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Literature / Laura Caxton

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Laura Caxton is the heroine of David Wellington's Laura Caxton vampire series. The pentalogy includes 13 Bullets (2006), 99 Coffins (2007), Vampire Zero (2008), 23 Hours (2009), and 32 Fangs (2012). Although Laura is an attractive young woman and a lesbian, this is not a sexy vampire series. Vampires in this world are creepy, hairless albinos with pointy ears and more sharklike teeth than can fit in a human mouth. They're more likely to rip off your arm or head to drink your blood instead of piercing your neck daintily with a couple of enlarged canines.

Since you're unlikely to survive being eaten intact, it's fortunate (for the vampires) that vampirism isn't transferred by blood. Instead, the curse is transferred psychically through the silent ritual. Some people can fall for it instantly, but others like Laura can resist for hours. In either case, the victim has to commit suicide to rise as a vampire the next night. You kill them by destroying the heart, though you don't need a Wooden Stake to do so. In fact, there's almost no hope that a wooden stake could pierce a vampire's chest in this series.

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The series features a mix of fantasy and real-world elements, as Laura employs the aid of magic charms and psychics in addition to her use of guns and other modern devices.


Tropes found in the series:

  • And Then John Was a Zombie: 99 Coffins ends with Arkley becoming a vampire himself, with Vampire Zero looking at his subsequent attacks on his own family as he succumbs to his vampire instincts.
  • Became Their Own Antithesis: Vampire Zero explores Arkley's new activities as a vampire, as he uses his knowledge to subvert Laura's attempts to hunt him.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Bloodier and gorier than most vampire fiction.
  • Blood Lust: All vampires have it. Few vampires can stop themselves from feeding if there is human blood available, a fact which Laura uses to save herself more than once by driving an intelligent foe into an unthinking frenzy.
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  • The Dark Side Will Make You Forget: Vampire Zero explicitly explores how Arkley's remaining human affection for his family has been corrupted by his vampire side's loathing of that part of himself.
  • Decoy Protagonist: The prologue to 13 Bullets features Jameson Arkley exclusively, as does the summary on the back cover. One would almost suspect Laura of being this, given that she plays Robin to Jameson's Batman through most of the book.
  • Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: Arkley and Laura occasionally use vampire teeth in their bullets, as the teeth are sharp enough to penetrate a vampire's skin.
  • "Die Hard" on an X: 23 Hours is Die Hard in a prison . . . with vampires!
  • Eye Scream: Justinia killed herself to become a vampire by shooting herself in the head, simultaneously destroying her left eye.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Jameson Arkley becomes a vampire for noble reasons but embraces the beast completely before long.
  • Fingore: Arkley loses most of the fingers on one hand in the first book.
  • Hunter of His Own Kind: In 99 Coffins, Arkley becomes a vampire so that he can destroy the titular 99 reborn vampires by himself, believing that he could control himself enough to return and be killed after they were all dead.
  • Lesbian Vampire: Laura's partner becomes a vampire in 13 Bullets.
  • Looks Like Orlok
  • Mentor Ship: Arkley's ex-wife accuses Laura of having this with him after Arkley becomes a vampire, apparently ignorant of the fact that Laura is a lesbian.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: Vampires have mouthfuls of sharklike teeth. Older vampires may have lost or broken some, but even after centuries of undeath, they have more than enough to bite off your limbs.
  • Obsolete Mentor: Arkley comes to feel like this in 99 Coffins due to his lost fingers and old age.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Vampires die at dawn, rotting away to a pool of deliquescent flesh, which is why they need a coffin or another container. While in this state, their heart can be removed and destroyed easily. If the heart is removed without being destroyed, it can be replaced later (over a century later in 99 Coffins) and the vampire will be resurrected as normal at dusk. Vampires are at their strongest on the night they rise and also become weaker as they age, requiring more and more blood to maintain a lifelike body. The primary antagonist of the series, Justinia Malvern, is over 300-years old, and spends most of the books as a skeletal corpse in a coffin, barely able to move a finger to communicate by typing (her larynx has rotted away); it is estimated that she would need six gallons of blood a night just to walk on her own.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide: Part of the transformation into a vampire involves the subject being compelled to kill themselves; once this compulsion has worn off, the risk of turning into a vampire after death has generally elapsed.
  • The Renfield: There are a few cases of this, ranging from people who have been manipulated into feeling 'sorry' for Justinia's withered condition to people serving her because they're dying of an illness already and prefer the extra life they'll have as a vampire over the natural death awaiting them if they do nothing.
  • Staking the Loved One: Laura has to do this more than once.
  • Tear Off Your Face: When a vampire brings a victim Back from the Dead, the psychological trauma of the event causes the revived person to rip their own face to shreds.
  • The End... Or Is It?: At the end of the fourth book, 23 hours, it's heavily implied that the body that the police thought was Malvern is really one of the inmates turned into a vampire.
  • Vampire Bites Suck
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The legal debates around this question are basically the reason Justinia wasn't executed decades ago; while nobody had a problem with Arkley killing her servant, even though he was walking and talking, when he was actually killing people, they chose to keep Justinia alive and in captivity because they had no evidence that she'd ever attacked anyone herself. Ultimately ended in Vampire Zero, when her role in Arkley's transformation deprives her of her legal protection, unfortunately after she has escaped captivity.
  • Your Vampires Suck: Vampires are ridiculously tough. The first vampire kill is done by trapping it under a ditch witch, then using a jackhammer to break through its chest and destroy its heart. The more blood they drink, the stronger they become, healing wounds instantaneously, though they do become slower if they gorge themselves.

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