Andrew Katz, The Vampire Gideon’s Suicide Hotline & Halfway House for Orphaned Girls. Lanternfish Press, 2018. Pp. 235. ISBN 978-1-941360-20-0. $16.00.Reviewed by Don Riggs
Sometimes you have to travel far to find some treasure near home. This was the case with this book, published by a small press in my home city of Philadelphia, PA; I picked up The Vampire Gideon’s Suicide Hotline at the Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts in Orlando, FL two years ago. Because I do not ordinarily read horror or vampire fiction, I shelved it until recently when, unable to go out to libraries or bookstores because of the pandemic, I read it, and found I could not put it down. The title summarizes the basic situation of the story: Gideon—being the vampire’s name, rather than a reference to the Gideon Bible—operates an informal suicide hotline. Several of his regular callers show him at work, de-escalating their emotional states until they have gone beyond the likelihood that they will take their lives. Or, alternatively, until they do. One of his regulars tells him he should not be operating this telephone hotline, as he has no training. Gideon’s final argument against his callers’ killing themselves is that he knows death is not a solution for their despair, because they have not died. He has.