With questions left unanswered at the end of DFAEG regarding ghouls and their response to Cat, Engarde started wondering what we really know about ghouls. She happens to have an e-reader and jotted down any mention of ghouls in the Cat & Bones books 1-4, the anthologies, frost fan website as well as interviews:
Ghouls are a sister race to vampires. They have the same societal structures as vampires, and they conform to the same rules. But there are a few things different about them:
Ghouls eat raw meat with the occasional body part supplement.
Ghouls can only be killed by decapitation.
The birth of a new ghoul – A human is mortally wounded and then given a small amount of vampire blood to drink. Once dead, a ghoul switches his/her heart with the human’s heart. Vampire blood is then poured over the donated ghoul heart to “activate” it, and the dead human rises as a ghoul.
They look exactly human. No telltale crystal clarity to her flesh.
Ghouls don’t have any power in their gaze, so no need to worry about them mesmerizing anyone.
Note: some of these characteristics are due to Marie’s use of the dark arts. I included them as Marie is a ghoul, even though she may have special powers.
The story opens with ghouls preying on tourists in New Orleans.
“…Bones wondered again why Marie [aka Majestic] had summoned him. He didn’t have to come; he wasn’t under her line, so he owed her no loyalty. But when the queen of New Orleans called, Bones answered. For starters, he respected Marie. And he reckoned his head wouldn’t enjoy sitting atop his shoulders much longer if he snubbed her. Though chances were, what Marie wanted would involve Bones killing someone.”
“It wasn’t five minutes before a gigantic man walked toward him. His aura announced him as a ghoul, though he looked nothing like Hollywood’s interpretation of one. No, he had smooth brown skin, a bald head, and a barrel-like chest, the very picture of health and vitality. Except his walk, which had a noticeable awkwardness that was at odds with the normal, graceful gait of the undead.”
“The only thing that didn’t grow back after being cut off from a vampire or ghoul was his head.”
“He’d had meetings with Marie before, and they were only ever held in the cemetery’s underbelly, righty below where her empty grave was.”
“Marie was notorious for handling requests, threats, or punishments herself…”
“‘How many ghouls and vampires live in the city?’ Bones asked. Jelani mulled it for a moment. ‘Year round, a few hundred. At Mardi Gras, that number doubles, easily.’”
“From the shallowness of his wounds, he was likely still alive when they ate his arms…”
Chapter 8 (some info about ghoul government)
“My only hope is that Majestic is kind enough to make death my punishment for my betrayal, instead of casting me off without her protection.”
“Jelani couldn’t wield a knife in defense of his line or in defense of Marie’s, which was the expectation of any member of an undead line.”… “Looking at it coldly, all Jelani had to offer Majestic in return for her protection was his loyalty, and he’d just burned that by going behind her back over the LaLauries. Even if Marie sympathized with why he did it, she’d still have no choice except to kill him for it. Not if she didn’t want to be regarded as a weak leader.”
“And if Bones was being practical, now that he knew none of this had been sanctioned by Marie, he’d leave the city tonight. Then once Jelani’s deeds were revealed, Bones could truthfully claim ignorance of the man’s betrayal.”
“But if he didn’t, any further actions he took would be held up to judgment by the queen of the city. Bones was a trespasser, hunting on Marie’s grounds without her permission. He knew she wouldn’t look too kindly on that.”
“Ghouls are stronger during the day, while vampires are weaker.”
“The lights were off, not that ghouls needed illumination to see.”
Attack on Bones was one of silver to slow him and then direct assault.
“A ghouls’s body didn’t have enough blood in it to put them [flares/fire] out.”
“The only reason she was still alive was the [ghouls] had used some of their own blood to seal the gaping wounds left where her limbs used to be.”
“Since [the ghouls'] bodies would have regressed back to their true ages…”
“Power blasted out from her [Marie's] frame as her temper slipped. Bones didn’t react, but he felt like the air had just become littered with invisible razors slicing into his skin.”
“Despite her [Marie's] anger electrifying the air…”
“Marie tapped the knife against her leg. Bones glanced at it and then back to her dark eyes. If you want my head, I won’t kneel for you to take it, he thought coolly. You’re not my sire and I didn’t betray you, so you’ll have to fight for it.”
“Do you think I need this [knife] to kill you? Do you think I need any weapon at all?”
