Parasite Life, by Vitoria Dalpe, is a dark, gothic novel about the destruction love can bring.
The book is separated into four parts. The first part, Ars Moriendi, introduces a girl named Jane, who has to care for her sickly mother. She meets a girl named Sabrina, and while she begins to slowly build up a shadow of happiness, she discovers that she is something not wholly human. In Imago, both Jane and Sabrina must find her father in order to determine how she could coexist with normal society. In Momento Mori, Jane realizes just how deep a mother’s love can really be, as well as what it means to finally let go. Finally, in the Epilogue, Jane finally understands who she is, and accepts herself, despite the death that will come with it.
More often than not, I was perplexed by Jane’s mother. She was ruined by Hugh, was considered little more than a plaything to him, and yet, through it all she still decided to have his child. She knew Jane was a half-vampire, and although killing the child would be a kinder fate, in the end, she still chose to care for her. The things she did for Jane was confounding, as if saying she was indifferent to her daughter was just empty words. Sabrina, on the other hand, was a bit purer than that, almost naive. She was childlike in a sense, in that when she discovered what Jane was, she wasn’t harsher with Jane. She kept Jane human. She prevented her from drifting off into what was essentially damning her. Finally, there’s Jane herself, who, at first, appeared to be an endearing wallflower. But the more I found out about her, the more I realized that this story could very well be her fall from grace. I enjoyed reading about her struggle to retain her humanity, as well as her shifting paradigm of the world around her.
This story presented a clear divide between two different sides in the world. One side, the vampiric side, which represented power, corruption, and death. On the other side was humanity, which symbolized love, kindness, and life. When the two sides conflict with each other, there’s aways a horrific amount of blood, lust, and death involved. It’s why Sabrina and Jane’s relationship is a bit of an oddity. Because despite everything, they still somehow manage to come together to make it work out of true, genuine love. However, even that was susceptible, considering when Jane told Sabrina to leave, she did. It was brief, and in the midst of forever, a tiny fraction of a second, but even so, their relationship was beautiful nonetheless.
I loved this story. I loved the dark themes, the conflicted characters, as well as the intoxicating relationships that stem from two creatures. From a mother’s love, to the manipulation of lust and affection, Dalpe wields that darkness like a brush, as she dyes the otherwise tragic beauty of romance into black. I would rate this book a 5.0 out of 5.0 stars, and would recommend it to fantasy and paranormal romance lovers in general.