Cover Image: SLAY

SLAY

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

A nice mix of short stories. I would have liked for the stories to be more spread out through the three categories - Americas/Europe, Africa, and Future. I would have loved to see more in the future category as I think they were my favourite overall. 

There were plenty of great stories in this book, but still a handful I didn't really like and another handful of "okay" stories (mostly in the first section). 

I will make sure to check out the authors of the stories I really liked.
Was this review helpful?
This is a collection of stories  told around vampires and vampire slayers.  For the most part the stories are really good and quite original for such an overdone genre.  Great fun!
Was this review helpful?
’SLAY: STORIES OF VAMPIRE NOIRE—[Edited by Nicole Givens Kurtz]— is a revolutionary anthology celebrating vampires of the African Diaspora. SLAY is a groundbreaking unique collection and will be a must-have for vampire lovers all over the world.’
 
My Favorites: 
 
’Desiccant’ – by Craig Laurance Gidney 
 
’The Retiree’-  by Steven Van Patten – Love It!
 
’A Clink of Crystal Glasses Heard’ – by LH Moore – Love it!
 
’Diary of a Mad Black Vampire’ – by Dicey Grenor 
 
’The Last Vampire Huntress’ – by Alicia McCalla 
 
’Gritty Corners’ – by Jessica Cage 
 
Shadow of Violence – by Balogun Ojetade – Love it!
 
’Encounters’ – by  K. R. S. McEntire – Love it!
 
’Unfleamed’ – by Penelope Flynn 
 
’Frostbite’ – by Delizhia D. Jenkins 
 
’In Egypt's Shadows’ – by Vonnie Winslow Crist 
 
’Rampage’ - by  Miranda J. Riley 
 
’Message in a Vessel’ – by V.G. Harrison – Love it!
 
Thank you, NetGalley and Mocha Memoirs Press, for loaning me an eGalley of  SLAY: STORIES OF VAMPIRE NOIRE in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I enjoyed this book!

All the stories consist of vampire, vampire hunters and magical creatures.

Some of the stories stood out more than others but all of them have a wit to them.

I hope there are more books in this vein and the publishing of this book shows that there is an appetite for these kinds of stories.
Was this review helpful?
It’s been a while since I picked up an anthology, and I couldn’t resist Slay: Stories of the Vampire Noire as my undying love for Buffy and vampires in general kicked its way to the surface; even though I don’t read a lot of vampire fiction these days, they’re still my favourite type of monster. What makes Slay stand out is its aim to highlight and celebrate diverse voices, as well as protagonists of the African Diaspora, offering near thirty stories that differ from one another, but involve the common theme of vampires and vampiric entities. Segmented geographically, each tale falls respectfully into the categories of US and UK, Africa and lastly, the future. I didn’t like or didn’t connect to all of them, but there were still those that stood out.

Desiccant by Craig Laurance Gidney was a strong opening that centered around odd happenings in an apartment building, while The Dance by L. Marie Wood submerged the reader in an erotic encounter between two strangers. Diary of a Mad Black Vampire by Dicey Grenor packed a punch, and Encounters by K. R. S. McEntire brought to life a memory. Frostbite by Delizhia D. Jenkins told of a disturbing family secret, and Snake Hill Blues by John Linwood Grant introduced a formidable heroine. No God But Hunger by Steve Van Samson described a desperate hunt gone wrong, and Message in a Vessel by V. G. Harrison depicted an unsettling future.

The above were notable, but below were my top three:

Love Hangover by Sheree Renée Thomas – Delilah was something else, something more ancient.
Frankie meets the other-worldly Delilah, soon becoming entangled in a relationship of deadly desires. So much was packed into this one, and when I think back I recall how impressed I was that it felt so much longer than it was, much like a fully fleshed out novel. I thoroughly enjoyed the 70’s disco scene, as well as the overall spotlight on music and how vividly it served as an escape. The first-person POV immersed me completely; Frankie’s obsession and pining for Delilah’s affections, it was tragic, and I couldn’t help but feel for her.

Ujima by Alledria Hurt – First came the rain, then the heat of summer, then the Master as the nights grew longer.
Imani’s new life in the cadre is turned upside down when she reunites with someone close to her heart. I was immediately pulled into this world, and wanted to know more. It reminded me of the urban fantasy novels I used to love; a heroine to admire, going against the odds. The way it was written was captivating, from that opening scene, to the ending that seized my heart. The surviving bond to family that doesn’t quite die is a common trope for the undead, but it was executed brilliantly here.

His Destroyer by Samantha Bryant – She was to be the instrument.
Dienihatiri awakens to find herself a weapon of revenge. This was a unique spin on biblical lore, specifically the tenth plague of Exodus. I’m a fan of retellings and making something new out of already known legends, it encourages me to dig further and compare. The emotion illustrated here demonstrated how terrible supposed retribution can be. I found it totally engrossing and mystical, with a dark and disturbing tone.

