Strange Horizons, April 7, 2014

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Strange Horizons, April 7th, 2014

“Snakebit” by Amanda Downum

Reviewed by Alicia Cole

“Snakebit” by Amanda Downum paints a Texan gothic palette. Lanie, the protagonist, is the survivor of a snake-bit clan: wanderers and murderers, the lot of them. She’s left holding on to her bucolic life – raising horses and children – longing for the ghost of her brother Cody and the truth behind his disappearance. Downum’s writing is beautiful, but her vampiric twist falls flat. I was hoping for a different conflict – southern gothic vampires are a bit too en vogue as of late. The story arc holds the right note – southern speakeasy juxtaposed with the stale safety of the homestead – while the conflict between the protagonist and antagonist doesn’t ring completely true, nor does his part in the denouement. Lanie’s finale is a hard breath of smoke. The prose drips honey and whiskey over an opened wound. Lovers of southern gothic and vampire tales will enjoy this story.

Alicia Cole is a speculative and literary writer of fiction and poetry. Updates on her writing may be found at