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Sonja Blue #1

Sunglasses After Dark

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A half-human, half-vampire hunts the bloodsucker who bit her in this “compelling” Bram Stoker Award-winning debut (Publishers Weekly).
One spring night in London, heiress Denise Thorne disappears while partying at a nightclub, never to be seen again. That very same night, Sonja Blue, a tough-as-nails punk vampire/vampire-slayer, conceived in terror and blood, is borne from the city’s gutters. Saved by modern medicine before she could die, she is a living vampire who still possesses a soul and is determined to fight for what remains of her humanity. In the years since her bizarre resurrection, Sonja Blue travels the globe, hunting down and disposing of those creatures that prey on the innocent while searching for the vampire Noble who created her. But when she investigates a sleazy televangelist named Catherine Wheele, who is exploiting Denise Thorne’s parents, Sonja finds herself up against a powerful inhuman adversary. But as dangerous as Catherine Wheele proves to be, Sonja’s greatest foe remains the Other, the demonic personality with whom she is locked in a constant battle for control of their shared body. Can Sonja Blue overcome her inner demon in time to rescue an innocent man from Catherine Wheele’s unholy clutches? 
Acknowledged as one of the first Urban Fantasy novels, Sunglasses After Dark burst onto the fantasy/horror scene in 1989, garnering widespread critical praise and winning the Horror Writers Association’s coveted Bram Stoker Award, as well as the British Fantasy Society’s Icarus Award.

250 pages, Kindle Edition

First published August 1, 1989

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About the author

Nancy A. Collins

274 books622 followers
Nancy A. Collins (born 10 September 1959) is a United States horror fiction writer best known for her series of vampire novels featuring her character Sonja Blue. Collins has also written for comic books, including the Swamp Thing series, Jason Vs. Leatherface, Predator: Hell Come A Walkin and her own one-shot Dhampire: Stillborn.

Collins was born in McGehee, Arkansas, United States. She lived in New Orleans, Louisiana in the 1980s; after time in New York City and Atlanta, Georgia she settled in Wilmington, North Carolina in the late 2000s.

Collins has written twenty novels since 1989, many of which refer to and directly include races of creatures the author calls Pretenders, monsters from myth and legend passing as human to better hunt their prey.

Collins has also written a number of highly acclaimed Southern Gothic short stories and novellas, most of which are set in Seven Devils, Arkansas, a highly fictionalized version of her hometown.

Most recently, she has focused her attention onto the Golgotham urban fantasy series,published by Penguin. Golgotham is the 'supernatural' ghetto of New York City, where creatures from myth and folklore--including witches,shapeshifters,leprechauns and centaurs--live and work in uneasy alliance with mankind.

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631 (22%)
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104 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 161 reviews
Profile Image for Graeme Rodaughan.
Author 9 books339 followers
December 11, 2021
Do we really need another book where a woman is 'raped,' into her power?

3 Stars. Downgrading this to 2 stars. On reflection the production values were insulting to this reader, and the exposition was terrible.

The positives (when they were present). A high level of inventiveness, and excellent visuals for scenes, characters and action.

There are some very important negatives.

The narrative flow is broken by some dreadful backstory exposition full of lazy stereotypes that any competent story editor would have cut and thrown into the bin.

The actual manuscript used for the Amazon Kindle version currently on sale (what I bought) is at best a rough first draft, lacking editing for grammar and semantic meaning. I.e. some sentences do not make any sense as written and have to be re-written by the reader on the fly.

A distinct lack of professional work which I'm surprised to see from a notable multi-book author. I mean, does she not care about her work enough to check that it's in good order before putting it on sale?

And frankly, if I never read another instance where the main female character is 'raped into power,' I'd be happy. Such a tired and horrific trope.

To sum up, when it's good, it's very, very good, when it's bad - which is more often than not - it's utterly dreadful.

