So, if you follow on me on Instagram, you saw that I posted a “guess the book quote” this week with the reveal being Christopher Pike’s “The Last Vampire”.
This was the first vampire book I read as a teen. I can still recall the memory of pulling it from the shelf in my high school library one morning before class. I have read a lot of Pike’s books since then. Other than his “Remember me” trilogy, nothing touched me, nor stayed with me as much as his retelling of a famous Hindu love story of Rama and Sita.
Why did the story touched me so, you might ask? Was it my first introduction into a strong, immovable heroine that now graces many pages of the fantasy genre? Was the well-placed action and Pike’s unwavering ability to show the darker side of his heroes? Was it the rich Hindu mythology that shaped the story? It could be all or none of these.
It could have even been my twelve-year-old hormones falling in love with a character for the first time. All I know is to this day, no one (except Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake) has moved me like Sita. So much so, I have a dedication to her tattooed on my ribs in Sanskrit.
Crazy, you say?
Perhaps…but as I said, I was twelve and infatuated with a fictional character, sue me.
Besides, it set me on my path as an author, so without Sita, without Pike and his retelling of Hindu myth, my own story might not be unfolding as it was. So, for all parties involved, fictional and not, I’m grateful.
Warning *** spoilers ahead ***
If you haven’t already read the book, be warned…major plot points below!
The opening scene of The Last Vampire introduces our heroine straight off. Given this is YA and a few decades old now, exposition told through the thoughts of the character is how we come to find that our heroine is indeed a five-thousand-year-old vampire, by the name of Sita and as the title suggests, she is the last of her kind.
…or so she thinks.
The opening scene leads Sita to a would-be private-eye, who, after uncovering her vast wealth decides blackmail is a more lucrative outcome than reporting his findings to his employer. Little does he understand that a cornered vampire is ten times deadlier than an enraged cobra and well, suffice to say, his departure from the story is swift and merciless.
Her life in the spotlight, Sita is determined to uncover the now dead private-eye’s mysterious employer. Having no luck with his encrypted files, Sita decides to use old-school tricks and thousands of years of feminine wiles to get the information required. This leads to her attendance of the private-eye son’s school where she plans to seduce the information out of him to obtain the password for the files.
With me so far? Pretty stock standard plan, right? I mean, if you looked no more than nineteen but had thousands of years of knowledge at your disposable, why wouldn’t you take the quickest and simpler route to your goal.
Sex sells, people!
Only what would life be without a few cosmic interventions?
Arriving at school, Sita meets her new target, “Ray.” Despite him having a girlfriend and befriending a sick student who has an extremely high extrasensory perception of her, her task should be easy. I mean, hot vampire, teen boy, no contest, right?
Well, it would have if not for the fact that meeting Ray, Sita finds herself believing he is the reincarnated soul of her lost husband Rama!
Oh, the tension.
The reader is then treated to a little backstory, told through dreams and a rather rude abduction attempt from some operatives also contracted by the the same mysterious employer as the opening scene. We learn that a plague struck down Sita's small village when she was a child. Dark priests tried their hardest (not that hard) to rid the plague by calling demons to Earth, and from this, the first vampire, Yaksha, is born (can’t give too much away now!) Long story short, Yaksha falls in love with her and one day returns to the vilage to steal her away from her husband who she never sees again!
Oh, the tragedy.
Years pass, blah, blah, blah. The latest avatar on the world is Krishna who bests Yaksha in combat (musical combat no less) and tells the vampire lord to destroy all he has created as penance.
All those created, I hear you thinking…yes, he means his horde of vampires.
…But Sita—oh, no!
Sita and the others flee and she somehow slips through the crack of his hunting raid throughout history, until she bears the title of the last vampire...which brings us back to present day.
Some ride, right?
Can you guess who’s after he now?
Yup, that’s right. Yaksha. Sita was never truly the last vampire, he simply couldn’t bring himself to end her. Yet, now he is tired (cue violin music) and wants to die, so he must fulfill his promise to Krishna.
The problem: after five thousand years, Sita (who totally isn't ready to go yet) has finally found Rama.
The irony: after five thousand years, her life has come full circle. Once again, Yaksha is forcing her to give up her one true love.
The question: can this cobra find a way to our smart the ultimate serpent?
I’ve given some pretty big plot points away here, but the answer to that question, well, that I won’t ruin for you. You’ll have to find out for yourself.
As I mentioned above, this book was the pivotal, nay, cataclysmic event that imploded my young mind and changed my world. I have never been the same again, nor have I wanted to. There is so much I could say on this book, but also, I don’t think my words could ever truly do it justice. While my taste has grown over the years, and my reading pursuits vary, I will always be, team Sita.
So, when people ask what inspired me to write, now you know. Sita was, and always will be, the one and ONLY vampire for me.
And that's it from me.
Until next time, folks.