First published in 1999, This Is My Blood is David Niall Wilson’s first and most important novel. It is a retelling of the gospel from a very different perspective. When Jesus goes into the desert and is tempted by the devil, there is one temptation added. One of the fallen is raised as a woman to tempt him with the flesh. Instead, the woman, named Mary, falls in love with Jesus and his promise of returning her to Heaven. Cursed to follow him and drink the blood of his followers, Mary walks a fine line between her desire to love and support the Christ and her burning need to return to Heaven.
This novel takes the world of faith, which was the world of men,and of the apostles, and shows it through the eyes of a fallen angel – one who has, in her own words, walked the roads of both Heaven and Hell. She doesn’t believe there is a God… she knows. Faithful to the storyline of the original gospels, only weaving in new things when there are gaps in the old, this is a novel of faith, redemption, and ultimate sacrifice.
Many years ago, Howard Jacobson wrote a brave retelling of Genesis called "The Very Model of a Man". This book is in the same spirit, if leaning a little more towards the paranormal. This is unique and compelling reinterpretation of the story of Christ takes place through the eyes of Mary Magdalen, who is decidedly not what she seems.
It helps if you're fairly well versed in the New Testament - especially the Gospels - because it's only then you truly appreciate how clever the author has been with his retelling. But you certainly don't need to be a biblical scholar or religious to appreciate this lateral take on the story.
Although a little short for my taste in audiobooks, it is the right length for the story and the narration is excellent.
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Would you consider the audio edition of This Is My Blood to be better than the print version?
Actually, I just might. I tried reading alternately from my Kindle copy of the novel at certain points when I wasn't around my laptop to listen to the audiobook. The writing is heavily evocative and is only amplified more by the performance of Pip Ballantine. With the epic vibe of the story, listening to it as opposed to reading it gave me that nostalgic feeling of watching those classic Biblical films of the mid-twentieth century.
What other book might you compare This Is My Blood to and why?
The subject matter is quite different, but I was reminded a bit of Anne Rice's "Servant of the Bones." Blending vampyric tropes with deities seems to suit both authors.
What does Philippa Ballantine bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Philippa Ballantine proved herself a consummate narrator, tapping into the tone of the material and drawing out as much tension and empathy when needed for each scene.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
No one in particular. I don't normally go for ancient history as a backdrop in my fiction, so it was a wonder I was so engaged with the story--again all credit going to David's writing and Philippa's narration. For me, I was won over with the idea of Mary Magdalene as a vampire created by Lucifer and destined to be Jesus Christ's ruination. That's pure gold.
Any additional comments?
The story doesn't bog itself down with weighty amounts of exposition. The story moves very fluidly even during the quieter moments. And any Christians with concerns of a horror novel involving the Lord and Savior, need not be, as David Niall Wilson does an admirably job in telling his story without playing fast and loose with biblical scripture. Well, save for a couple minor things, but that's still nothing to quibble over.
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