In conclusion: Slay: Stories of the Vampire Noire dedicates itself to vampire lovers, providing something for every type of reader. I’d say that the horror is quite tame in most, but that’s a personal opinion as everyone has different standards on what they expect from the genre. In any case, there’s a wide variety that explores the struggles and turmoil surrounding the mortal and immortal both.
Was this review helpful?
I thoroughly enjoyed this anthology.  There were some stories I enjoyed more than others, but each brought a different take of vampire lore, drawing from Afrocentric mythologies and cultures. I also LOVED that this anthology was so queer as well. I want this to be made either into a live action anthology or an animated anthology because I feel the stories really do set themselves up to be presented in more than one medium.
Was this review helpful?
This was a wonderful anthology of short stories! I've read a few this year, and this may be my favourite so far. I read it in the spirit of Halloween, and I am so happy I did as it's the perfect read for it. The anthology focuses solely on vampire tales from across the African diaspora. The anthology is split into three sections: UK/America, Africa and Future. I found this to be a nice touch and I like that it organised the tales according to diaspora/ theme as this wasn't something I had previously considered in the sense of how different story plots would be affected according to where they are geographically in the world, as well as time wise (although looking back, of course it would be). 

The stories were all so richly imagined, with some tales revolving around a killer vampire elephant, as well as another about a murderous disco vampire siren killer (one of my favourite stories!). Each story was so unique and although I didn't enjoy every single one, I appreciated the imagination in each story. 

I loved that every single main character was black, as this isn't something that I have frequently encountered with regards to vampires. It was certainly very refreshing to read. My favourite section was the Future section, as although I'm not a massive fan of science fiction, I thought the stories in this section were the most captivating and enthralling to read. 

My only criticisms were that I thought some of the stories ended unnecessarily abruptly. It seemed rushed and slightly lazy of some of the writers, particularly since the stories were really engaging prior to that. This isn't really a criticism but a lot of the stories I really wanted to read so much more about! It's not that these ones ended abruptly, just that the stories were so brilliant that I wanted it to be a full blown story. 

I would say if you're looking to diversify your bookshelf and you love anything to do with sci fi or fantasy, 100% this is the book for you. Also, the front cover? Possibly my favourite of the year.

Many thanks to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I am very envious of the job that Nicole Givens Kurtz had with SLAY because I cannot imagine the joy of getting to read so many works of art and I can guess how many Kurtz read that did not make the cut. 

As usual, I let my finger roam the contents page and the first story was definitely a treat though some might look at it like a trick (laugh). I started with Diary of a Mad Black Vampire by Dicey Grenor and I have to confess that I found nothing “mad” about Ashanti. Her logic made sense to me, so what does this say about me I wonder? (laugh) The format of diary entries made the story entertaining as did the progression of Ashanti and Tetra’s relationship. I kind of guessed the ending, but it still made the story entertaining.

Vonnie Winslow Crist gave me an unexpected ending In Egypt’s Shadow. Obsession can lead people down a dark path and its recipient of such adoration onto another path. I loved Crist’s take on this vampire tale and the twist. I hope to see more from Crist.

I am on my knees and begging for more! Please tell me that there is more after Message in A Vessel. I am hooked. V.G. Harrison’s sci-fi dystopian thriller is fantastic. Holy sugar! It is like an entire book within this short story and I am craving more. I don’t want to give anything away, but this story is a must read!

Slay is not your ordinary vampire anthology...it is better! Make sure this collection of stories is part of your Halloween reading.

I received an ARC of this book and I am writing a review without prejudice and voluntarily.
Was this review helpful?
https://druidcat.wordpress.com/2020/10/28/slay-stories-of-the-vampire-noire-ed-nicole-givens-kurtz/

NetGalley kindly provided a review copy of this book, but my opinions are my own.

‘Slay’ is a vampire anthology unlike any I’ve read – and I’ve read quite a few! It focuses on black protagonists, with stories divided into sections based on which country they take place. This is neither all-white or all-UK/American, and is refreshingly contemporary.

This book arrived just as I was about to start a month of hospital treatments, so it became my companion every day. It’s a good-sized book, but I usually read a story or two at a time – because I often had to pause between each tale to think on what I’d just read!

The majority of these stories are excellent, really A+ writing for their original settings and memorable characters. These are far more than black caricatures; most protagonists have fully-realized histories, motivations, families and friendships sketched excellently over their limited pages. This book has a lovely undercurrent of community, with each tale managing to share space in both the supernatural world and that of the real.

At first, I actually began to not quite believe my eyes – was this an anthology with no ‘bad’ stories? The first third were all remarkable, and I’ve made notes of their authors to follow up.

But then I found a couple of chapters that seemed to have (oddly) missed out on an editor. The storylines seemed interesting, but I couldn’t get past the errors or writing style. This may be an issue with this being a review copy, but it was a shame nonetheless.

Stephen King once said that while novels were akin to a relationship, short stories were a loving kiss from writer to reader. These are kisses that I’ll remember fondly and gladly revisit.

Huge thanks to the editor who made this all happen, and the authors who shared their worlds with this jaded old vampire fan – and reminded me why I love this genre all over again.

Definitely recommended.

[Link to Amazon listing included]
Was this review helpful?
Slay: Stories of Vampire Noire presents readers with a collection of vampire stories that often get overlooked, stories that are important, diverse, and engaging; stories from Black voices.

One of the things that is made immediately clear with this anthology, from the very blurb on the back using the phrase Diaspora, is that even though the stories in this collection are united by their blackness, that there is a huge difference in how that plays out in these stories, and what it means to be Black for different people. Diaspora refers to the forced dispersal of a people from their homeland, in this case it would be of peoples from Africa during the Transatlantic Slave Trade that took place over hundreds of years. 

This seems to play out in the division of the stories within the book, with three main sections that inform and influence the stories within, those set in the United States and Britain, those set in Africa, and those that look to the future. These sections take some very different experiences of being Black, and the hopes for Black communities in the future, and uses them to inform the work within.

