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A Vampire Who Can Cure Cancer - an Editorial Review of "Falling Stars"

Book Blurb:

Everyone says vampires aren't real. Tommy Lucas isn't so sure.Nine-year-old Tommy Lucas needs a bone marrow transplant to survive. But he’s convinced his disease is a curse on his bloodline, that he’s a vampire. His mother’s an oncologist but Tommy’s convinced only magic can cure him—or the same synthetic blood substitute developed for urban legend Viscount Claudius Fallon.

Tommy's stoked when he discovers a five-part series about Fallon in an online pulp fiction magazine called Philly’s Argosy. Descended from a ruling class of vampires in Cardiff, legend has it that Fallon traveled to Eureka Springs, Arkansas seeking a cure for his own leukemia during WWII.

Tommy’s quest leads him to befriend local artist and gallery owner Callan Masters, who struggles with his growing affection for Tommy’s mom, June—for he is Fallon, cured in 1939 at Norman G. Baker’s Cure-for-Cancer Hospital.

Dedicated to living off-grid and as a human, Callan must decide whether he will take the risk involved in helping Tommy or falling in love with June. His bite is no longer capable of turning anyone—or so he thinks.

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Author Bio:

Julie Rogers’s award-winning articles and stories have been featured in trade, self-help, inspirational, and fiction publications including Writer's Digest, Coping With Cancer, Daily Meditation, Mocha Memoirs, Anotherealm, Horsethief’s Journal, Images Inscript, Complete Woman, and the annual anthology Writes of Passage: Every Woman has a Story!

She is the author of the the urban fantasy Falling Stars, the self-help books Happy Tails: How Pets Can Help You Survive Divorce and Simeon: A Greater Reality, the ghost story collection Seven Shorts, the inspirational upper-elementary reader, Hootie, the romantic comedy When Pigs Fly Over The Moon, and co-author of the existential teen guide Letters: Sidereal Insight for a 21st Century Mystic.

Julie currently ghostwrites creative fiction for clients through Julie Rogers's Books, Edioak, and The Authors' Assistant.

Julie is the 1999 Writer’s Digest Writing Competition Grand Prize Winner for her short story “House Call.”

Julie is the 2023 Firebird Book Awards First Place Winner in Urban Fantasy for Falling Stars. Other awards for Falling Stars include:

2023 Pinnacle Book Awards Best Book in Fantasy

2023 Global Book Awards Bronze in Fantasy

2023 Global Book Awards Finalist in Vampire Books

2023 Hollywood Book Festival First Runner-Up

2023 American Fiction Awards Finalist in Fantasy

Other awards include:

 1997 Golden Triangle Writer’s Guild Screenplay First – Driver

 1998 Writer’s Digest Stage Play First – Garage Sale

 1998 Writer’s Digest Short Story Honorable Mention – “Estate Sale”

 1999 Writer’s Network Stage Play Honorable Mention – Garage Sale

 2000 Writer’s Network Screenplay Honorable Mention – Killing Grounds

 2005 Fade In magazine’s Screenplay Semi-Finalist – Grave Jumper

Editorial Review:

Both of us had waltzed around this one long enough already, hadn't we? And though I never liked to go into any interview with too many preconceptions, I had to ask. “Subject matter?” McWatters was headlong into a line of scrawled notes at the bottom of a legal tablet directly in front of him. When I glanced up from the water tower, it looked like clickety-clack-clickety he had no head. Sometimes the presence of simply wrong alongside our everyday normal can be the most unnerving. I mentally swore at my eyes for playing tricks on me. “Vampires,” he replied.

In the curious narrative of Rogers's novel, , a young boy named Tommy becomes the fulcrum upon which the supernatural and the mundane collide, birthing a heartfelt urban fantasy tinged with familial warmth. Tommy, a third-grader grappling with a rare blood cancer, holds an unwavering belief in his vampiric ancestry, nurtured by the indulgent embrace of his mother, June. Theirs is a tale that traverses the present-day landscape, replete with fan conventions and the ubiquitous influence of social media, while also voyaging into the unexpected recesses of World's Fairs and unforeseen diversions.

Central to this narrative tapestry are Tommy and June, intertwined with the tale of Viscount Claudius Fallon, a young vampire hailing from Wales. Claudius's story, published under the guise of fiction as "Bad Blood," becomes a focal point—a mesmerizing journey that entwines with Tommy's fixation, weaving a vivid portrayal of life in June's vibrant hometown of Eureka Springs, Ark.

This wouldn't be the first time she'd had to store his tablet away – but June knew how resourceful Tommy could be. He'd discover a way around it, she knew. Her son was hooked on “Bad Blood” and what she really needed to do was find a way to convince him it was just a story.

Yet, Rogers's narrative is not one of swift momentum; it meanders through unexpected perspectives, diving into the inner musings of incidental characters, and lavishing pages on descriptions such as Tommy's coffin, meticulously modified to suit his fanciful notions. The story may move at a languid pace, yet it exudes a raw originality. Tommy's equal fixation on the serialized "Bad Blood" narrative, chronicling Claudius's settling into June's hometown, forms a mesmerizing backdrop.

Upon their return, June finds herself entangled in a profound connection with the enigmatic real-life vampire who inspired Claudius's character. This liaison unfolds against the backdrop of Tommy's relentless pursuit of truth, culminating in a deathbed demand to embrace the vampiric transformation.

Herein lies a rich vein worth excavating—an exploration that grapples earnestly with themes of love, mortality, and our shared human experience. Rogers's prose, though densely woven, leads readers through a circuitous narrative. Patience is the requisite virtue for those willing to embark on this singular exploration, where grim reality converges with the ethereal realm.

The novel's strength lies in its contemplative nature, delving deeply into the recesses of human emotion and the interplay between the tangible and the supernatural. Rogers, with meticulous attention to detail, sacrifices the swift current of storytelling for a tapestry rich in texture and emotional resonance. In the minutiae of Tommy's obsession and June's complex entanglement with the vampire, Rogers paints a canvas that pulsates with the beating heart of humanity.

Perhaps we all are myopic to some degree, shackled by the very same time and space that compels us to run toward the next thing. And somewhere in that endeavor could be the truth we're longing for.

Through dense language and meandering paths, the narrative unfolds, inviting readers into a world where the veil between reality and fantasy is gossamer-thin. It's a narrative that challenges perceptions, blurring the boundaries between what's tangible and what's merely a figment of the imagination.

For those seeking an unconventional voyage, Rogers's work stands as a testament—a testament to the power of belief, the intricacies of love, and the enigmatic dance between life and death. Though not a swift read and quite unusual, which to some might be a fatal flaw, it does reward those who are patient, offering a profound and atypical exploration that lingers in the mind long after the last page is turned. In short, this is a fascinating tale perfect for a young adult wanting to delve into the world of historical fiction.


“Falling Stars” by Julie Rogers receives 4.5 stars from The Historical Fiction Company


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