Read once and it's enough.
Profile Image for Latasha.
1,271 reviews366 followers
January 14, 2018
this book started out good but then we spend the next big chunk in flashbacks. I like flashbacks but there was so many, I forgot where we left off at the present. These Vampires and other pretenders are mean and vicious. There was a hellva lot of rape casually thrown around in this book, too. Sunglasses was ok but I'm not sure if i'll go on to read the next one or not. Maybe if I find it super cheap...
Profile Image for Alice.
845 reviews48 followers
May 29, 2015
Sometimes, context is everything. Nancy A. Collins wrote this book in the 1980's, after the rise of Anne Rice's pretty-boy, drinking-blood-as-a-metaphor-for-sex vampires. She went against that tide by making Sonja Blue the monstrous killer of older vampire stories, but forged a new path by giving her the tools and motivation to kill other monsters.

The book starts out in an insane asylum, which sets the tone pretty well. The story is told partially through the point of view of the overnight orderly who witnesses her escape. After he's badly beaten by the people who captured Sonja in the first place, she rescues/kidnaps him, and we finally learn what makes the monster tick. She's aware of her human background without feeling attached to it, and she wants to kill the monster who raped her into existence.

There is a lot of rape and gory violence in this book, which made the YA-looking packaging of this novel puzzling. I wouldn't say a teenager shouldn't read this book, but they're not the target demographic. Sonja Blue is not someone people should hope to grow up to be.

Collins manages to make Sonja sympathetic despite her monstrosity mostly through blaming the worst of the violence on an Other deep inside her who begs to be let free to rampage as she pleases. The Other is remorseless, bloodthirsty, and without pity. Sonja, herself, is an amalgam of Denise Thorne, the pretty millionaire heiress who vanished from London in the late 1960's, and the creature forged of rape, near-death, and blood. So by default, Sonja isn't someone you want to snuggle up with.

Collins does not, however, discard the "sexy vampire" thing. Sonja makes men hard when she drains them of blood, and she spends a lot of her first few years as a vampire sleeping with men for money. Through Claude, the orderly's, eyes, we see that she's both fascinating and repellent, and he want to escape her as much as he wants to sleep with her.

An awful lot of this book is spent explaining the background and character motivation. Once I got through that and a rocky start, the rest of the story flew. It seems like Collins needed the first 50 or so pages to figure out just how weird and heady she wanted the story.

Once I got over that bump, though, I did enjoy this book. It was a nice escape from the modern vampires who sneer and pose and don't actually kill anyone. In its day, this book and its sequels served as a bridge between the vampire-as-monster mythos, and the more modern, sympathetic creature of night. If one is looking for a badass lady Blade, one could do a lot worse than to spend some time with Sonja Blue.
Profile Image for Elaine Howlin.
269 reviews162 followers
August 14, 2018
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It was ok.
I wasn't aware before reading that the author had edited newer versions of the book. It kind of ruined the flow of the story for me. I knew the book was published in the late eighties and then came across mention of a DVD player which confused me. SO I looked up some reviews here to find out what was going on. There was also a lot of typos as well. Sometimes whole sentences were repeated with minor changes in the second sentence.

Read more reviews and other bookish content on my blog https://elainehowlin.wordpress.com
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Profile Image for Nancy.
176 reviews80 followers
January 13, 2018
Not worth the paper it’s written on. Or your time.

This could have been interesting story that kept you on the edge of your seat. Almost 50% of the book was spent on flashbacks of two characters. There was the first 59 pages of the book. Flashbacks for the next 84 pages. The last 42 pages are back to the story. Talk about completely taking you out of the story. What story there is, isn’t much of a story. Just a missed opportunity.

Profile Image for Vanessa.
641 reviews89 followers
September 9, 2010
Like the rest of the Western world, I am vamped out and picked this book because I didn't have other fiction handy over a holiday weekend. I really wasn't burning to read anything more about vampires indefinitely. But, I have liked Nancy Collins since I read her short story "Dancing Nitely" in the anthology Under the Fang and this book turned out to be clever and original and I loved the kickass heroine. Alas, vampires had to go and become culturally omnipresent but do bear in mind this book was written in the 90's when all vampires wanted to do with people was eat them. Not shag them and, God forbid, not mope over their tragic love for them. Kids, things were better then.