“The air around her changed. It thickened with power, becoming icy, despairing, and angry. A faint keening noise seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere at once.”
“‘You know what happens when a voodoo queen becomes undead?’ Marie asked. Her voice echoed, like multiple people were somehow speaking through her vocal cords. ‘My ties to the otherworld were strengthened. Those consigned to the grave filled me with their power. Listen to them roar.’”
“Marie opened her mouth and there was a roar, rage-filled and eerie enough to make Bones shiver. Dark swirls appeared around her, as if her shadow and multiplied. Those swirls moved to curl around Bones, stroking him with freezing, malevolent, hungry hands. His strength seemed to melt out of him with their touch while the memory of his death, so long ago, flashed in his mind. He felt the same way he did then; cold, weak, succumbing to that inevitable slide into nothingness. Then the power around Marie faded. That unearthly keening stopped, the shadows curled back into her, and in a rush, the strength returned to Bones’ body.”
Chapter 12, Bones gave Stephanie’s body to Ted to dispose of via a ghoul. “Dinner for whichever ghoul you feel like rewarding, but make sure they clean their plate. I don’t want any part of her resurfacing,” Bones replied.
[Hmmm...I wonder if ghouls eat bones as well?]
Chapter 18, “This next part wasn’t in any Bible you read,” he went on, casting me those sideways glances. “The ‘mark’ was his [Cain's] transformation into becoming undead. For his punishment in spilling blood, he was forced to drink it for the rest of his days. Cain later regretted killing his brother and he created his own people, his own society that existed on the fringe of the one he’d been expelled from. The children he ‘reproduced’ were vampires, and they made others of their kind, and so on. Of course, if you ask a ghoul, they have a different version. They say Cain was turned into a ghoul, not a vampire. Been a cause of bickering ever since about who was first, but Cain isn’t around to settle that.”
[Could be interesting and come up later in the story.]
Chapter 27, Cat refers to Rodney as a “domesticated ghoul.” [Is that her impression based off ignorance or are there undomesticated ghouls?]
Chapter 1, Ian’s doorman was a ghoul. She mentions being able to feel the power coming off him. He was the one she later killed by cutting his head off, greatly ticking off Ian.
Chapter 3, Cat mentions getting her hair cut and colored brown. Trying not to give either vampires or ghouls a heads-up as to who she is. Apparently, the ghoul population knew about her reputation even then.
Chapter 9, Cat mentions that both vampires and ghouls gave off a different vibe when they were hunting to kill.
Chapter 14, Cat says to Bones that vampires and ghouls came after her all the time.
Chapter 35, Cat mentions when she arrives at Ian’s shin-dig that there was a “gauntlet of vampires and ghouls lining the hall we strode through.”
Chapter 36, Cat fights Grendel, a famous mercenary of the ghouls. He was almost six hundred years old and a former stradioti of the Venetian armies. “Grendel used to be paid according to the number of heads he lopped off in battle, and that, my dear poppet, was just when he was human.” Cat said he was fast! Apparently they have a groin as that is where Cat bit him much to his pain. Also his skin did shrivel after he was killed.
Chapter 38, Bones explains about ghouls, “Vampires and ghouls are sister races, as I’ve told you…Making a ghoul isn’t that dissimilar. You first mortally wound a human, then have him drink vampire blood, but not enough for him to live. After he dies, a ghoul takes the human’s heart and switches it with his own. Ghouls can survive having their heart ripped out, which is why the only way to kill them is decapitation. After the hearts are switched, you pour vampire blood over the transplanted heart. It activates it, for lack of a better term, and then you have the birth of a new ghoul.”
Re: Dave, Bones said, “He’d still be your friend, with all his memories and personality traits except one: what he eats. Now, ghouls mainly eat just raw meat, but every so often, they have to vary their diet, and you know what I am talking about.”
Re: Don asking if the change had to be done then, Bones nodded. “Normally rejuvenation is done at the time of death, for obvious reasons. Each day he lingers in the ground, the chance of rousing him diminishes. As it stands, it will take a great deal of power to accomplish it.” Rodney offers to sire him (familiar term).
Re: Don asking about Rodney leaving town and who would take care of Dave, Bones waved away the concern. “Not necessary. I could handle him. Vampires have been foster parents to ghouls for millennia and vice versa. As I said, sister races. After a few weeks of adjustment, you could get him back better than new, as it were.”
