. Joel Powers, an independent film producer with blondish hair and blue-gray eyes, specializes in horror films. Now he’s gathering information for a book by visiting crime scenes to gain inspiration. In particular this one: the third victim of a serial killer called “The Bleeder,” who is found at 40th and Columbus. The killing is coded an unnatural or unattended death, which catches Joel’s attention. At the scene, he spots Ms. Orrora Dalca, a crime expert from Washington. Joel notices Orrora’s thick black hair and greenish-gray eyes. She notices his unusual blood scent. [Ed. Blood scent? Hint!]
The victims of the three ritualistic killings are all males, killed at night with slashed throats from claws, within 48 hours. Orrora meets up with Joel. He’s hungry (and seems attracted to her), so he takes her to a restaurant, where she eats a bloody rare steak [foreshadowing?]. He learns that Orrora was born in the U.S., but grew up in Slovenia, hence her accent. Her deceased father was from the U.K.
Later, a fourth victim is attacked on 11th Street, though Orrora interrupts the attack, and is beaten up. The victim dies. At the crime scene, Orrora finds a pure gold button with a crest that identifies The Bleeder as a Petrescu [a patronymic family name common in Romania… more hints!].
Joel later learns from Orrora that The Bleeder is a woman, because all vampires are female. Orrora reveals that she is 76 years old and a dhampir, or half-vampire, because her mother, who is 112, is a full-blooded vampire, and her father was human. Due to a resistant Y chromosome, a full- or half-blooded female vampire who mates with a male having the recessive gene creates a female vampire.
Now Orrora wants to taste Joel’s blood by pricking his finger; she notices a spiciness in his blood. Joel accepts that Orrora is a half-vampire. Her bruises from the attack heal quickly.
Soon victim 5 turns up; he is Soloman Esterhaus, who Orrora says has an odd blood smell with a rancid taste. Esterhaus, from Seattle, was recently diagnosed with von Willebrand disease, and was in New York City to see a specialist. His VWD causes increased blood splatter at the crime scene.
Orrora learns that The Bleeder is Piedra Olchescu from Bucharest, Romania. Orrora and Joel eventually spend the night together, after an ultra-rare beef dinner—of course! The police learn that all of the murder victims had some form of a blood disease. For vampires, blood diseases are a delicacy. Joel reveals that he has paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH), in which his red blood cells break down, and that the only treatment is a bone marrow transplant. But he has no donor matches and no insurance coverage for a transplant. Orrora believes she has found her blood-mate in Joel, as vampires are spiritually monogamous. While Orrora goes out to find the killer, Olchescu breaks into Joel’s apartment, biting his neck to drink blood from it, before Orrora returns to kill Olchescu. Waking up in the hospital, Joel is given hemoglobin to replace his red blood cells from blood loss and his PNH. Orrora realizes that if she drinks Joel’s blood, she will assume his blood properties, so that she can be his bone marrow donor. So Joel does not become the sixth victim, and, after the bone marrow transplant from Orrora, Joel’s blood smell has changed and he heals faster.
As Richard notes, “It is odd that an individual with von Willebrand disease has to travel from Seattle to New York City to see a specialist when there are experts in his hometown.”
Linda Mooney is a bestselling author and retired Kindergarten and music teacher who lives on the Texas Gulf coast. She writes paranormal romances as Linda Mooney, naughty humorous romance as Carolyn Gregg, horror as Gail Smith, and elementary teacher workbooks as L.G. Mooney. Orrora was self-published in 2017. At 150 pages, it’s a quick read!