Monthly Archives: January 2012

Nice Secular Vampire Shakes Things Up in the Mormon Suburbs

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Devoted Mormon mother, Rachel Forsythe is married to a supportive, loving husband who is also the bishop of their ward.  But not even he, with his formidable priesthood powers, can seem to save their youngest daughter who languishes in the  hospital with a mysterious terminal illness.

Enter Milada Daranyi, a young single woman who  moves into the rental next door in their Sandy, Utah neighborhood.  The chief investment officer of  Daranyi Enterprises, Milada is in Salt Lake City  to take over a medical technology company.  Not just a good capitalist, Milada is an excellent vampire:  In a way that would make Stephenie Meyer proud, Milada’s sustenance comes from the University of Utah’s blood bank’s stores, where her vampire sis works as a doctor.

When Rachel sees Milada successfully bring a bee-stung neighborhood kid out of  anaphylactic shock, Rachel wonders what Milada can do her daughter.  In chapters alternating between Rachel’s and Milada’s respective points of view, Woodbury weaves the lives of these two very different women together in close and transformative ways.

Key Quotes:  “As happy as Milada was with her Ozzie and Harriet accommodations, it occurred to her that Mormons might take some getting used to” (34).

“She looked inside herself and found no doubt at all.  And if she’d come to believe as well that the albino lady down the street was four-plus centuries old and could perform a miracle on her dying daughter that no doctor could?  Why not exercise that faith” (141).

What Makes it Mormonal:  Milada notes the Utah-sounding names (LaDawn), Fast Sunday is observed, Rachel refers to her husband as “the bishop,” boys visit Milada’s house collecting fast offerings, full-time missionaries pay a visit to Milada

What Makes it Marginal:  Rachel resents her husband’s busy bishop’s schedule, Rachel is internally negative and openly “grouchy” about the monthly fast Sunday ritual, mild sex scene between Rachel and “the bishop,”

My Two Cents:   A paranormal medical and family drama written with a straight face, Woodbury takes a big chance with incongruity which could come off as silly but almost never does.   Essentially, he’s written a feminist novel, where  a woman, in a patriarchal religious context, is the one who takes over and performs the narrative’s necessary miracle when the area’s conventional powers (hegemonic religion, conventional medicine) have failed, which, come to think of it,  is another big reason this novel is “marginal.”

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