Friday, September 7, 2018

Staked by J.F. Lewis (Void City #1) review


    Vampire novels are incredibly overdone but that's a bit like saying superheroes, Westerns, and police procedurals are incredibly overdone. Yes, there's a deluge of them but there's always some new diamonds to be found in the rough. The simple fact is they are a never-ending source of fascination and that's not just because I wrote STRAIGHT OUTTA FANGTON. No, sir. That's not an influence at all. Ahem.

    STAKED by J.F. Lewis is a vampire novel which I'll probably rank among the better examples of the genre. I think it's because the author managed the careful balance between the fact Eric is both simultaneously completely unlikable as well as being thoroughly fascinating. His repellent qualities are part of why you want to read more about him as they make him unpredictable. It's also a book which nestles nicely in the R but not X-rated demographic of writing for adults. There's sex, violence, horror, and humor throughout.

    The premise is Eric, our vampire co-protagonist, is the owner of a strip club in the supernatural-filled Void City. Eric is evil, there's no doubt about that, but he's evil in a reluctant manner. At one point, driven by hunger, he kills an innocent woman in an alleyway then goes about his evening--upset mostly about his lack of control than a human life being ended. He has serious anger issues and kills those who provoke him as well. He's also a terrible boyfriend who freely feeds from his employees who desperately want to become vampires themselves.

    The co-protagonist and future vampire herself, Tabitha, is a vampire wannabe and stripper. Deeply in love with Eric because of the fact he's undead and her boss (because his personality sucks--no pun intended), she begs him to turn her. Tired of her begging, Eric agrees and turns her. He knows this will destroy their relationship as he has no attraction to his fellow undead. Indeed, he immediately sets his sights on her still-living sister.

    If the book was entirely from Eric's POV, it probably wouldn't be nearly as entertaining, but the narration frequently switches over to Tabitha. Tabitha gets an arc from being a somewhat naive and besotted woman who Eric disrespects to a powerful vampire in her own right. While not the sharpest set of fangs in the city, she learns a great deal in a short amount of time which increases both her observational skills as well as her confidence. She also maintains a conscience, unlike Eric.

    The main plot for the majority of the book is Eric's feud with a pack of religious werewolves. I wasn't a big fan of this because, well, Eric is a scumbag so I was hoping the wolves would put him down. He doesn't even know if he's guilty or not of what they're accusing him of since he has rage blackouts on a regular basis. Still, that's more than made up by the evolving relationship between Tabith, Eric, and their acquaintances at the strip club.

    Despite Eric's dark side and his horrible treatment of Tabitha, he's never not engaging to read about. His clear dissatisfaction with being a vampire while not being remorseful about all the people he's killed is an interesting contrast to more reluctant monsters. Vampirism is awful because it prevents him from lasting relationships and being with the woman (now an old woman) he loves rather than the hundreds of people he's killed. He also has a string of failed relationships (mostly turned into monsters themselves) that highlight his selfishness but also his pain.

    Good book and I picked up the sequels immediately after finishing.

9/10

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