Written by Christian Roeber, Fanboy Comics Contributor
Wednesday, 24 October 2012 04:53
Sfumato, the tale of a positively ancient vampire reexamining his (un)life, is a well written book, offering particularly excellent art critique and wonderful scenic description but little in the way of gripping, first-person narrative.
To be fair, I feel that I may be biased, simply in that I don’t know if there is a single vampire story left in the world which I would be interested in hearing; however, I still take particular issue with a certain particular in Sfumato. Kat Thomas’ "protagonist," Mr. Glass, is a lonely vampire art critic who has been alive for about ten centuries. He’s unsure how old he is and, indeed, who he used to be due to the way Thomas has reinvented the vampire mythos for her purposes. In all vampire media, it is interesting to see how the creator will balance legend with creative license, and I thought that it was balanced well here. Frankly, Mr. Glass’ ability to overcome several of these archetypes, his aversion to crosses and the sun for instance, are relatively fun to read and unique, which is refreshing. Mr. Glass is highly condescending, which initially proves amusing, but his arrogant nature and lofty opinion of himself wanes as he waffles in ambiguity, and makes amusingly simplistic decisions.
The premise of vampire stories tends to fall into two main types: either the person was recently turned and we discover along with them the challenges of life as the undead, or we examine them at an already supernatural age, allowing us to see humanity from a much more anthropological point of view. Mr. Glass being some 1,000 years old places Sfumato in the latter category, which sadly is my major complaint. It simply seems trite and convenient for a being a millennia old to begin to have any new ideas or awakenings. Glass’ Nietzsche-ian transformation is fueled by nothing more than self-loathing and ridicule, and my suspension of disbelief, which can be extended to include vampires, is unable to process a centuries-old being radically changing his life because a meal called him a “loser.”
True, a vampire story not involving a harlequin romance is a great relief, and I don’t mean to bash what Thomas has accomplished. Indeed, the greater reveal and transformation of Mr. Glass comes near to the end of the book and is done very, very well, but my greatest objection remains. For a being to be so old, and still so mercurial in his philosophical views, just struck me as convenient, a necessary plot point which starts the reader’s journey but which is entirely unsupported by the character’s character. Thomas is a very gifted writer, in particular the descriptions of various locals and art are sublime, and there is a very good chance that I just can’t look at anything vampire anymore without a preconceived lethargy, but all in all, I do recommend Sfumato, not as a vampire story but as a clever life vs. loss story.
Sfumato is an eBook by Kat Thomas which may be read online at Smashwords.