The very first story in this collection, 'Desiccant' by Craig Laurance Gidney, lets readers know right away that this book isn't going to have stories that you'd be instantly familiar with if you don't read diverse fiction, and that not every vampire in these stories will be the kind you recognise. The story follows Tituba, a young Black trans woman, who's been forced to move into the run down and forgotten Bellona Heights Apertments after being thrown out of her last place thanks to the transphobic views of her sister's boyfrind. 

Tituba is having to scrape by in a building where it's reinforced how little society thinks of her, a trans woman of colour. She receives scorn and muttered insults from the others who live in the building, and no one seems to take her seriously when she notices that she and other residents are getting sick. The cause of this sickness seems to be a strange rust-coloured powder that she finds coating many of the surfaces in the building, a powder that seems to sometimes move on its own, and comes out at night. Through her investigation she comes to believe that this dust is somehow draining the residents, leaving them sick and dying. Despite having figured out the cause of this sickness the story leaves Tituba facing this danger alone, knowing that no one will be coming to help her, because of who she is, and how little the world cares about Black bodies.

'The Retiree' by Steven Van Patten jumped out at me because it felt a lot like this was the kind of story that could both be the end of a longer series, and the start of something more to come. It follows Gideon Hastings as he is being taken to stay in a retirement home by his daughter Mona. Over the course of the story Gideon comes across as a grumpy, displeased man, one who isn't happy with where life has led him, or the choices his daughter has made. However, over the course of the story we learn that there is something more to Gideon than meets the eye.

It transpires that Gideon is an old demon hunter, one who has killed a lot of vampires and monsters over his younger years. However, he knows that one day the forces of darkness will be coming for him to enact revenge. Having made his home on consecrated ground he's been safe most of his life, but now that he's in a retirement home he's open to attack from these evil beings. Gideon's story here feels a lot like the final chapters of a series of monster hunting stories, one where readers finally get to find out what fate awaits a man who's never lost a battle against the forces of evil, but can't fight forever. It also feels a lot like this could be a great jumping on point to a series, a pilot episode for a show where a young Black woman discovers her father was a demon hunter and decides to take on his mantle and continue the fight following his passing. Either way, it's definitely a story where I found myself wanting to read more about Gideon and his family, and wanting to see more of the world that Steven Van Patten managed to craft in these few pages.

This kind of feeling was also present in 'Beautiful Monsters' by Valjeanne Jeffers, who's story felt like a small part of a much broader tapestry; and one that was instantly grabbing. In this story we follow Sanyu, a vampire living in the wild west style town of Passion, where monsters rule the streets. Passion is run by the Adze, a type of vampire from Ewe folklore, who oppress the other supernatural beings who live there. 

Sanyu is a member of the underground resistance, who are fighting against the Adze to gain better rights and free the other oppressed supernatural beings from their evil grip. The story follows her over the course of a night where her mission goes wrong, and she's forced into open conflict with these deadly creatures. As with the previous story I talked about, this one feels like it's taking a small step into a much bigger world, one that brings together a number of different folklore's and myths in new and interesting ways.

'His Destroyer' by Samantha Bryant is one of my favourite stories in the entire collection, despite being one of the shortest included. The story follows Dienihatiri, a woman who has been beaten to death following the birth of her daughter, for having displeased her husband by giving him another daughter instead of a son. The story opens with her suddenly regaining consciousness wrapped in a burial cloth, left for dead. Crawling from her grave, she finds the streets of her home city deserted, but it is in this city, on the bank of the Nile, that she discovers a bright pillar of light in the darkness, a pillar of light that calls her it's destroyer.

Walking through the sleeping city she thinks of how Pharoah has been given chances to do the right thing, been given warnings from a higher power, but chose to ignore them. It's then that she realises that she's the punishment that has been sent upon him. Walking through the city she is driven away from the homes with blood above their doors, made to feel sick. But those that don't, she is drawn to, to the sleeping first born sons within, whose blood could help sate her desperate hunger.

The idea of throwing a vampire into the myth of Moses and Ramses II, to have a vampire created by the powers of heaven stalking through the streets, killing the first born sons of Egypt, is a bold move. I would have never have thought to combine these two ideas, but it really, really works. The idea of blood being what drives her away from certain homes, yet her desire for the blood of others that drives her to her targets is brilliant, and makes it so that I'll never look at this story the same way again.

Steve Van Samson's story 'No God But Hunger' that's included in this collection actually fits into his Predator World series, and features his character Mirhèla Nanji as she travels across the African Savannah tracking down a leopard. She and her companion are hunting the big cat down for food, trying desperately to survive in a world more than two decades into a vampire plague that has all but eradicated the human race. However, when the hunt goes wrong, Mirhèla finds herself fighting off a swarm of deadly vampiric children.

Slay: Stories of Vampire Noire brings together a lot more stories than this, and I could have talkes about how good they all are all day; but I had to draw a line somewhere. The stories in this book feature new tales that stand on their own, as well as stories that tie into bigger series and other novels. The stories subvert traditional themes and tropes, they draw upon African culture and heritage, and focus on a group of people that often don't get given the chance to star in this genre. We have Black vampires, Black vampire hunters, and everyday people drawn into nightmare scenarios, who get to take the spotlight in a series of stories that will have you adding a load of new authors to your list of people whose work you need to check out. A brilliant, and much needed collection.
Was this review helpful?
this was a really well done anthology, i loved the unique voices of the stories and enjoyed getting to know the characters.
Was this review helpful?
SLAY: Stories of the Vampire Noire is a massive collection of, well, vampire stories, Each and every one of them is focused on and celebrates the African Diaspora.