Bones later says, “Being a ghoul wouldn’t change him as a person; it would only change his abilities. He would be stronger, faster, and with new senses, but still be the same man.”
Chapter 39, Cat tells Dave, “These two brought you back, but there is a price. Your humanity died with you, and nothing can change that.”
When Dave tried to cut himself, he bled a little and then instantly healed.
Chapter 1, Dave was the only one on the team strong enough to hold the wriggling vamp.
Cat mentions that vampires and ghouls got pretty desperate when they were cornered.
Chapter 9, Cat mentions that Mencheres kept a vampire and ghoul staff. We also learn that Bones had had a hand in siring more than 100 ghouls. which were also attributed to his line.
Chapter 11, both vampires and ghouls took Mencheres’ and Bones’ side in the war with Patra (about 10) and both vampires and ghouls were listed in the killed.
Chapter 1, “Most vampires and ghouls didn’t kill when they fed…” wow, ick. Ghouls must be able to heal as well?
Chapter 2, Cat mentions that Gregor’s dream snatching did not work on vampires or ghouls because they “had a supernatural mind control the prevented such subconscious kidnappings.”
Chapter 3, Ghouls attacked Cat & Bones. Immediately there after, a connection is made between the ghouls and Gregor.
Chapter 5, we learn that Marie Laveau (Majestic) is one of the most powerful ghouls in the nation. Liza is a ghoul and she had heard of Gregor’s rumored claims.
Chapter 6, neither vampires or ghouls will give ghosts the time of day. Fabian mentioned the recent out-of-town ghouls in New Orleans. Mentioned also that Gregor’s name kept popping up along with a threat to the ghoul species.
Chapter 7, Jacques (Majestic’s escort and lover) was a ghoul. Marie asks Cat if she intends on turning into a ghoul, “I’ve heard it’s because you want to combine your half-breed abilities with a ghoul’s power, making yourself the first ghoul vampire hybrid.” She explained, “A vampire can’t turn into a ghoul. Only a human can. So no one but you, as a half-breed, could combine all the strength of a vampire with none of their aversion to silver. You might have unlimited power.”
Chapter 8, Liza was driving because ghouls weren’t as susceptible to morning tiredness as vampires were.
Chapter 9, Bones meets with a ghoul contact.
Chapter 12, the ghouls attack at dawn. Ian asks, “Why does every ghoul feel the need to attack at dawn?” Also, all the TVs in the house turned on. Over 100 ghouls attacked the house due to the rumors Gregor circulated. A ghoul spokesman fired a flare.
Chapter 16, Vlad says that Gregor “needs his ghouls back.”
Chapter 18, “Gregor had been feeding the rumors that without his intervention, I might change myself into a vampire/ghoul hybrid. That’s how he’d garnered the two-hundred-plus ghoul army he’d amassed to attack in Bavaria. Gregor had promised the ghouls that once he had me into a vampire.”
“Adding to these ghoul/vampire hybrid fears were my high jumps in Paris. Who’d have thought that would have been responsible for so much added paranoia? But since flying was a skill only Master vampires possessed, the fact that I had come close to demonstrating it, even briefly, had people wondering what other powers I could be hiding. It fueled the fears about what would happen if ghoul attributes were added to my repertoire. Would I be invincible? Unkillable?”
Chapter 22, regards Marie, “He [Gregor] made her. ‘Twas his blood that raised her as a ghoul, and Gregor killed Marie’s only other sire that night he changed her, so her fealty was only to him. Gregor agreed to release Marie in exchange, and Marie’s wanted free of Gregor for over a hundred years.”
Chapter 24, “Yes it’s the ghouls. Their rhetoric is growing bolder. In certain areas, Masterless vampires have begun to disappear.
Chapter 29, “There are still ghouls who consider you a threat to their species,” Bones replied. “One in particular, Apollyon, has made the most noise about you. Showing him and the others that you’re a vampire will get rid of that problem. It will also garner goodwill toward us with the other vampires in the community, which we’ll need when Gregor has his unfortunate, gruesome demise.”
“This was the ghoul who’d been spreading the most rumors about me? Malcolme Untare, or Apollyon, as he’d named himself, was my height if I was in bare feet. He had black hair anybody could see was dyed, and even had one large piece wrapped around his head in that way some men did to fool no one into believing they were bald.” Shakes his hand. “Apollyon let go like touching me had been distasteful. He had flat blue eyes and those smooth baby cheeks seemed at odds with his persona. Somehow I thought he should be covered in warts because he reminded me of a mean, squat toad.”
