Author: J. F. Lewis
Paperback: 384 pages
UNREPENTANT. UNIMPRESSED. AND TOTALLY UNDEAD.
Eric's got issues. He has short-term and long-term memory problems; he can't remember who he ate for dinner yesterday, much less how he became a vampire in the first place. His best friend, Roger, is souring on the strip club he and Eric own together. And his girlfriend, Tabitha, keeps pressuring him to turn her so she can join him in undeath. It's almost enough to put a Vlad off his appetite. Almost. Eric tries to solve one problem, only to create another - he turns Tabitha into a vampire, but finds that once he does, his desire for her fades -- and her younger sister, Rachel, sure is cute. And when he kills a werewolf in self-defense, things really get out of hand. Now a pack of born-again lycanthropes is out for holy retribution, while Tabitha and Rachel have their own agendas -- which may or may not include helping Eric stay in one piece. All Eric wants to do is run his strip club, drink a little blood, and be left alone. Instead, he must survive car crashes, enchanted bullets, sunlight, sex magic, and werewolves on ice -- not to mention his own nasty temper and forgetfulness. Because being undead isn't easy, but it sure beats the alternative.
Author J.F. Lewis sure knows how to hook a reader from the start. Thanks to the recent spate of supernatural stories, I was kind of saturated with vampire fiction and not really in the mood for yet another. But since I’m chronically unable to leave a book unread, I opened this one and I’m glad I did for the very first line had me captivated - “Somewhere in the middle of my rant it occurred to me that I’d killed whoever it was I’d been yelling at, so arguing was no longer important”. It the dual effect of making me smile and wonder what, when, who, where and why – in short, the divine five. And this promising beginning only leads to bigger, better and hairier things (pun intended) even if there was a tad bit more gore than I expected. About the gore - I’m not going to say it was forced; rather it fell so into the scheme of things that it felt natural and frankly, very believable.
Generally authors of vampire stories take some pre-conceptions (sun, garlic, holy water etc) and then put their stamp on it making it their own. Lewis takes this to a whole new level. The aptly named Void City is home to our heroic anti-hero Eric and here the humans live in a void intentionally made unaware of vamps and other supernaturals sharing their life with them. Through Eric’s eyes or rather his disdain readers are made aware of the class distinctions among the Vamps themselves, both wealth and power-wise. I was really intrigued to read how Lewis had conceptualized the power hierarchy (drones, thralls, masters, etc) which is almost medieval in nature. And instead of just making it a bald statement of fact, Lewis puts it into action and makes the distinction come alive through various characters and their actions (or non-action).
There are ton of characters in this novel and most of them play significant roles even if short-lived. However none of them can hold a candle to central character, Eric, the arrogant strip-club running, prone to blackout-inducing killing rage, top-tier vampire. Most of the above-mentioned gore is thanks to his actions and he’s not the least remorseful about it. Well, actually, sometimes he is, but it doesn’t last long. This should have made the readers hate him. Instead Lewis cleverly capitalizes on it to make them sympathize with him. You see, Eric is so matter of fact about it all and, at the same time, so tired of it that it’s hard not to. His history is a mystery as are his powers and his feelings.
The author reveals things about Eric a bit at a time, maintaining the taut suspense. So it is with other major characters as well. Tabitha, the human lover who begs and wheedles Eric into making her a vampire, is another complex character. She’s so new that her powers are yet to be determined. But what’s clear is that alive or dead, she’s more than a match for Eric. He generally loses interest after a girl goes vamp on him. But with Tabitha refusing to take ‘no’ for an answer and her back-from-the-dead sister also wanting in … well, it promises to be an explosive relationship for sure.
Different chapters are told from the perspectives of primary characters. Again, I’m not a fan of this system. But after reading the book completely, I realized how adroitly Lewis had used this technique to further build up his characters and their fictional world and yet keep the readers in dark about so many things since things are shown only from a single perspective, a sort of literary tunnel vision, so to say.