There are a total of twenty-eight short stories in this collection. Yes, you really did read that right! There are legit almost thirty stories revolving around vampires in SLAY, and each one is totally unique from the rest.

I'll review each short story in greater detail down below, but I would like to talk real quick about how impressive this collection is. The variety of vampire tales is, quite frankly, striking. Some are more classic vampire perspectives, while others take a deep dive into different eras or takes on the fanged world.

Desiccant by Craig Laurence Gidney
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
“Red drops of old blood hung in the air, hovered. Then, they burst open.”
The first story in SLAY is titled Desiccant, and it's actually the perfect story to launch with. It's freaky yet fascinating, portraying a different sort of vampire. Or more accurately, the hunting methods of one, and their preferred targets. It's wonderfully written, with a compelling narrative that will keep you on the edge of your seat.


Love Hangover by Sheree Renee Thomas
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
“She had tasted death and knew she would always live, in one form or the next, like the singer resurrected in the record's groove.”
Music and vampirism – there's something so intriguing about that combination. It's a combination we've seen time and time again, and yet it's not something that I think I will ever get sick of. Sheree Renee Thomas created a fascinating tale here, one that is wonderfully representative, while also showcasing different levels of affection and attention that comes with humanity.


The Retiree by Steven Van Patten
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
“Hello beautiful people! I'm Cathy Reynolds and I'll be handling your check-in. Welcome to Shady Meadows!”
Simply reading the title of The Retiree was enough to give me chills, and set my expectations for what was to come. The story did not let me down. It was dark, but not in the ways I expected. Actually, this story didn't end up flowing at all how I would have guessed, and that made me love it all the more. It was so incredibly clever.


The Dance by L. Marie Wood
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
“I shook my head against my feelings, against her, but she stared back at me still, her gaze unwavering.”
The Dance deviates a little bit from the creepier tone of this collection, leaning more towards erotic horror than just pure horror. It's a nice bit of variety, while also exploring vampire (and human) nature.


A Clink of Crystal Glasses Heard by LH Moore
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
“Blood for blood, they kept telling her over and over again, and that was the extent of the knowledge that she had.”
Vampire lineage, expectations, and family life are all portrayed within A Clink of Crystal Glasses Heard. It was a fun and quick tale, one I thoroughly enjoyed. Also, I have to say that I absolutely adored the title itself!


Diary of a Mad Black Vampire by Dicey Grenor
Rating: ⋆ ⋆
Warnings: Animal death
“I never acquired the taste.”
I'll confess that I had a lot more trouble getting into Diary of a Mad Black Vampire, though that was likely thanks to the animal death that immediately occurred. That's always off-putting to me, even in the context of vampires. Still, I did love the format and method of storytelling used in this one.


The Return of the OV by Jeff Carroll
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
“We are not supposed to be out here by ourselves. I can't even see Holly Mansion”
This was an interesting read, though admittedly probably not one of my favorites. I like how it made you think though, even while I struggled to get into it. Despite that, the ending left me wishing for more.


The Last Vampire Huntress by Alicia McCalla
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
“Kendra, my beautiful Black Queen, I'll destroy and kill everything or everyone you chose over me.”
The Last Vampire Huntress is exactly the story I imagined when I saw the cover of SLAY, so in my head, this is the embodiment of the collection. It's dark and chilling, following a determined woman deal with a corrupted ex and so much loss. It was wonderfully written, and I would have happily read an entire novel about it.


Gritty Corners by Jessica Cage
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
“My name is Kyla and that was how my life as a vampire started, a discarded, unfinished meal of a reckless vampire.”
Set in a world where careless meals can create more vampires, Kyla is a woman determined to have her revenge. Revenge and vampires go perfectly hand and hand, and thus Gritty Corners made for an excellent read.


Shadow of Violence by Balogun Ojetade
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
“Sloppy, or overconfident, enough to leave a light on.”
Shadow of Violence is an evocative title, and it certainly sets the scene for what is to come. This is probably one of the most action-filled stories, at least in feeling. It was another fun and quick read, with lots of little twists.


'Til Death by Lynette S. Hoag
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆
“Amondi was listed in the phone book and with 311 simply as “Vampire Assassin.”
That one line right there was enough to make me smile, and fall in love with 'Til Death, at least a little bit. The whole story read with this tone of voice, creating yet another compelling tale about vampires and creatures that live in the dark.


Encounters by K.R.S. McEntire
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
“My husband had been dead for twenty years when I saw him at the airport.”
I honestly think that Encounters may just be my favorite from this entire collection. The start of it immediately pulls you in, and it does not let you down. It reminded me a bit of Tuck Everlasting, but with a vampire twist. It was, in short, perfection.


Unfleamed by Penelope Flynn
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
“She shifted her head to the left. There it was again. The smell, that familiar olfactory sensation. She tried to crane her neck in the direction it came from but lost the trail...just like before.”
Okay, if you've read any of my other vamp-oriented reviews, then you know that I'm a sucker for vampire politics stories. That is exactly what I got in Unfleamed, and thus, obviously, I adored every moment of it. It also portrayed a different side of vampire life (unlife?) that will leave you wondering, which is always appreciated.


