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Book Review: Blood and Biscuits

Book Review: Blood and Biscuits Cover Image

S. A. Smith

November 4, 2022

I bought Blood and Biscuits two years ago. At the time, I needed a light, fluffy, quick read, and this book about a centuries-old, depressed vampire who starts a monster support group, with the first members being a banshee with deep-set anxieties and a chip on her shoulder, a vegan zombie (what’s the poor guy to eat?), and a werewolf with a dog allergy, would fit the bill. Ten pages in, I realized how wrong I was. Blood and Biscuits is a book to be read slowly so as to savor its phrasings and ideas, underlined, highlighted, annotated, and--reading gods, forgive me—dog-eared.

In short, the book is a lingering exploration of what makes all of us—and the monsters inside us—human. Most of the story occurs in the crumbling, abandoned ruins of St. Ellin’s Church on Ellin’s Industrial Island in Northern England. Here, in the basement is where the vampire Vlad holds his meetings. Starting with only three members, including Vlad, the group gains a fourth member when a werewolf, recently returned to human form, crashes the meeting to escape the gang of hoodlums out to kill him. Soon the shy ghost, Sarah, shows up, and as members settle in, they invite friends, including a faery exiled from her homeland for misusing her magic and a young weather witch. The group gradually  grows from a collection of defensive and somewhat reluctant members to a cohesive group that cares for and nurtures one another.

As in real life, the most seemingly inconsequential personalities in Blood and Biscuits turn out to be some of the most important. Take Sarah, for instance. This insubstantial and seemingly insignificant ghost was a writer in life with no one to hear her words in death. She’s the ghost “that felt too much and remembered nothing.” Compared to the others, she seems almost like a nonentity, but it would be a huge mistake to relegate Sarah to the dusty corners of the crumbling church.  

I’ve mentioned the book's phrasings, many of which are sheer poetry. For example, here’s a scene where Vlad returns to the church alone, waiting only to speak to the elusive Sarah. “Silver flashed again and Vlad pursued immediately, shadow chasing light from arch to arch, through vines and stone. In the flurry of light, Vlad saw her veiled face. They rose and twirled in a dance of the macabre, two affections of death swirling through frigid night air, spiraling the crooked spire until, at last, circling the pinnacle, pitch-black and silver facing one another beneath the gaze of that gaunt, lonely moon.” If that’s not poetry, I don’t know what is.

To end, the theme of Blood and Biscuits is that monsters are people, too, and they have feelings and hopes and dreams like the rest of us. It’s a powerful testament to the power of friendship and love and forgiveness and the importance of opening ourselves up to those who are different from us and allowing them to open themselves up to us.

Blood and Biscuits is the first book in the Supernatural Support Group series. Book Two, Martinis at Midnight is already out, and a third book is being written.

Oh, as an explanation to non-British readers who might be thinking of blood and biscuits in terms of gravy and biscuits, fear not! If you don’t know, “biscuits” is Brit-speak for “cookies,” and the only liquid consumed at the support group meetings is tea.