Tara. I'm a vampire," Pearl said."Yeah, whatever, and I'm queen of the sea.""Your Marine Majesty, I'm a vampire," Pearl said.Concentrating, she slid her fangs out. "Tara. Tara!" She curled back her lips to expose the points. "See"Tara screamed."I won't hurt you," Pearl said. Calm down. Sheesh."Tara continued to scream.Pearl considered biting her merely to shut her up. Regrettably that would be counter productive. Studying her nails, she waited for Tara to quit screaming. She noticed that Tara didn't try to exit the car, which was an interesting choice."You aren't running away," Pearl said."Duh, it's raining outside," Tara said.
It was Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the television series, 1997-2003, not the lackluster movie that preceded it) that blazed the trail for Twilight and the slew of other paranormal romance novels that followed, while also shaping the broader urban fantasy field from the late 1990s onward. Many of you reading this book will be too young to remember when Buffy debuted, so you'll have to trust us when we say that nothing quite like it had existed before. It was thrillingly new to see a young, gutsy, kick-ass female hero, for starters, and one who was no Amazonian Wonder Woman but recognizably ordinary, fussing about her nails, her shoes, and whether she'd make it to her high school prom. Buffy's story contained a heady mix of many genres (fantasy, horror, science-fiction, romance, detective fiction, high school drama), all of it leavened with tongue-in-cheek humor yet underpinned by the serious care with which the Buffy universe had been crafted. Back then, Whedon's dizzying genre hopping was a radical departure from the norm-whereas today, post-Buffy, no one blinks an eye as writers of urban fantasy leap across genre boundaries with abandon, penning tender romances featuring werewolves and demons, hard-boiled detective novels with fairies, and vampires-in-modern-life sagas that can crop up darn near anywhere: on the horror shelves, the SF shelves, the mystery shelves, the romance shelves.
The basic principle of structural analysis, I was explaining, is that the terms of a symbolic system do not stand in isolation—they are not to be thought of in terms of what they 'stand for,' but are defined by their relations to each other. One has to first define the field, and then look for elements in that field that are systematic inversions of each other. Take vampires. First you place them: vampires are stock figures in American horror movies. American horror movies constitute a kind of cosmology, a universe unto themselves. Then you ask: what, within this cosmos, is the opposite of a vampire? The answer is obvious. The opposite of a vampire is a werewolf. On one level they are the same: they are both monsters that can bite you and, biting you, turn you, too, into one of their own kind. In most other ways each is an exact inversion of the other. Vampires are rich. They are typically aristocrats. Werewolves are always poor. Vampires are fixed in space: they have castles or crypts that they have to retreat to during the daytime; werewolves are usually homeless derelicts, travelers, or otherwise on the run. Vampires control other creatures (bats, wolves, humans that they hypnotize or render thralls). Werewolves can't control themselves. Yet—and this is really the clincher in this case—each can be destroyed only by its own negation: vampires, by a stake, a simple sharpened stick that peasants use to construct fences; werewolves, by a silver bullet, something literally made from money.
In the center of the room Sarra the demon hung upside down by one leg, its arms bound behind its back, its suit scuffed-looking. Beneath it, crawling around an intricately scribed circle, a woman with short, curly red hair drew binding symbols with a gold stick.She looked up as I fanned away the smoke that was billowing up from the crack in the tile. "You're a Summoner. Hullo. I'm Noelle. Did you know that you have mismatched eyes?"I walked around the demon. It glared at me. "Yes, I know. Why do you have Sarra strung up by one leg?"She drew another symbol. It flared bright green as soon as the stick lifted from the circle. "It was getting a bit stroppy with me. The Hanged Man always teaches them a few manners. It's retaliating with the smoke. Are those spirits I saw yours, then?""Yes, they are. There are four others as well. I hate to be a bother, but I'm in a bit of a hurry, what with Christian being held by this one's master and all, so if you could possibly just give me the abbreviated version of what's going on here, I'll be on my way to rescue him."She leaned back on her heels and sucked the tip of her gold stick. "Asmodeus, eh?"The demon snarled. A chunk of ceiling fell behind me. We both ignored it. It just never does to give a demon the satisfaction of knowing it's startled you."It's a nasty bag of tricks, but I heard through the demonic grapevine that it was weakened and searching for a suitable sacrifice to regain its power," she added."Well, it can't have Christian; he's mine. Back to the demon, if you don't mind…"She looked up at Sarra, still sucking the stick. "It's a pretty specimen, isn't it? I like the hair gel. Nice touch. The mustache is a bit much, though, don't you think? Makes it look so smarmy.""Um…""I'm destroying it, so I suppose it really doesn't matter."I blinked and avoided two wine bottles as they flew out of a rack when the demon hissed at the Guardian.
I ground my teeth. "Just when I thought I was getting a handle on this whole Dark One/demon lord/imp thing, you go and throw knockers into the mix. I'm going to have to request that you stop, Adrian. I'm about at my limit of how many impossible things I can believe before breakfast."He flashed a heart-stoppingly roguish grin at me, his dimples just about bringing me to my knees. "Your middle name wouldn't be Alice, would it?" he asked."No, it's Diane, and you're no White Rabbit, so let's just stop pretending we're in Wonderland, OK?"He laughed and pointed across the tiny square at our destination. I watched him for a moment, seeing a glimpse of the charming, charismatic man he must have been before the demon lord cursed him and leeched away all the softer emotions.