Beautiful Monsters by Valjeanne Jeffers
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
“The informant was wrong. And daylight is coming”
If you're looking for a read involving a deeper dive into vampire lore, then Beautiful Monsters is the read for you! Bonus points for including an endearing bookshop, and other concepts that I was truly carried away by.


Frostbite by Delizhia D. Jenkins
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
“Three days after my hospital admission, I woke up on a cold, metal slab, locked away in a shelf awaiting.”
That quote accurately sums up all of the chills and emotions that Frostbite caused me. It was such a perfect vampire story, I'm almost at a loss for words here. It was every bit the awakening story I had been hoping to find here.


Di Conjuring Nectar of Di Blood by Kai Leakes
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
“Habit made her flick her tongue over the surface, tasting a lingering, robust, and vibrant burgundy essence.”
The descriptions alone make Di Conjuring Nectar of Di Blood worth reading. Everything else is simply icing on the cake – a lot of icing, in this case. I devoured this short story, and no, I didn't miss the irony in that statement.


Snake Hills Blues by John Linwood Grant
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
“They found Ruby,” said the younger woman, hesitant on the threshold.”
Honestly, I think I adored every little bit about Snake Hills Blues. It was the ideal twist on a lot of vampiric tropes, all while creating a story that in many ways, felt so real and so very human. John Linwood Grant's evocative writing really brought this one to life.


Ujima by Alledria Hurt
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
“She made a choice and she would defend it, to the death if necessary.”
Family ties, responsibilities, decisions, and loyalty. Those are all themes in Ujima. But it's more than that as well. There is such a quality to Hurt's writing. It reminded me of a fractured fairy tale, but in the best of ways. I would have loved nothing more than to read more from this world.


Attack on University of Lagos, Law Faculty by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
“Somebody rushed to the door and turned the handle, in vain. The door was locked.”
If you're looking for a short story with a whole lot of action, then the odds are good that you're looking for something like Attack on University of Lagos, Law Faculty. The title alone speaks volumes, as it really does feel like a non-stop battle.


His Destroyer by Samantha Bryant
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
“The city was so altered that she was no longer sure which direction would lead to her home, so she made her way toward the river instead.”
His Destroyer is one of those short stories that would have been significantly improved by having a longer time to set the scene. And that's coming from somebody that enjoyed the story! What I'm trying to say is; I want more. I loved the location, the characters, and every other detail that was made available. I would simply like more of all of it.


Quadrille by Colin Cloud Dance
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
“Being a vampire is hereditary. When I turned thirty, I developed a thirst for blood that culminated in me murdering my lover.”
I'm always intrigued by stories that tell of vampirism being hereditary. That was the case here, in Quadrille, but what really made this one stand out is the storytelling format. It's almost nonlinear in the way the story actually unfolds, but that made it all the more interesting in my book.


Asi's Horror and Delight by Sumiko Saulson
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
“The impundulu or lightning bird was a vampiric familiar, a shapeshifter who often appeared as a blood-drinking bird.”
Honestly, there's so much going on in Asi's Horror and Delight that I'm really not sure where to start. Vampires, witches, and so much more are found within these pages, and it left me wishing for a more solid understanding of their interactions. Still, it was a fascinating read.


In Egypt's Shadows by Vonnie Winslow Crist
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
“You gave her the chance to join us, said Nawa. “She declined.”
I love the concept of obsession and the need to let go and move on. It was so strong in this story, In Egypt's Shadow. It was lovely, and I think really hit the nail on the head for the type of vampire lore they were trying to portray here.


Rampage by Miranda J. Riley
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
“You have a way with animals, shiri diki. Be proud of your gift.”
Now, this is a story I really enjoyed! It kind of reminded me of World of Darkness, as so many different creatures of the night worked together. Also, who can say no to animals that also happen to be vampires? Not this girl, that's for sure.


No God But Hunger by Steve Van Samson
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
“As the plague spread, so did things like panic, chaos, and finally, a long silence.”
The apocalypse meets vampirism in No God But Hunger, as vampirism is revealed to be a plague upon man. It's a concept I've seen a few times, but honestly? I don't think I've seen it done as well as what I just read here. It was clever and dark, and I really enjoyed every moment of it. Fortunately, it is apparently connected to Steve Van Samson's book, The Bone Eater King. Gotta look into that!


Bloodline by Milton J. Davis
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
“That lance would spit a streak of angel fire that would smoke both of us in seconds”
Bloodline kind of shocked me, if I'm being honest. Not because it was bad, or because of anything like that. Simply because of how much it stood out. I've never seen vampires and science fiction blended in such a way! It was delightful to see something so new and different. The concept of vampires being the only humanoid species left, all while other creatures (inquisitors) taking control, is intriguing, and worthy of more literature.

Message in a Vessel by V.G. Harrison
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
“The younger you were, the more protected you were.”
Another science fiction story! This one is also set in the far future, where food has become scarce. Not for humans, but for vampires. That has resulted in a different sort of food rationing, and it's enough to make you stop and think.


Blood Saviors by Michele Tracy Berger
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
“She had only seen earth elementals once at the gathering of the Sovereign Societies ball when she was a child.”
Magic and elementals meet vampires in this totally unique story. It even stands out in the context of this collection, diving deeper into the world of fantasy and more. Still, it had a lot of positive notes and messages within, and I really did appreciate that.
Was this review helpful?
Some books you go into determined to love them, and SLAY: Stories of the Vampire Noire was one of those stories for me. Like, look at the summary. Look at the cover!

