Still Life

Still Life

With the suicide of her best friend, burned-out rock star Nikki Velvet came face-to-face with death, and she'd do anything not to face it again. When a mysterious stranger offers her immortality, she believes she's found what she's been searching for, but it's nothing like she's imagined .... Sylvan, the beautiful stranger who'd promised to make her a vampire, turned out t...

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Title:Still Life
Author:Michael Montoure
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Still Life Reviews

  • Joy

    STILL LIFE grew from the seed of the story "One Last Sunset" in the collection SLICES. It is a deeper, more nuanced look at the circumstances and results of Nikki Velvet's world-weary choices on the night she finally succeeds in meeting a vampire. In seeking to avoid death she may have cut herself off from more than she expected, and as she navigates the consequences of her new existence, her sense of self may become her greatest asset.

    I was lucky to obtain an advance reading copy, and I thoroug

    STILL LIFE grew from the seed of the story "One Last Sunset" in the collection SLICES. It is a deeper, more nuanced look at the circumstances and results of Nikki Velvet's world-weary choices on the night she finally succeeds in meeting a vampire. In seeking to avoid death she may have cut herself off from more than she expected, and as she navigates the consequences of her new existence, her sense of self may become her greatest asset.

    I was lucky to obtain an advance reading copy, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I have always loved Michael Montoure's unique take on the traditional horror tropes. He provides a fresh and genuinely disturbing vampire tale with his usual insight and style. The ending was a true surprise to me, but a resonant and moving one. Extra-especially recommended for old SeattleGothic e-list members, Mercury patrons and aficionados of local Seattle literature/culture.

  • Linda

    This book deserves four stars. The author, a talented wordsmith, makes his words flow for the reader. His mechanics of good writing are excellent.

    This book is a dark story about Nikki, a girl who wants to become a vampire and thus live forever. She has lost to death the only people who had ever loved her and she had loved in return. Sylvan takes her in and facilitates her desire through Paul, a vampire. Sylvan controls Nikki and Paul by feeding them his own blood. They are totally dependent upon

    This book deserves four stars. The author, a talented wordsmith, makes his words flow for the reader. His mechanics of good writing are excellent.

    This book is a dark story about Nikki, a girl who wants to become a vampire and thus live forever. She has lost to death the only people who had ever loved her and she had loved in return. Sylvan takes her in and facilitates her desire through Paul, a vampire. Sylvan controls Nikki and Paul by feeding them his own blood. They are totally dependent upon Sylvan, living in a world where they are neither alive nor dead. When Sylvan orders Nikki to turn a young boy, she realizes that Sylvan and his friends are vampire collectors.

    Readers, you will enjoy reading this book. I have stated the set-up. It is now your time to move into the shadowland to experience the many twists and turns the author has written. Don't be afraid. There is no doubt this author CAN write, but he won't bite. I promise.

    Thank you, Mr. Montoure, for another good read.

  • Jade

    When I first read the short story `One Last Sunset' in Michael's anthology called Slices, I was dying to know more about Nikki Velvet! So I was super excited to see she was going to get her very own novel and I was finally going to get more back story and find out what happened to her...and this gave it to me!

    It's an interesting take on the whole `making' of a vampire...you could really feel the need and desire and the love/hate relationship involved in any kind of addiction...the "I hate you wi

    When I first read the short story `One Last Sunset' in Michael's anthology called Slices, I was dying to know more about Nikki Velvet! So I was super excited to see she was going to get her very own novel and I was finally going to get more back story and find out what happened to her...and this gave it to me!

    It's an interesting take on the whole `making' of a vampire...you could really feel the need and desire and the love/hate relationship involved in any kind of addiction...the "I hate you with a passion, but I can't seem to see a way to survive without you for another second...and I hate you for making me want you" thing! It's so well done in this book! I found myself both frustrated with Nikki for being so naïve at times in her expectations...and at others I'm excited and cheering her on to go, fight, do it!!

    The writing, as usual, is so well done that your interest is held beginning to end. I've thoroughly enjoyed Michael Montoure's short stories, and though this book isn't as quite as creepy as some of the shorts, it's satisfying in a different way...because here you get a whole fulfilled adventure!