This book is the first of a trilogy about Sonja Blue, a woman who was attacked by a vampire and left for dead in swinging 1960's London. Through a series of coincidences she lives and becomes a hybrid. And once she finally regains her memory, she is exceptionally pissed about the whole thing. So she travels the world killing vamps and other assorted predators while looking for her maker. Unfortunately there are things after her as well, including a creepy televangelist. Ok, ok I know, you're thinking are you sure this chick isn't named Blade and played by Wesley Snipes? But this book came out well before the movies and at any rate, Collins builds a uniquely imagined, well-crafted world that probably has something to say about feminine identity and violence toward women if you care to delve beneath the shiny layers of mythology and ass kickery. Or if you want to just revel in those top layers, that's fine too.

I got this book as part of an omnibus version of the trilogy and most of it is dedicated to Sonja's backstory. I definitely will read the other two parts eventually. I have the feeling if the timing were different, I would have devoured these books back to back to back.

(one of my male coworkers read the first Sookie Stackhouse book recently and complained that after an epic chain fight in the first chapter, it was all downhill. I wonder if I should have steered him this way instead.)
Profile Image for Natlyn.
178 reviews1 follower
December 20, 2007
I remember very much wanting to read this when it came out sometime in the 1990s. I was going through a vampire phase. Unfortunately it was not worth the wait. The "story" is a series of horrific vignettes: Sonja Blue, the protag vampire, goes berserk; someone gets victimized; Sonja Blue goes berserk and someone gets victimized. Toward the end, Collins decides there should be some psychological development so Sonja integrates her sane self and her berserker self, neither of whom I cared about. I suppose if one is looking for just horror, this book would be decent, but I was too unthrilled to bother to continue with In the Blood and Paint It Black, which were included in the omnibus Midnight Blue.
Profile Image for Mike Finn.
1,153 reviews32 followers
November 6, 2021

'Sunglasses After Dark' is the first book in a book vampire series. Published in 1989, it was one of the books that kicked off the Urban Fantasy genre. It was a debut novel that was so ground-breaking that it won the Bram Stoker award.

Sad to say, I'd never heard of it. I was just looking for a book written or set in the 1980s that I could use for my Stranger Things Halloween Bingo square. I didn't have particularly high expectations. I thought a thirty-two-year-old book that kicked off a genre would be showing its age and be mainly of historical interest, but 'Sunglasses After Dark' strutted onto to stage of my imagination with all the bravado of the young tough and talented and demanded my attention, looking me in the eyes and saying with confidence that felt like a threat, 'My name is Sonja Blue and you've never met anyone like me'.

I gulped the novel down in two days. It was fresh and clever and filled with casual, graphic violence and transactional sex that felt raw and real rather than contrived and exploitative. Sonja Blue lives in a world splattered with blood, much of it her own work. Sonja Blue lives a heartless, vicious, violent world so completely lacking in glamour or romance that it makes other vampire books seem like Disney World.

The story starts in classic gothic style with the nightshift warder at the mental asylum who, hardened by decades of experience, is unafraid of the patients on the Danger Ward. Except for the women kept in an unfurnished padded cell, who wears nothing but a straightjacket and who scares him even in his dreams. The book launches into rapid, violent action that unleashes the strange woman on the world and introduces us to the two identities who share a body, one a teenage American heiress and the other a predator who is always hungry. Then we meet the baddy. A woman evangelist in a blonde wig and a gold lamé pantsuit who has her own TV channel where she performs miracle cures live on air. The pace slows a little, the timeframes widen and the geographic settings become more exotic as we get the backstory of both women both of which are filled with abusive men, violence, rage and more than human abilities. From there we build to the inevitable ballet of hate-driven violence as Sonja Blue confronts who she is and seeks retribution.