Since it’s an anthology, it’s inevitable that some of the stories were better than others. Some of them were actually much better than others, which is mostly a comment on how damn perfect some of the stories were rather than as a slight on the other stories.

Particular favourites of mine:
--‘Lover Hangover’ by Sheree Renée Thomas | A human becomes an uneasy, enchanted accomplice to a murderous siren of a vampire.
--‘The Retiree’ by Steven Van Patten | A retired Supernatural hunter goes into an old folks’ home.
--‘Diary of a Mad Black Vampire’ by Diey Grenor | Two women – one a vampire, one a psycohpath – become enamoured with each other.
--Shadow of Violence by Balogun Ojetade | In the dead of night, a beautiful woman with a motorbike and a ‘teenie-weenie afro’ hunts vampires.
--Desiccant by Craig Laurence Gidney | A trans woman is forced to move into a shithole full of supernatural bloodsuckers and will give up without a fight.

Some of the other stories great concept but were lacking in execution, cut off far too soon to work as a short story, or were solid stories but not as fantastic as the above. But it is definitely, definitely worth reading.
Was this review helpful?
This book has one of the best premises for a collection of short stories I’ve ever heard; it’s all about black people and vampires. I was so excited to pick this up because I’m desperate to read more vampire stories where white people aren’t the focus. Oh boy, does Slay deliver! As always with short stories, there are some I like more, some I like less, but overall this book was brilliant. With unique twists and turns of old tropes, it truly gives vampires a new life.

One thing I loved above all else about these stories was the unique takes on vampires. I’ve got to admit I was one of those emo teenagers who predominantly read vampire romance books, slowly progressing into reading vampire-everything books. I’m so glad to see vampires making a comeback, and I love the new ways they’re being depicted. It’s about time vampires aren’t just shown as white-as-a-sheet, creepy heartthrobs.

From sympathetic to soulless bloodsucking demons, from vampires that ooze sex appeal to vampires that are glad they can’t see their own reflection, this book has it all.

I also loved how this book is set out. It has three sections – United States and Britain, Africa, and The Future. That helped conceptualise where the story was taking place and how they all link together. The section of the United States and Britain was the longest, it featured lots of different time periods that focused on the African Diaspora. A lot of my favourite stories were in that section. I do wish Africa and The Future had been a bit longer, I was especially intrigued by the idea of futures with vampires and I’d love to see a full-length book written with some of those ideas brought forward.

The quality wasn’t completely consistent throughout the book. Some stories were wonderful, and I’m going to be keeping an eye on the authors of my favourites. While others felt a bit clunky with stilted dialogue and an assortment of spelling errors. I’m aware I received an advanced copy though, so perhaps after a final round of editing, this will have been sorted. I believe that criticism to be a common one with short-story anthologies, especially one with this many authors. There are going to be different skill levels, but my overall enjoyment of the book wasn’t hampered by the few stories I didn’t enjoy.

I sometimes found this read a little slow going, but I’m beginning to believe that’s very much a me problem. I don’t think I enjoy short story collections with a vast number of stories that much. I hadn’t realised that when I picked this up, so the fact that I still found this enjoyable demonstrates how interesting a collection the book has.

It’s difficult to talk about a short-story collection without speaking about each specific story, but I also don’t think that’d make for a particularly readable review (and you’d have no surprises when you read it!). So instead I’m going to talk about five stories, four of my favourites and one I didn’t like as much.

Desiccant by Craig Laurance Gidney – This was one of the most unique stories in the collection, and the perfect one to start. It follows a black trans woman as she’s been forced to move into a run-down apartment complex. No one cares about the strange red dust that seems to be sucking the life out of people, but she’s determined to never back down. I loved how there isn’t a traditional vampire in this story. The only downside is I wish there were more!

Snake Hill Blues by John Linwood Grant – Set in New York City in 1927 a dancing girl shows up dead. Mamma Lucy, the speakeasy’s ‘gen-u-ine conjure-woman’ quickly figures out the culprit is a blood-walker and goes on the hunt. Not only did I enjoy the historical setting, but Mamma Lucy was such a great character. The kind of magic she uses is often devalued in white society, and even the vampire himself won’t take her seriously until it’s too late. I love a good little murder mystery, and this hits the spot.

The Dance by L. Marie Wood – This story heavily focuses on the eroticism of vampires. A woman is in a club watching another woman dancing. She’s never thought about liking women before and struggles with her desire. I love a bit of sexy sapphic goodness, and the writing style ebbed and flowed with the dance so well.

Shadow of Violence by Balogun Ojetade – We’ve got a vampire hunter this time! Ojiji enters a vampire den underneath a funeral home. The vampires originally think she’s one of them, little do they know she’s the last of the Kokou, here to end their undead lives. Ojiji is such a motorbike riding badass; I want more of her.

Attack on University of Lagos, Law Faculty by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki – Okay so here’s the story I didn’t like as much. There’s an outbreak of zombie-like vampires at the University of Lagos, and our main character helps fight them off. I enjoyed the over-the-top, action-movie feeling to this story, but I absolutely hated the main character. I’m pretty sure it’s a humour that I’m not getting, but he’s consistently going on about how charming and attractive and capable he is, in a cockily unlikeable way. So much so I was sure he was going to be killed for being overconfident, but no, he’s just a good hero. It wasn’t a bad story or anything, but it frustrated me.