“You are just as I expected you to be,” he said with a scornful twist of his lips. I straightened to my full height. In heels, I had two inches on him. A prick like Apollyon would hate to be looked down on by a woman. “Let me return the compliment.” Apollyon had tried to incite people to kill me and other vampires, all based on lies and paranoia. Damned if I was going to kiss his ass and say it tasted like candy. Apollyon moved past me reeking with anger…
Chapter 30, “How ironic that we’d had the coming-out party to try and soothe any ghoul concerns. Now the repercussions from last night might give Apollyon more fuel for his paranoid fire. I could only hope that Mencheres and Bones had managed to calm things down, and that my being a weird vampire was less threatening to ghouls than being a half-breed.
Chapter 31, “As for how Apollyon and his ghouls would deal with my unprecedented vampiric heartbeat…time would tell.”
Chapter 1, “Such stupidity wasn’t only blatant disregard for vampire and ghoul law; it also endangered the secrecy of both their races.” Apparently, ghouls have their own laws and operate under the same cloak of secrecy.
Chapter 3, “They belong to another race known as ghouls, or flesh-eaters.” Ghouls are also referred to as “flesh-eaters.”
Chapter 10, “Speaking of preparing for any eventuality, we might have a problem with some ghouls. I’ve heard reports that Masterless vampires have gone missing in recent weeks, with ghoul gangs as the primary suspects.”…”Could be nothing more than a few sods needing to be taught a lesson,” Bones went on. “But it also could be Apollyon stirring things up with more of his rot about my wife’s being a threat to the ghoul nation. I’ll be checking into it.” (Could be a hint of the plot in TSOTG)
“Then, more ghouls started showing in the area,” Scratch went on.
I tensed. This was why Bones and I had left our Blue Ridge home after we’d barely unpacked to come to Ohio.
“Hey, it’s an undead playground here,” Scratch continued, oblivious to my discomfort. “Lots of lye lines and fun vibrations, so we didn’t think anything about all the flesh-eaters showing up. But some of ‘em act real nasty to vampires. Harassing the Masterless ones, following them home, starting fights…it got us thinking maybe they were behind the disappearances. ”
“Do you have any proof that ghouls might be involved in your friends’ disappearances?” I asked Scratch, getting back to the subject.
“No. Just seems more than coincidence that whenever one of them went missing, they were last seen at a place where some of those a**hole ghouls were.”
Chapter 2, “No self-respecting undead hit man would take a contract on a human,” Bones said dismissively. “Humans are too easy. Like getting paid to stomp on a goldfish. But in your case, probably a human hit man who knows about the undead got frustrated that his last two attempts didn’t work, and gave some quid to a young ghoul to finish you. It’s a practical solution; the ghoul gets money and a meal, the hitter still keeps the bulk of the contract payment, and the client’s happy that you’re dead.”
Chapter 5, “The ghoul could dance like nobody’s business, too.”
Chapter 6, “Vampires and ghouls were notoriously disrespectful of ghosts.”
From Jeaniene’s guest blog post on Borders
Before you get a mental image of something out of Night of the Living Dead, let me elaborate. Just as my vampires look human to the untrained eye, my ghouls also would pass the visual Homo Sapien test. After all, appearance-wise, if I have vampires that blended into to the human crowd, it made sense to me that ghouls would, too. But my vampires and ghouls aren’t exactly alike, and their differences consist of more than a variance in diet (my vampires drink blood to maintain their strength, while ghouls derive their nourishment from raw meat and the occasional consumption of the other, other white meat .
I liked having a way for the two species to be similar in overall power, but have their differences act as a sort of checks and balance system. For instance, ghouls are harder to kill with their immunity to silver, but Master vampires in my books can fly and ghouls never gain that ability. New vampires are susceptible to falling into an unconscious sleep at dawn, but ghouls have no weakness to sunrise no matter how newly created they are. Vampires can make others vampires on their own, but ghouls can’t create more of their species without vampire assistance, specifically in the form of vamp blood. Without some balance between their strengths and weaknesses, it seemed inevitable that one paranormal species would dominate the other, and that wasn’t the route I wanted to go.
Read the complete post here.