As I read the novel I was struck by how its strengths were those of a graphic novel: vivid original, uncompromising images, strong lead characters each with a distinctive style, strange creatures in exotic settings, a fast-moving plot, an atmosphere of evil and corruption and spectacular bloody carnage at regular intervals. Sonja Blue would have been at home on the pages of '2000AD' in the Eighties.

The books were turned into graphic novels in 2014 with stunningly stylish artwork by Stanley Shaw.

'Sunglasses After Dark' was a fun ride from beginning to end and a great start to a new series. I'll be reading the other three books in the coming months.

Profile Image for P.D..
Author 20 books29 followers
December 24, 2008
Sonja Blue is the perfect antidote to Twilight poisoning. The story is scary. The characters are creeped out. Sonja may be a vampire killer, but she is seriously twisted and dangerous in her own right.

Others claim the book is a poorly assembled series of vignettes. Personally, I did not find it so poorly assembled. The vignettes give us Sonja's history, from her birth as a vampire. And they are enthralling.

I think Sonja puts Anita Blake and Buffy both to shame. And I look forward to reading the other novels in this series.
Profile Image for Dfordoom.
434 reviews101 followers
April 5, 2008
A fun vampire tale; a wild erotic ride. More gore than I usuyally like, but very stylish. An Sonja Blue is such a kickass female vampire.
Profile Image for Nick.
964 reviews16 followers
January 15, 2018
Interesting world this is set in but it does have some issues.

It was a bit of a mess of flashbacks, bit part characters and side character introductions. When the bad (or lack of) editing wasn't present there was some ok scenes but the whole origin story etc shoved any actual plot out of the way so when you got back to it you just didn't really care or had forgotten who was who and what they had to do with anything.

The editing issues apparently stem from the author 'modernising' the story to include up to date references like DVD's and iPhone earpods. How they then managed to completely wreck the sentence structure I have no idea but obviously nobody cared enough to re-proof the alterations.
Profile Image for Shanon.
224 reviews41 followers
September 30, 2010
I enjoy “bad” vamps. The drop dead gorgeous, over-sexed vamps that abound today get tiring and are very unreal. Sonja Blue seems genuine to me and I love that about her. Sunglasses After Dark is gritty, dark, violent and FUN!
Author 4 books8 followers
August 13, 2007
My search for good vampire stories continues with reading Nancy Collins' offerings to the genre. I'd first heard of Sonja Blue from a short story Collins wrote for The Vampire Sextette, which was one of the few stories I actually enjoyed from that collection. The novel did live up to my expectations for the most part, but some of the structuring seemed a bit awkward and almost amateur. It's early in the series, so hopefully the immense "flashback infodump" section that dominated this book will not be a problem in later books. The novel would have been far less jarring and less "infodump" feeling if it had started with Sonja's conversion as a vampire and worked forward chronologically. But because it starts in the present, then takes a huge leap into the past, it felt awkward and a bit gimpy. There are also point-of-view issues, with a bit of head-hopping that really made no sense other than the author not being able to figure out how to convey her message through one or two central characters' viewpoint. It is very adult in nature - Sonja has a history as a prostitute and killing scenes are extremely graphic. The world itself intrigued me - Pretenders living among humans and passing as human - and I'm rather curious to see what the significance of seraphims will turn out to be.
Profile Image for K.D. McQuain.
Author 4 books78 followers
April 18, 2016
I wasn't sure I would enjoy this book when I started it. It seemed a little disjointed and difficult to follow. However, now that I have finished, I thing the incongruities are an intentional part of the atmosphere. Nancy Collins has put forth some interesting ideas regarding the nature of vampires in this book that fans of the genre will no doubt find interesting. I'm not sure if I will continue reading the series, but I did end up liking this one.
Profile Image for Strix.
247 reviews16 followers
February 4, 2019
Content warnings: gore, more gore, rape, sexual violence, abuse, emotional abuse, and animal death. This book is not for the faint-hearted.