Overall, this was such an interesting short story collection and I’d definitely recommend you check it out! I absolutely loved the ideas put forward, and so many of these stories were just superb.

Recommend for: People who want to read a collection of vampire stories that centres black voices, people who want to read a book with a lot of short stories, people who want to read a book with queer vampire representation, people who want to read a book with a lot of different types of depiction of vampire.
(Thanks to NetGallery and Mocha Memoirs Press for providing an advance readers copy in exchange for an honest review)
Was this review helpful?
SLAY is a unique collection of 28 short stories celebrating vampires and slayers of the African Diaspora.

Each story in this anthology leaves it own unique mark on the reader.  It is very rare to get a consistent selection, but I can honestly say that there is no weak story within this anthology.  Although it could be commented that certain stories may not have worked in the short story format and could have been longer, I still loved reading them and did not rate any individual story below a 3 star.  I was hooked throughout, and each story left its impression on me.  I can’t wait to re-read these wonderful stories.

I will say that there are many different stories involving vampires and slayers, and some stories have a completely different take on the mythos that I have not seen before.  This makes for an interesting read as you are never sure where the stories are going to go. There are vampires in many different forms, from space vampires to monsters in vents, this collection has something for everyone who has an interest in vampire mythos.

There are, as always, a number of highlights for me;

•Encounters – a wonderful and intriguing first line leads to an emotional and stunning story that I loved throughout

•Snake Hill Blues – One of the more creepy stories in the collection with the ending, but Mama Lucy is just a wonderful character and I would love to read more of her story.  

•In Egypt’s shadow – Yet another emotional story that had an ending that left me with feeling happy and satisfied

•Rampage – action packed and intriguing, this has such a great twist at the end that I loved 

All in all, this is a brilliant and stunning collection that I would definitely recommend.

Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and unbiased review
Was this review helpful?
Storie of the vampire noire I give 4 stars
The book is divided in 3 sections: 1 United States and Britain 
2 Africa 
3 the future 
The a lot story  write from different authors very good write with a good plot. 
I like most the story in the future but as well in the United States the first 3 story. 
Thank netgallary for make me review this arc
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to NetGalley and Mocha Memoirs Press for providing me with this E-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This anthology celebrates vampires and slayers of the African Diaspora. Drawing from a variety of backgrounds, cultures, and myths, each short story has a unique tale to tell which allows the reader to dive into multiple worlds, each involving our favourite undead monsters.

The book is separated into three sections – United States and Britain, Africa, and The Future. This allows the reader an understanding of the settings and prepares them for some of the myth or cultural references which are made within the stories.

Unfortunately, the quality of the content is not consistent throughout the anthology and some stories are far more memorable than others. Tales such as The Retiree, Frostbite and Quadrille excel in creating unique takes on the vampire myth, introducing us to exciting characters and fast paced plot. Others, such as The Dance and Diary of a Mad Black Vampire embrace the concept of vampirism as eroticism a little too readily, which impacts the narrative a little too much – although the plot twist of the latter is definitely one which catches you off guard!

Thankfully, the enjoyable short stories do outweigh the less enjoyable and this anthology remains a positive celebration of the diversity of the African diaspora, be it through the authors, the characters or the mythology mentioned in the tales and this is definitely a short story collection to be reckoned with. 

Individual commentary on some of the stories :
- Desiccant : this short story includes a plethora of transphobic language which is unnecessary and has no connection to the plot. In addition to this, there is no real solution or explanation and, as a result, the short story seems unfinished, with no purpose other than to shock.

- The Retiree : this is a fun story which tugs at the heartstrings while offering comedic relief exactly when you need it. It is well written, concise and a unique take on the vampire.

- The Return of The OV : typo/inconsistency in first mention of Agatha's name is off-putting but the idea is enjoyable and the ending leaves the reader wanting more from this world.

- 'Til Death : really enjoyable story, let down by the ending

- Ujima : typos and error in tenses makes for jarring reading.

- Blood Saviors : perfect story to end on, one of my favourites.
Was this review helpful?
Sharing only a common thread of vampires and afrocentricism, SLAY is a diverse collection of paranormal tales, ranging from the sweetly charming to the grimly dystopian with stories both action-packed and emotionally-driven in the past, the present, and the future. Loaded with twenty-nine stories, there is a broad enough selection that folks of all tastes are guaranteed to find shorts that they love. In particular, I was take by the manifold interpretations of "vampire". Alongside new twists on traditional lore, there are narratives that conceptualize these predators in entirely novel ways. 

My personal favorites were L. Marie Wood's "The Dance" (breathtaking in its sensuality), Penelope Flynn's "Unfleamed" (that literally made me squeal at the end), Kai Leake's "Di Conjuring Nectar of di Blood" (containing an astonishing breadth of scope seldom found in short form), and Steve Van Samson's "No God But Hunger" (grim and exciting and everything I love in speculative fiction). In addition to these, there were many others that also thrilled, and, while there were some included authors who need more time to grow and develop, there are none within that lack skill or potential. 


INDIVIDUAL STORY RATINGS AND COMMENTS

"Desiccant" Craig Laurance Gidney
3 stars
This fascinating spin on vampires replete with incredible description was well on the way to a 5-star rating. Unfortunately, it stopped rather than actually ending. There was no closure, and it read like a prelude or first chapter.

