He might be immortal, but artist Ernst Doud detests his state of being. The method he must use to stay alive fills him with guilt and makes him more a monster than a man. Although his loneliness is crushing, Doud has found that all his attempts to transform a lover to immortality have resulted in disaster, so Doud has chosen to live solitary life. The only person he is close to is his friend Shelly, the jaded and outspoken owner of a Los Angeles art gallery.
When a man appears at Shelly’s gallery searching for Doud, Doud knows that Sergio has finally found him. Decades ago, Doud converted Sergio into a creature like himself in the hopes of having eternal love and companionship, but instead of remaining his gentle lover, Sergio became a bloodthirsty beast. And now that beast is seeking revenge against the one who made him and who subsequently tried to kill him.
Fearing for Shelly’s life now that his old lover has seen her, Doud snatches her away from her everyday world and runs. He wants to keep his friend safe from a monster who won’t think twice before draining her dry. But when Doud’s own hunger increases and his control grows thin, can he also keep her safe from himself?
When I opened M. Christian’s Running Dry for the first time, I expected yet another vampire story. A little extra angst, perhaps, and a GLBT twist but bloodsucking creatures of the night nevertheless – the same old same old. To my surprise and delight, I was completely wrong. This story about love, hunger, self-control, and the terrible cost of immortality is a fresh and intriguing take on the ever-popular vampire. This novel strips vampires of the pointy teeth, holy water aversion, and extreme photosensitivity that we have come to expect and instead offers readers a creature who is a hybrid of human and monster, whose sensitivity and emotions make him real but whose visceral need to kill makes him terrifying as well.
Mr. Christian has a literary and precise writing style that brings the action and the emotion into sharp focus and makes both the story and its characters feel completely real. He writes the way we might think, sometimes slightly stream of conscious but always intelligent and comfortable to read. He very expertly shows instead of tells, giving readers a chance to share in the discovery experience, drawing us in to the story until we feel almost a part of it.
Running Dry is one of those books that begins at a deceptively slow pace but then builds momentum as it goes along. Its short chapters keep the story moving forward at a fast clip, offering many tiny cliffhangers that keep us in constant suspense. I also found myself connecting with both the emotion and the horror of the story. The character Doud’s mental anguish permeates the entire narrative, coloring the simplest items in bleak tones. But even though Doud earns our sympathy, we can’t help but acknowledge the monster within him, because parts of the story are quite gruesome indeed.
I found Running Dry to be a very good read indeed and especially enjoyed its message. Carpe diem, this story tells us. Love is a rare and wonderful thing; use the time that you have in this life to find it instead of reaching for the unattainable. Because where is the joy in a life lived alone?
- Reviewed by: Bobby D Whitney