While Sunglasses After Dark may have been written in '89, it is the most gothic punk 90s horror novel I could've asked for. The finale involves a mirror-shades wearing vampire invading a suburban mansion, setting it on fire, having a psychic battle with a half-succubus, shooting out guards and having a personal revelation about how comfortable she is with violence.

Should I mark that for spoilers? Nah. This isn't a book based on suspense, it's about gore and vampire lore and mixing creeping dread with radical violence.

Here's a quick breakdown of the book's structure: it opens in the present, with Sonja Blue captured in an insane asylum, and follows her and other characters for about a hundred pages, then it abruptly stops and goes into flashback mode, where you spent the next hundred pages finding out exactly how Sonja Blue became a vampire and what she did until the present day. It's a great flashback, fast and awful and it sucks you into this fledgling vampire's life - and once it's done, it immediately jumps back to the present and crashes into that explosive finale. Great, great stuff. Because it's so fast and punchy it's hard to read it slowly, you get sucked in.

All of that gore and sex does lend it a lurid air - but I want to salute Nancy Collins here, because it felt like it was trashy deliberately. Everything felt over the top that by the end I was just riding with every awful thing. Man strung up by his intestines? Not the first time, won't be the last. The sexual violence was treated almost exactly the same, too - you're horrified, it's awful, and it makes that horror sing.

One more really important note: the two major driving forces in this novel were women. Sonja Blue and the villainess. They both get backstories, they both get interesting motivations, and I really appreciate that. There's a lot of dudes in this novel, but the women are in the lead, deciding where to go and what to do. And Sonja! Sonja spends a lot of the novel figuring herself out - which makes sense, she's a baby vampire and completely ripped from society, and she's still not comfortable with the violence she's capable of. I like how her struggle was genuine, and fit with the vampire themes well.

All in all, highly recommended, I could not ask for more from this novel. For what it is - 90s gothic horror splatterpunk - it's one hell of a ride and I want more. Just be careful if you check this out, it's 100% gross horror and if you're not up for that this book is not for you.
Profile Image for Halley Hopson.
796 reviews53 followers
November 9, 2021
3.75 ⭐️

This world is fascinating but the writing style lost me at a couple of points. There was a prolonged flashback in the middle explaining where each of our characters came from and it definitely threw me off for a bit before I figured out what was going on. I love intricate and intriguing the creatures in this world are though and am looking forward to the rest of the series!
Profile Image for Erin.
113 reviews
November 5, 2010
Honestly, I gave this 3 stars because I didn't hate it and I can see how many people would enjoy the book. Collins is incredibly descriptive and there is nothing wrong with the story. I know intellectually that this is far more likely to be the behavior of someone who drinks human blood. However, it just really wasn't my cup of tea...or bottle of True Blood, be that as it may.

Sonja could have been a very sad character. I honestly believe she could have been written in such a way that my heart would have ached for all that she had lost and what she had become. Likewise, I think I could have liked her. She tries to not be the personification of evil. I can liken her a bit to Dexter Morgan in that she thinks she feels nothing but she clearly does. And what happened to her is so very very sad.

But Collins' style of storytelling...in short vignettes...takes away from the character building in that we don't spend enough time in any one situation to bond with the characters. Nobody is deep enough, including Sonja herself. And I mourn that a bit because I think I could have really like some of these characters, given time and development.

Maybe I will prove myself wrong but I don't think I will finish the series. While I can see why it is a well written book, I frankly didn't like it.

But I am curious to read Vamps, Collins' YA series. Maybe I will like it better.