"Love Hangover" Sheree René Thomas
4 stars
Seeking only love and solidarity, Frankie instead finds obsession and nightmares.

"The Retiree" Steven Van Patten
4 stars
A retired father is packed off to a nursing home but still has some unfinished business to resolve. A touching paranormal tale with multiple surprises.

"The Dance" L. Marie Wood
5 stars
The most viscerally sensual thing I have ever read.

"A Clink of Crystal Glasses Heard" LH Moore
3 stars
Coming-of age is a mixed blessing for women, but some have a bit more to deal with that others.

"Diary of a Mad Black Vampire" Dicey Grenor
4 stars
A wonderfully tricksome tale that left me grinning in pure delight.

"The Return of the OV" Jeff Carroll
2 stars
While wonderful conceptually, the dialogue was stiff, and the ending fell flat.

"The Last Vampire Huntress" Alicia McCalla
4 stars
An exciting tale about difficult choices and toxic love

"Gritty Corners" Jessica Cage
3 stars
Exciting and action-paced but I disliked the ending and unexplained bonding issue.

"Shadow of Violence" Balogun Ojetade
2 stars
Nicely written action but the dialogue felt very Hollywood action film, which some folks love but not me.

"'Til Death" Lynette S. Hoag
2 stars
The plot and character choices lacked credibility to realism which simply left me unable to suspend disbelief enough to sink into the story

"Encounters" K. R. S. McEntire
3.5 stars
A little too sweet for my personal taste, but definitely a unique take on vampires with well-sculpted characters.

"Unfleamed" Penelope Flynn
5 stars
THAT ENDING THOUGH!!! I loved this! So rooted in lore yet also very new. I long to read more set in this universe.

"Beautiful Monsters" Valjeanne Jeffers
4 stars
An exciting adventure in an intriguing world.

"Frostbite" Delizhia D. Jenkins
3 stars
I like the concept of the story, and the writing style is compelling. However, there was a jarring credibility issue with the one sister knowing yet not realizing the other sister did not especially given that the relationship is portrayed as close.

"Di Conjuring Nectar of di Blood" Kai Leakes
5 stars
An enticing and thrilling universe. It very much drew to mind both Anne Rice's "Queen of the Damned" and Octavia Butler's "Wild Seed". The historical depth of all three greatly intrigued me. I'd love to see an expanded version that digs deep into the full history of the vampire culture in here.

"Snake Hill Blues" John Linwood Grant
4 stars
Brilliant. An incredible sense of building anticipation as well as a deft handing for a turn of phrase that paints a picture of complex emotional depth, from which one feels a gestalt of understanding and recognition.

"Ujima" Alledria Hurt
4 stars
A thrilling chase story about the bonds of family.

"Attack on the University of Lagos, Law Faculty" Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki
3 stars
The action was well-written and the main character amusing; however, it felt more like a scene than a story and was a bit heavy handed at points.

"His Destroyer" Samantha Bryant
4 stars
A grimly gorgeous short merging Judeo-Christian myth with vampire lore. Absolutely riveting.

"Quadrille" Colin Cloud Dance
3 stars
Ack. So this was going magnificently, cleverly designed and well-written, when it just stopped. No wrap up. No real ending. Just no more story.

"Asi's Horror and Delight" Sumiko Saulson
2 stars
Great concept but displeasing execution. If felt as if it was trying hard to be sexy but it came across as tiresome rather than sensual.

"In Egypt's Shadows" Vonnie Winslow Crist
3 stars
A sweet and lovely story. Well done overall but sweet isn't really my thing.

"Rampage" Miranda J. Riley
2.5 stars
A touch too obvious in its didacticism but with exciting action scenes. There are inconsistencies as well. The core of the story is excellent but the execution needs to develop and grow.

"No God But Hunger" Steve Van Samson
5 stars
A post-apocalyptic survival tale where vampires may be the apex, but everything is a predator. Exciting and compelling.

"Bloodline" Milton J. Davis
4 stars
Yet another delightful twist on the classic vampire in a dystopian fantasy adventure. The story is complete in and of itself, yet I would not mind to revisit this world.

"Message in a Vessel" V. G. Harrison
4 stars
A dystopian tale of oppression and the future.

"Blood Saviors" Michele Tracy Berger
3 stars
An intriguing and exciting read, but it reads like a chapter or preface and doesn't provide closure.

I received a complimentary copy of this book via NetGalley. Many thanks to all involved in providing me with this opportunity.
Was this review helpful?
What Mocha Memoirs Press achieves with 'Slay: Stories of the Vampire Noire" is something quite impressive: a fresh look at the vampire mythos that not only expands how we see vampires, but also how we see ourselves. 

The stories in "Slay" deliver everything you want in a vampire story: blood, sex, terror. But also get windows into worlds and experiences not normally centered in horror fiction. It's a meal we didn't know we were hungry for. 

What I liked most about "Slay" was the scope and breadth of these voices, and the confident ways these authors staked their claim to the vampire story. I discovered a lot of new writers here that I'll definitely be following. Any lover of the vampire legend should pick up this book. It absolutely slays.
Was this review helpful?
Dracula has been around for centuries. There is no mention of Black vampires then but that has been rectified by volumes like this. The book is full of stories, rich and lush. Varied scenarios that have the reader pulled in and under the thrall of the vampires. You will seek out each of the author's stories and wish they would never end. I hope we get more anthologies like this one. Simply sublime.
Was this review helpful?