I love it when an author approaches an old tale with completely new eyes. A Patch of Dry Skin is most definitely a new take on the old tale, and I must say it's about time! Indie Author Stephen Swartz has put together a well-crafted tale that is both a horror story and a morality tale.
But first, the Blurb:
The truth about being a vampire: It is not cool, not sexy. It’s a painful, miserable existence.
Good reason to avoid that situation, thinks Stefan Székely. He's too busy falling in love with TV reporter Penny Park, anyway. Until one day when she notices he has a dry patch of skin on his face.
At first it's annoying, nothing to worry about, some weird skin disease he can treat with lotions. However, as his affliction worsens, Stefan fears that his unsightly problem will ruin his relationship with Penny.
If only that was all Stefan has to worry about! He soon realizes there is a lot more at stake than his handsome face. To save himself, Stefan must go in search of a cure for the disease which is literally destroying him inch by inch. If only his parents had told him of his family's legacy.
This is a deep book--I found myself thinking about it long after I finished reading it. Stefan Székely is an interesting character. He's a successful phlebotomist, his parents have died, he's approaching middle-age, and has finally fallen in love with a woman he could spend the rest of his life with.
Unfortunately, he has this little eczema problem, which begins slowly, and soon escalates to tragic proportions. Confused and just wanting it to go away, Stefan consults doctors, seeking treatment through progressive western medicine, to no avail.
Penny is a strong woman, but the disfiguring disease is sometimes too much for her. If Stefan is to keep Penny, their romance has many bumps to overcome, and some of those are insurmountable. Salvaging his romance with Penny becomes Stefan's obsession.
Stefan has a high sense of morality, and when he accidentally discovers that blood relieves the symptoms, he is faced with making terrible choices, none of which are good for either his career or his relationship with beautiful Penny.
Things really take a change for the strange when he seeks an unusual treatment in New Orleans. This tale takes the reader all over the world, and into some dark places. The characters he meets along the way are wonderfully portrayed. The sense of history in each location is there, underpinning the story, and his journey becomes a quest for salvation--one he may not achieve. The ending of this tale is both surprising, and is really the only way it could have ended when you think about it.
All in all, I give A Patch of Dry Skin 5 full stars. This is a classic horror story with a non-traditional twist.