The story is full of contrasts – sometimes characters behave as you’re led to believe they will, sometimes they don’t. It’s the same with inter-character relationships and animosities. Even the ending is like that. More than anything else, it kept the story fresh and interesting to me. Most importantly - and for a serious, action-packed vampire/werewolf story this is saying something - it made me Laugh as few others ever have. Just consider this particular Eric statement. In an extremely tension-filled situation when he’s being attacked on all sides by werewolves wielding crosses and holy water, Eric says this when two werewolves bite him - “Don’t fucking bite me”, I snarled furiously. “I’m the vampire! I bite you. You do not get to fucking bite me!” It made me howl with laughter when I first read it. And it wasn’t the only time. Lewis is par master at diffusing intense situations with an aptly placed dollop of humor.
This is one of the Best vampire stories I’ve read in quite a while. It’s serious yet funny, gory yet tender, magical and still down-to-earth; a proper study in contrasts, if you will. In other words, a must-read!
Without concrete information and with the way things ended, I can say with reasonable certainty that a series in the making and I for now, am really looking forward to reading yet another pulse-pounding Eric story.
And now for the GIVEAWAY!!! Lol, yes I know that's what you've been waiting for.
Here are the rules -
Open to Bloggers and non-bloggers.
US only please. (I'm really sorry, international readers!).
This giveaway has a deadline of : 5 am, CST, May 6.
Winners - There will 5 lucky winners.
4 copies of this book
A VERY special book thong, created especially for this book giveaway by Lisa Ferry, artist extraordinaire and owner of the Etsy store, Ferry Tales!! Not only does she create magic with her fingers, but she also makes uniquely customized items for her buyers. I got a book thong with Swarovski crystals and my birthstones. And the book thong pictured here was made by Lisa particularly for this vampire book giveaway. It has a vial of Blood Red Vampire Fairy Dust dangling at the end which is accented with red and clear glass beads and moon and star silver metal charms. It hangs on the outside of the book approx: 7 ¼ ” long and the metalwork that is placed inside the book measures approx: 5” long.
You can read more about Lisa as well as enter to win more of her unique handcrafted goodies on my other blog, A Bookworm's Diary.
I'm also having multiple giveaways in honor of Earth Day, over at A Bookworm's Diary. Do drop by for a visit - you'll love it, I promise :)
And now, getting back on track for this giveaway -
a) Blog about this giveaway and include the direct link to the contest post in your comment. You MUST include your contact email address in the comment as well. Put it in the format : abc at xyz dot com, to elude spammers.
After you've done the above, get Extra Entries by -
b) Put my blog button (you'll find it on my sidebar with the code for you to copy and paste underneath) on your blog's sidebar. And say that you've done so in your comment. Upon verification, you'll get a second entry into the giveaway.
c) Subscribe to my blog via email (you'll find the form(s) on my sidebars) and include that in your comment mentioning the email address you used to subscribe.
d) Put me on your blogroll (*meaning - your list of favorite websites usually located on your blog's sidebar*) and mention that in your comment.
Use your own text or you can use this :
Non-Stop FREE BOOKS @ A Book Blogger's Diary!!
Enter for a chance to win 4 copies of STAKED and a very special prize, unique to this book! In all, there will be 5 lucky winners. Ends 5 am CST, May 6.
And after you enter this giveaway, check out the rest of the blog to enter giveaways galore which this book blogger has gathered from around the web! Not to mention the giveaways this blog is now holding regularly.
Have fun entering and Good luck!
Non-bloggers : *** edited to add *** meaning, for those who do not have a blog -
a) Subscribe to receive my blog posts via email (you'll find the form(s) on my sidebars). Then send me an email (at the special contest email "winabook at gmail dot com" with "STAKED" in the subject line) saying you've done so and with the email address used to subscribe.
With daily listings of book giveaways, you won't regret it!
After you've done the above, get Extra Entries by -
b) Telling me why readers are unable to hate Eric (you will find it in my review above)
c) Follow me on Twitter (my id is callmeabookworm) and mention that in your email along with your Twitter id.
Please make sure to use the correct email address and subject line.
The lucky winners will receive an email from me requesting your Full Name and Address which I will then pass on to the publisher who'll be sending you your copies directly. (Neither I nor the publisher is responsible for lost or damaged mail/copies)
I'll wait 5 days for your responses. Prizes unclaimed after that will be awarded to alternate winners.
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