THE BLOOD IS THE LIFE by David Carrico, Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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THE BLOOD IS THE LIFE by David Carrico, Review

Alexander Wallace tackles an ethical dilemma.
One of the things that is so conspicuous to gentiles about Judaism is the ritual, like the refusal to eat pork and shellfish, or the lighting of the Menorah every Hanukkah, or the kippah worn on the head by some believers. This ritual has the effect of binding the community together, to preserve ‘Jewishness’ as a quality and as a reality of its people. It then becomes logical for a writer in the speculative genres (as we tend to operate as per our own particular logic) to ask: what if an observant Jew simply could not follow the laws of his people?

That is the basic premise of The Blood is the Life by David Carrico, released in September 2022 from Baen Books. Your protagonist, Chaim Caan, is a young man who meets an interesting young woman at a nightclub and later finds out that she has bit him, and that he has become a vampire. But, being an observant Jew, he realizes something horrible: he is in violation of a law given out in the Book of Leviticus (or Vayikra, in Hebrew):
“And you shall not eat any blood in any of your dwelling places, whether from birds or from animals.”

Leviticus 7:26, as translated by A. J. Rosenberg and displayed on

Given what vampires need for sustenance, this rapidly becomes … inconvenient.

One of the things that surprised me, a gentile, was that David Carrico is not Jewish. I learned that in this interview he did on the blog that is run, for full disclosure, by a friend of mine. To his credit, he displays a knowledge of the religion and its culture that certainly feels authentic, to the point that he knows the difference between Orthodox Judaism and Reform Judaism, and uses this to plot-significant effect.

What ensues is a roller-coaster of a story, something of a bildungsroman for Chaim Caan as he navigates both his faith and the duties that he finds himself thrust into by those in a similar situation. Carrico remembers that this story is Chaim’s story and never forgets to put the focus on his psychological development, even as he goes from California to New York to Israel and back (and I really like the bits set in Israel).

Much of The Blood is the Life is about the burden of service; Chaim has to do arduous things, sometimes unpleasant things, to defend his people against its enemies (and, even in the twenty-first century, they have many enemies). Running throughout is an implicit comparison to the nature of the Jews as a ‘chosen people,’ a doctrine which imposes obligations, rather than privileges, on the Jewish people. The choice of this particular plot gives the book a depth that would have been lost in something less sophisticated, less learned.

The Blood is the Life is a peculiar book, but one I came to enjoy. It is clearly a labor of love and of great effort, one immersed in a particular culture and a particular struggle, even if they are not those of the author. I don’t know how Jewish readers will interpret it (he says he asked Jewish friends to look at it), but I enjoyed it very much.

Alexander Wallace is an alternate historian, reader, and writer who moderates the Alternate History Online group on Facebook and the Alternate Timelines Forum on Proboards. He writes regularly for the Sea Lion Press blog and for NeverWas magazine, and also appears regularly on the Alternate History Show with Ben Kearns. He is a member of several alternate history fora under the name 'SpanishSpy.'

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