  • Timothy Ward

    Michael is one of my favorite authors because of how he excells at creating empathy and interest in his characters, building worlds that are just as entertaining, and keeping me from guessing what will happen next. All of these qualities are present in Still Life, his first novel, creating a quick, enjoyable read.

    Nikki Velvet was first introduced in the short story, "One Last Sunset," from his anthology,

    , which I loved, and reviewed (

    ). She is a guitarist from a popular rock group who

    Michael is one of my favorite authors because of how he excells at creating empathy and interest in his characters, building worlds that are just as entertaining, and keeping me from guessing what will happen next. All of these qualities are present in Still Life, his first novel, creating a quick, enjoyable read.

    Nikki Velvet was first introduced in the short story, "One Last Sunset," from his anthology,

    , which I loved, and reviewed (

    ). She is a guitarist from a popular rock group who lost her best friend and lead singer to suicide. This loss haunts her still, and because of her fear of death, leads her to seek out a vampire to ensure that she never dies. Montoure's creation of Nikki and her hardships evokes strong empathy to see her find happiness.

    What follows after meeting her vampire creates conflict far more terrifying than just being happy.

    Fear of death leads to enslavement to dark desires as she fails to prevent becoming a monster. Montoure balances her attempts to escape with rising action and failure so that the book stays interesting to the end. The only real complaint I had was wanting a larger scope to this world and her adventure. Most of the book is spent in one location, but this claustrophobia works with the theme of enslavement, and adds to the tension. Montoure eases this later on but maintains tension through new and increased conflict.

    The ending was surprising and fulfilling based on promises made and the main character's desires and failures. Excellent first novel from a writer who has honed his craft writing some of my favorite Horror in short story form.

  • Stacey

    I received this book as part of the first-reads giveaway and while I enjoy a good vampire tale I thought how different could it be? I was surprised. The book is a spin on the vampire tale that I hadn't seen before. Most vampire novels that I have read portray vampires as beautiful, affluent, sometimes shiny individuals whose lives are solitary but otherwise amazing. From Twilight to True Blood we see vampires whose lives we envy. This book takes a look at the darker side of the tale. What it mig

    I received this book as part of the first-reads giveaway and while I enjoy a good vampire tale I thought how different could it be? I was surprised. The book is a spin on the vampire tale that I hadn't seen before. Most vampire novels that I have read portray vampires as beautiful, affluent, sometimes shiny individuals whose lives are solitary but otherwise amazing. From Twilight to True Blood we see vampires whose lives we envy. This book takes a look at the darker side of the tale. What it might be like to live forever and who might you be stuck with? The book is filled with diverse characters who are not always likable but display real depth. It's an interesting and worthwhile read.

  • Melissa

    This is a full length novel with a different take on the vampire stories. The author has an amazing ability to pull you in and keep you turning the pages. It was easy to read and the storyline was well developed. I am looking forward to reading more from this author.

  • Sherry Fundin

    Nikki Velvet was bereft after the suicide of Gabe.

    She could not get past it. It haunted her and pissed her off.

    Nothing glamorous about it. “You just looked like a fucking idiot.”

    “I found a way out, a way to beat the game.” – Nikki said to herself.

    She had no idea the price to be paid for her decision.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    The cover captured me immediately. Nice work, Michael. The blurb did not prepare me for the story. Michael did an excellent job of writing from a woman’s perspective. The story contained

    Nikki Velvet was bereft after the suicide of Gabe.

    She could not get past it. It haunted her and pissed her off.

    Nothing glamorous about it. “You just looked like a fucking idiot.”

    “I found a way out, a way to beat the game.” – Nikki said to herself.

    She had no idea the price to be paid for her decision.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    The cover captured me immediately. Nice work, Michael. The blurb did not prepare me for the story. Michael did an excellent job of writing from a woman’s perspective. The story contained between the pages is not your run of the mill bite and run vampire party. It is a psychological journey of Nikki Velvet’s descent into hell, that had my skin crawling.

    If you want to know why someone may want to become a vampire and the process they go through to make it happen, meet Nikki Velvet.

    The description of her change from human to vampire was graphic and detailed. Her attempts to grab a breath of air, not realizing breathing was no longer necessary, had me holding my breath. Her mind was foggy, her limbs unwilling to move to her commands, she was unable to speak. Finally she stops struggling, letting go and drifting away.

    I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when she looks at the toilet and realizes she would never need that again. And books – no limitations. She has forever to read.

