A Holocaust Novel with Fangs


It’s hard to pick up a novel these days without encountering vampires and zombies. Even the classics (see: Pride and Prejudice) are not immune from the craze. But there’s one mode of storytelling from which, until recently, imaginary monsters were conspicuously missing: the Holocaust novel.

Not anymore. Add to your bookshelf’s “Undead” section The Color of Light, Helen Maryles Shankman’s debut novel. This vampire tale is set in an art school that closely resembles the New York Academy of Art, which just happens to be Shankman’s alma mater. There, the pale, mysterious, and independently wealthy headmaster Raphael is often mistaken for a vampire. Or maybe it’s not a mistake at all.

But Raphael has a bigger secret: One of his students, Tessa, makes portraits that resemble a woman he cared about who perished in the Holocaust. Looking for the connection between Tessa and his lost love, Raphael gets closer to the young painter than he intends. The prose can be overindulgent, and the story takes its time leaving the station, but once it gets going, The Color of Light weaves a love story that will leave your mouth hanging open (and, possibly your fangs showing).

Recommended from JTA