The metaphoric symbolism of werewolves and vampires has been analysed to oblivion by contemporary society. Werewolves, with their monthly cycle of personality changes and their ability to transform into something unrecognisable, represent the dilemma of being human yet still behaving like an animal. Vampires, defined by a love of the night, an exchange of bodily fluids, and an aversion to religious symbolism, represent the attractive freedom offered by sexual irresponsibility. Consequently, it should come as no surprise that when these archetypical characters appear in the same work of fiction, conflict ensues.
Maybe it’s because I’m a dog lover but I can’t bring myself to dislike werewolves. Even when a werewolf is ripping out a virgin’s throat in a movie, I still keep thinking, “He’s just being a bit playful. Tap him lightly on the nose and tell him, if he keeps doing that, he won’t get any Scooby Snacks. Then give him a tummy rub and see if he’s got a waggy tail.”
Vampires are another thing. Vampires embody excitement and sexual freedom. In erotic horror they epitomise the lust in blood lust. In contemporary horror fiction it’s easy to see the threat presented by the vampire is analogous to the danger of sexual irresponsibility. Fuck without a condom and the exchange of bodily fluids endangers the frailty of human mortality. Fuck with a vampire and run a similar risk of personal catastrophe.
So, what happens when vampires and werewolves come together in the same story?
Well, in “Peacemaker,” the first story in Paige E Roberts’ Bare Throat, Naked Hunger, the conflict seems pretty well established before the start of the story. “Peacemaker”begins in media res, with a protagonist werewolf trying to get away from the human and non-human animals in the concrete jungle, to return to more familiar turf with plenty of trees and she-wolves. What starts as a simple tale of boy meets girl (or dog meets bitch) is complicated by the arrival of werewolf hunters. The potential relationship is further jeopardised when the hero discovers that the she-wolf of his dreams is also part vampire.
Bare Throat, Naked Hunger is efficiently written and should please fans of erotic paranormal fantasy fiction. Paige E Roberts is able to expand on the established vampire and werewolf myths and build fantasy worlds that are richly coloured and multi-layered and cry out to be explored further. In fact, if I had to make one criticism against this book, it would be that all of the stories left me wanting more. This is not to say that Roberts’ stories are not complete, or lack sufficient elements of horror or eroticism. This is my way of saying that each story in this anthology could have been the first chapter for a novella or novel. Roberts creates entire mythological universes, builds characters that fit within these unreal environments, and introduces the reader to one small aspect of their world.
This is illustrated most strongly in “Peacemaker,” where the tribes of skinwalkers (werewolves) are introduced to the reader, along with their history and the bleak outlook for their future. After such an immense creative effort in building this fantasy universe, Roberts could have expanded on this story to produce an epic work that explored more corners of this universe.
A similar criticism could be made against “In Service Immortal,” the second story in this anthology. “In Service Immortal” is the tale of a simple man and his devotion to a very special monarch. The symbolism of mythic fantasy and vampirism is skilfully worked into the narrative. The story is effective, erotic and entertaining. And, again, it would have stood well as the first chapter in a much longer story.If Paige E Roberts wrote this anthology with the intention of leaving readers hungry for more, Bare Throat, Naked Hunger is an absolute success.