In summation, I don't like my vampires to sparkle in the sun but I don't like them this way either.
Profile Image for Mark.
Author 69 books146 followers
June 24, 2022
Originally published in 1989, I read it some years later and remember enjoying it so was looking forward to this re-read. When heiress Denise Thorne disappears in 1969 London, no trace of her is ever found because she was abducted by a master vampire and became Sonja Blue, a “tough-as-nails punk vampire/vampire-slayer”. The story follows her learning her skills and working her way across Europe, wiping out vampires as she searches for the man who converted her and the sleazy televangelist - Catherine Wheele - who has been exploiting Denise’s parents.
It’s as gritty and dark as you could possibly want (it won the HWA Bram Stoker award, as well as the BFS Icarus Award) and Collins is a very accomplished writer, but the book feels dated now and there are way too many flashbacks. Seriously, almost every character gets one and I found myself skipping them after the halfway point. It builds to a clever climax and leaves the door open for sequels (none of which I’ve read) and is a decent example of the state of horror fiction of the time.
Profile Image for chucklesthescot.
2,905 reviews119 followers
October 19, 2011
Sonja Blue is locked up in an institution for the insane and is feared by staff and inmates alike as her monstrous side can enter their dreams to bring them terror and pain. So when she escapes a lot of people need to start worrying.

I found the whole alter ego thing to be very confusing. You seem to be getting told that Sonja is the evil part of the partnership but you can never tell exactly which personality is in control at what time. When inside Sonja's head you're not sure which part of her is actually thinking. Confusing and frustrating and not very well written.
Profile Image for Bethnoir.
609 reviews21 followers
January 1, 2019
Not sure how I'd forgotten the truly nightmarish nature of this book. I've read quite a lot by Nancy A Collins, but none as dark and hideous as this. There are no redeeming characters, everything is exploitative, violent, revolting and shocking. It kind of loses the impact after a while, which is rather alarming in retrospect.

I can't really recommend it, but admire it's unflinching habitation of horror and recognise some of the internal visions of the characters.
Profile Image for C.T. Phipps.
Author 68 books578 followers
October 2, 2018


SUNGLASSES AFTER DARK by Nancy A. Collins is the first of the Sonja Blue novels that I have been recommended multiple times but haven't gotten around to reading until now. I actually know Nancy Collins, first, from her Vampirella comics that were quite entertaining and sadly cut short. I also knew her to be an author who had briefly put her characters in the Vampire: The Masquerade universe but I had never read her signature Sonja Blue series.

The premise is Sonja Blue is the adopted persona of a young heiress who disappeared a couple of decades prior. Imprisoned inside a metal hospital, but only recently, she has a fascinating history the reader slowly discovers. Sonja is a "living" vampire who has managed to maintain most of her humanity upon her traumatic transition from rebellious teenage girl to vampire. Forced to work as a prostitute, eventually becoming a hunter of her own kind, Sonja must cope with the traumatic physical as well as psychological changes that have turned her from Denise Thorne to Sonja Blue. A vampire who struggles with a personified embodiment of psychopathia and hunger called "The Other" (who may be a demon or may be not).

The book's biggest selling point and what makes it interesting is it is a punk horror book, not a romance. It is about a young woman from a privileged background who survives a traumatic event (her literal rape accompanied by turning) before building herself back up on the margins of society. There's not a whiff of romance about being a vampire here and being the nicest vampire in the world means she's still a vicious hardcore killer. It's just most of her victims deserve it and she prefers to hunt on "Pretenders" (monsters living among us Muggles).

The punk themes are embodied by the primary villain being religious hypocrite and televangelist con woman, Catherine, exploiting her followers through the use of psychic powers. She has endured a life almost as horrifying as Sonja's but it has made her even more determined to be the boot rather the ant. Honestly, Catherine doesn't work that well as a villain because she seems fairly weak tea compared to Sonja's other opponents and her motivations are almost incidental to our heroine's problems. We also have Sonja's bisexual British Renfield and much time devoted to how society craps on women in general (which our heroine still suffers from because she needs money). Effectively, she just has our heroine imprisoned so she can keep bilking her parents but doesn't even know Sonja is a vampire for most of their relationship.

