Maria is the vampire novel I didn’t even know I was waiting for. I love horror, but I got kind of vampired out some time ago. That’s because after a while, they all start to look the same. The female characters, vampire and prey alike, are often sexualized objects, helpless to avoid succumbing to wills and powers stronger than their own.
Not so with this book – it gave me chills, I connected to it so deeply. Not because I think I’d ever be as much of a badass as Maria is, although so many parts had me cheering. It was because of her humanity, her faith, her womanness. What she lost to become who she was. The limitations of her human relationships before she’s turned – most vividly, with her husband. The way that relationship is drawn with love, but shows so clearly the way it’s limited her. She suffers a devastating loss at the beginning, which shapes her relationship with what she’s become. Her new life is intrinsically tied with this loss, and combined with her deeply felt faith, becomes her moral compass as she attempts to navigate her new world.
Maria’s revenge quest follows realistic lines, including the pitfalls along the way. There’s an extended cast of characters, all intriguing in their own right, and I can see this becoming an epic series, with a wider focus than is usually seen in monster stories. Her conflict is REAL, but with strength – she is tough and thrilling without being a caricature – she has real relationships with both men and women. She has moments of weakness, and moments of strength, and moments of just being. Maria is the kind of female horror character I want to see more of, and Violet Castro has become an instant buy author.