Friday, October 28, 2016

Vintage Soul (The DeChance Chronicles 2#) review

    One of the things I always had a problem with in the Classic World of Darkness (now just the World of Darkness again according to Onyx Entertainment) is the fact the supernaturals rarely interacted. Vampires generally dealt with vampire affairs, mages dealt with mage affairs, and werewolves dealt with werewolves. The gamelines were usually diverse enough that this was rarely a problem but it still seemed like a disappointing choice on their parts.

  What I like about The Dechance Chronicles is they're an indie series which mixes things up while also keeping the "worlds" separate. Vampires, werewolves, mages, and so on all seem to have their own societies but they do bump into each other from time to time. This keeps things from becoming the blender-mix which exists in most urban fantasy while also feeling more authentic (I hesitate to the use the word realistic in a story about supernaturals).

    Vintage Soul begins with the vampire equivalent of a wine tasting with the beautiful Elder Vanessa kidnapped from under their undead noses. Donovan DeChance is almost immediately robed thereafter by a wizard who seems unable to comprehend he's not impressing our hero. What follows is a peculiar alliance with Donovan is recruited by the vampires to find their missing Elder and bring her back unharmed. The enemy wizard, whose identify remains a secret until the near-end, intends to sacrifice her to gain true immortality and the clock is ticking.

    My favorite moment in the book is undoubtedly Donovan's complete contempt for the enemy and his attempts to playact the Voldemort figure. I really wish we'd gotten more scenes of him dressing him down and how pathetic it is for a real wizard to act like Gannondorf from The Legend of Zelda. Indeed, one of my few complaints about the book is the fact we don't get a more humiliating end for our antagonist. He seems like someone who deserved to be torn down and stomped on.

    The supporting cast is pretty good as well. There's a gang of vampires who refuse to believe Donovan can be as good as he claims and who also embarrass themselves by trying to be more inhuman than they are. Their leader's name is Vein, for example. Amethyst, Donovan's occasional girlfriend, also serves as a expert on the supernatural areas our hero is weak in. We even get a crow named Asmodeus, just for fun.

    I was particularly intrigued by the character of Vanessa and wish she'd gotten more development. Despite being married, I think it'd be interesting for her and Donovan to begin something as while we get to see our hero "on the clock" a lot, we rarely get much insight into his personal life. I don't think that's going to happen because he's portrayed as being in a very committed relationship with his partner-in-crime Amethyst.

    While the quest for immortality is a common motivation for villains in comics and stories but not a particularly sympathetic one, the author treats it with a whimsical and fun style. It's a serious quest to find all the ingredients and stopping him is treated as an existential threat because the ritual will kill the vampire Vanessa.

    The DeChance novels aren't dark novels despite their horror roots and feel a lot like literary Doctor Strange comics. Since so many authors are bending over backward to make the next grim and grittier work. I give David Niall Wilson credit for bucking the trend. These are about a weird and whimsical world which never degenerates to straight comedy either. 

    In conclusion, I recommend this urban fantasy novel for those who like independent works. The main character is enjoyable, dignified, and intelligent. The villain is a good foil for our hero. Finally, the plot is entertaining. You could do a lot worse than the DeChance Chronicles. I do recommend the audiobook over the physical text, though, since the narrator does an excellent job.


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