One thing I really liked about the characters is they all had surprisingly three-dimensional characterization and backstories which were all plausible. Claude is a pudgy ex-football player who gets caught up in circumstances beyond his control. Catherine is a "white trash" character who comes from an abusive fundamentalist background. Sonja's mother and father (or more precisely, Denise's) are both hit by her "death" differently. The book is incredibly violent and doesn't make any apologies about the fact vampires are monsters--incredibly dangerous ones at that. One of my favorite scenes in the book is when a convenience store clerk describes his encounter with a hold-up that Sonja "interrupts" and ends with a housewife finding the unfortunate stick-up artist dead in her trash cans. There was a kind of bleak humor that is found throughout.

I have to say that I have some criticisms about this book but I also feel kind of iffy about giving them. They're stylistic choices that probably explain why the book won a Stoker award versus a more generic format. This book is a anachronically ordered series of vignettes which are primarily concerned with how it feels to be a vampire as well as her life. Much of her history is told in flashbacks and exposition that still give a great sense of what a craptacular life she's lived. It switches from Claude's perspective to Sonja's to Catherine's to her minion's to Sonja again many times. Characters like Claude become irrelevant despite strong openings and are less important than the narrative implies they'll be. I felt this book hit me in the gut several times and I appreciate that but other readers may have issues with it. I confess, if I was the writer (which is always a dangerous thing to say), I would have gotten to Sonja's perspective and backstory earlier but I'm not a world-famous vampire writer.

In conclusion, this is an excellent Gothic Punk novel and perfectly fit the themes of books of the time period that laid the groundwork for what I liked about Vampire: The Masquerade and other dark fantasy fiction. It's violent, unapologetic, dark, and definitely of the horror genre--which is why it's awesome.
Profile Image for Colin MacDonald.
139 reviews3 followers
June 8, 2018
Wow. It just hit me that this book is nearly thirty years old. It holds up pretty well, though it's less remarkable now. I remember it as one of the formative works for vampires as goth-rock badasses. It came out hot on the heels of Near Dark and before Vampire the Masquerade. (I think of the Lestat books as being more high Gothic, but it's been a long time since I read them.) Now that that's a whole genre, I expect there are better books of that ilk out there; recommendations welcome.
Profile Image for Briana.
71 reviews
November 14, 2017
This was not what I was expecting from the title. I thought it would be a lot lighter, and instead it was dark and rather gory. What really bothered me was that it had obviously not been edited/proofread. Words were substituted for other words, words were left out completely so that the sentences didn't make sense, periods at the end of sentences were missing, and misuse of commas or lack thereof. Drove me nuts while trying to read it. I only continued reading it because I needed to find out what happened to the main character.
Profile Image for Marty.
121 reviews
February 19, 2014
If you're sick to death of the 'Twilight' approach to vampire literature, this book will cure that malaise pretty thoroughly. Be aware, though, that the violence and gore is quite graphic.

Sonja Blue, the main character, formerly heiress Denise Johnson, became a vampire in 1969 as a result of a brutal attack by the so-called 'Sir Morgan,' a "Noble" level vampire, who left her for dead. In this case, a human being is transformed by become a host to a 'demon,' or as Sonja calls it, the Other. At the beginning of the story, she's being held captive in a high end mental institution, being pumped full of drugs to keep her under control. Unfortunately for those who kidnapped her, vampires can eventually build up an immunity to drugs of all kinds. She eventually breaks out and goes on the hunt for those who put her away.

Most of the book is concerned with Sonja's back story - her awakening as a vampire, her post-human existence as a prostitute in Europe, her encounters with other supernatural beings and her quest to find Sir Morgan. The human population, in this book, doesn't see the Pretenders, the vampires, ogres, succubi and other supernatural creatures that live side by side with them all over the world. Sonja meets up with several such nasty characters, including Revenants, the most common types of vampires.

