x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

A new life for a cult hit

Stephenie Meyer's new vampire spin-off, The Brief Second Life of Bree Tanner, will be distributed for free.

Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series is so compelling that readers just keep wanting more.
Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series is so compelling that readers just keep wanting more.

Who is this Bree Tanner, I hear you thinking. Is she that red-haired, smug one from Desperate Housewives? Nope. That's Bree Van de Kamp. Do try to keep up with your cultural references, people. Bree Tanner is the latest sensation to fall from the pen of Stephenie Meyer. Ah, Stephenie Meyer you say. That's an easy one. She's the author of all those vampire books, Sunrise or Penumbra. Or whatever they're called. Twilight, that's the one you're groping for. And surprise, surprise, even though we all thought Meyer had wrapped up the series with Breaking Dawn, she's decided to push out another one.

Apparently, being the author of a series that has sold approximately 60 gazillion copies across the world isn't enough. Last week, Meyer announced on her website that she wants to reward her fans with a little extra nugget of vampire gold, a 200-page novella entitled The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. And the best news of all for all you freaky vampire obsessives? This novella will be available free on the internet for download from June 5, as a "gift" says Meyer.

"My publisher was awesome and embraced this idea," she says of the charitable move, although the publisher doesn't appear to have been totally convinced. A traditional, hard copy will also be released for sale two days later at the pocket-money price of US$13.99 (Dh51). Someone has to put food on the table, eh Stephenie? Bree Tanner will be a name unfamiliar to all but the most diehard Twilight fans, (the sort who have read every book 20 times and wish that Edward Cullen was their boyfriend). She is one of the newborn army that crops up in book number three, Eclipse.

What is this newborn army? Well, you mythical dullard, think back to Victoria. We meet her in book one, Twilight. She is the evil, flame-haired vampire who wants to carry out revenge on that drippy heroine, Bella, for the murder of her mate, James. In order to do so, we learn in Eclipse that Victoria has taken herself to Seattle, and is busy nipping people in the neck to turn them into vampires because fresh, young vampires are the most bloodthirsty and uncontrollable. With their help, Victoria aims to destroy Bella and the Cullen family back in Forks.

The trouble is, Bree is a rubbish newborn vampire. She is the sort of anaemic human being who would be a vegan, so she tries to join the Cullen clan instead of kill them. This they accept, but she is then killed by the head vampire clan, the Volturi. In fact, so irrelevant does Bree seem in Eclipse, that she is killed a mere 10 pages after she is introduced. Happy news, then, that she is now to have her own moment in the sunlight (metaphorically-speaking, silly; obviously Twilight vampires can't step into the sunshine without their skin going all sparkly).

"This story was something that I worked on, off and on for a while, just for fun, in between the times I was writing or editing other Twilight novels," explains Meyer on her website. "Later, when the concept for The Twilight Saga: The Official Guide came up, I thought that might be a good place for Bree," she adds. "Her story is a nice complement to Eclipse; it explains a lot of the things that Bella never knew." But as Bree's wittering extended to 200 pages, it was deemed too long for the guide. Hence a separate release all of her own. Good news for those of us who would rather poke our eyes out than read more of Bella's self-indulgent waffle.

In the novella, we will learn the background of Victoria's activities in Seattle and the creation of the army. There will presumably be little room for teenage angst over vampires and werewolves, although it's perhaps advisable to brace yourself for a tiny bit of that just in case Meyer squeezes some in. And would you believe it, the timing of this release coincides almost perfectly with the arrival of the third Twilight film, which is out in July. Isn't that the most marvellous coincidence?