    “I gave you what you wanted. It might not be everything you hoped it would be, but its just what you asked for all the same.”

    The physical, emotional and psychological torments Nikki goes through had me shivering with the creepiness, as I TRIED to walk in her shoes. She had never anticipated the toll that turning into a vampire would take on her and the torture Sylvan (a human) would put her through. Creepy Paul was always lingering around the edges of her life.

    Michael describes Nikki’s experience after she jumps off the bridge and I wanted to be there – floating in the water, drifting, letting it take me wherever the current flowed, no need to breathe. Is that what it is like to be a mermaid? Is it like flying?

    Michael Montoure’s Still Life is all about Nikki – being free of life, being maimed and tortured, used and abused. As she navigates the way through her madness to a new life, I cringe and cower, while I question how it will end.

    This was hard for me to rate. I can’t pinpoint what was missing, but Still Life didn’t get me to the level of WOW. But, I had not read anything quite like this,.Kudos to Michael for giving me a fresh and unique insight into human and vampire interaction. His characters are well defined, making me hate most of them. And Nikki – what can I say about someone so lost that they would die to become immortal?

    I received this book from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review. I enjoyed the journey and I look forward to reading more of his work

  • Catherine Siemann

    I read about this book on the Gothic Charm School blog, and it turned out to be exactly what I expected -- an interesting twist on the vampire mythos, as well as an effective exploration of the damage grief can do to those left behind. I picked it up in the middle of the night in a bout of insomnia; it was a quick read, an effectively claustrophobic atmosphere, and a narrator whose fate I found myself caring about despite her self-destructive choices.

  • Heidi Angell

    My Take: **** Warning, there will be some spoilers*** The author takes a very interesting approach to vampires. His vampires don't have fangs. They have regular human teeth. When Nikki is turned, she becomes a pet to a human who cuts himself and feeds her through the wound in her neck that was made when she was turned, and the experience is described like a drug. I have to admit, I didn't care for this interesting new take on vampires. Not because I think vampires should be sexy. Anyone who has

    My Take: **** Warning, there will be some spoilers*** The author takes a very interesting approach to vampires. His vampires don't have fangs. They have regular human teeth. When Nikki is turned, she becomes a pet to a human who cuts himself and feeds her through the wound in her neck that was made when she was turned, and the experience is described like a drug. I have to admit, I didn't care for this interesting new take on vampires. Not because I think vampires should be sexy. Anyone who has ever read The Hunters knows I am think vampire should be killed not kissed.

    But these vampires as pets are just tragic. It is just so bizarre. I get how he wove the story, and I thought he did an amazing job with that! But this type of tragic vampire just isn't my cup of tea. If I want to read tragic vampires, Anne Rice did a wonderful job of that. This type makes it too easy for the vampire posers that he references in the beginning to believe they have become vampires.

    Or maybe I am just a codgy old woman tired of people messing with the lore of my childhood ;) That being said, this story is amazingly written. The vivde imagery and wordplay in moments are astounding. I have read a lot of stories about junkies and the way he paints the high is very reminiscent. I have read lots of stories about abusive relationships and the patterns he holds to echo disturbingly.

    I did read a pre-edited copy. (It got lost in my stack, for which I feel absolutely awful!) so I won't comment too much on the editing, because a lot of it would have gotten caught. However, a few things I will note because I noticed in the preview of it on Amazon that these didn't look like they were changed.

    1. I found it annoying that Nikki used "was all" A LOT! But wrote it off as a character flaw, until other characters started doing it too. Then I realised it was a writing flaw. One that drove me absolutely bonkers!

    2. The layout choices really bugged me. The way he capitalized the whole first sentence of new sections was very distracting and pulled me out of the story. I had never seen it done before and I am not sure why he made that choice. At first I thought it may have been his way around Smashwords meat grinder, but the book is not on Smashwords. I still cannot fathom the logic behind that choice.

    But overall, it was a well-crafted story. If you are open to different versions of vampires, enjoy dark tragic stories, and beautiful imagery about dark things, then this is a book you should read.

  • Rebecca McNutt

    Interesting idea, but not very original at all, and often

    just came across as self-indulgent and overdramatic. That being said, I love the author's prose and style, which is, in and of itself, very unique and makes this book well worth checking out.

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