Sonja's a tough character to like sometimes, but you do like her - she has a conscience, which makes living with the destructive (and malevolently sarcastic) Other extremely difficult. It's a constant battle to keep her bad side under control. Sonja's also a freak in a world of freaks. She is developing into a Noble vampire at an accelerated rate and appears to have very few of the typical vampire weaknesses. Ironically, she's also a self-styled vampire hunter, out for revenge on the monster who took her human life away. In short, she comes off as a sort of female "Blade" just without the messianic zeal for killing any and all of the undead.

I meant to start reading this series some time ago. It's a quick read, as well as a compelling one. As I said earlier, the gross-out factor of some of the more descriptive violent scenes will probably be too disturbing for some readers. Still, I'm interested to see where Collins takes this character.

Profile Image for T.L..
Author 28 books14 followers
December 23, 2014
Fantastic vampire novel with not a sparkle in sight. Looking forward to reading the rest of the Sonja Blue series.

December 23, 2014

Good afternoon constant reader.

If you're looking for a gritty, bloody, no holds barred, in your face no-sparkling-vampires-allowed vampire tale, then this is the book for you.
While Nancy A. Collins is not a "new" author by any means, you need to run, not walk, to your nearest book source and read what you've been missing.

Allow me to introduce you to Sonja Blue. She's a vampire with an ax to grind big time.
When we first meet Sonja, she's cooped up in a loony bin and is slowly but surely starting to shrug off the drugs she's sedated with and able to figure out her predicament. Sonja's "other" is getting stronger and stronger and enables her to finally break out and into the freedom of the night, to pursue her identity and some vengeance.

Sonja is a tragic figure. Memories of who she was before she was turned into a vampire plague her and drive her to the edge of madness. Make no mistake though, when push comes to shove, Sonja reacts in true vampire style.
Blood definitely flows...or splatters, as the case may be.

Another pivotal character in our tale is Catherine Wheele. She's a powerful, enigmatic, charismatic televangelist. Add ruthless to that list and you have the ingredients for a humdinger of an antagonist.

The end scene is satisfying when certain people arrive at their just desserts.

Nancy A. Collins's world of darkness is painted from a rich palette populated not only by vampires, but demons, ogres and other bump-in-the-nighters.

The series of Sonja novels stretches 10 books, with a new one on the rise.
Profile Image for Dee Rogers.
81 reviews
May 26, 2022
CW: rape (for the book and this review)
This is such a trashy book but I had a really good time with it. I found a copy in a used bookstore with a very 80s cover that I just love. I was afraid at the beginning that it was going to center too much around Claude, the big hulking man that Sonja ends up protecting, but this is very much Sonja's book.

I really enjoyed it, but I'd be cautious recommending Sunglasses After Dark to others. It's brutally gory and violent, and in particular rape comes up again and again, men on women and also women on men; I winced a lot. Some of those scenes are quite graphic, and some of them involve mind control (vampires and psychics abound). This would all have been hard to read from a male perspective and I think it would have felt different from a male author. But knowing a woman wrote it, and seeing precisely how Nancy Collins handled these scenes (mostly from a female perspective and if not with female agency centered), they felt like honest explorations of very dark fantasies.

This is a very personal thing but I really value connecting with that kind of material written by women, particularly from older books (i.e. that were published before I was an adult). It feels like a connection and affirmation of something, our grimy but shared humanity, maybe. Like someone's telling me a ghost story and they're making it really gory and weird and scary and I'm kind of horrified but I really want to hear the end.
Profile Image for Paxnirvana.
121 reviews15 followers
March 10, 2009
Except for the rather bitter author's note in this "ten years later" edition, this was an enjoyable read. Maybe if I'd read this book for the first time back when it was "new and edgy" I might have another opinion (ie: be a fan), but really, author. Get over it. Everyone 'rips off' everyone else. Even you.

Unfortunately, I didn't like or engage with the main character enough to keep looking for more stories about her. The side characters ended up being more interesting, and, by the end that hardly matters since the main character is clearly what it's all about and no one is allowed to steal her thunder. *shrug*

Particularly since she's pretty much the only one to survive to the end. Keeps it simple, I guess.

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