Tag Archives: vampires

Review of Already Dead (Joe Pitt #1), by Charlie Huston

I borrowed a copy of Already Dead, by Charlie Huston, from the local library.

Description from Goodreads:

Those stories you hear? The ones about things that only come out at night? Things that feed on blood, feed on us? Got news for you: they’re true. Only it’s not like the movies or old man Stoker’s storybook. It’s worse. Especially if you happen to be one of them. Just ask Joe Pitt. 

There’s a shambler on the loose. Some fool who got himself infected with a flesh-eating bacteria is lurching around, trying to munch on folks’ brains. Joe hates shamblers, but he’s still the one who has to deal with them. That’s just the kind of life he has. Except afterlife might be better word.

From the Battery to the Bronx, and from river to river, Manhattan is crawling with Vampyres. Joe is one of them, and he’s not happy about it. Yeah, he gets to be stronger and faster than you, and he’s tough as nails and hard to kill. But spending his nights trying to score a pint of blood to feed the Vyrus that’s eating at him isn’t his idea of a good time. And Joe doesn’t make it any easier on himself. Going his own way, refusing to ally with the Clans that run the undead underside of Manhattan–it ain’t easy. It’s worse once he gets mixed up with the Coalition–the city’s most powerful Clan–and finds himself searching for a poor little rich girl who’s gone missing in Alphabet City.

Now the Coalition and the girl’s high-society parents are breathing down his neck, anarchist Vampyres are pushing him around, and a crazy Vampyre cult is stalking him. No time to complain, though. Got to find that girl and kill that shambler before the whip comes down . . . and before the sun comes up.

Review:

Early on in this novel I thought it was going to be a total fail for me. I wasn’t certain of Joe’s voice to start with, and then the first female character was introduced. She was simply a bar patron, no one he even spoke to. But the way he ogled her, the way he referred to her only in terms of ‘the number,’ ‘the number in the dress,’ etc made me go, “Oh, it’s gonna be one of those books.” I resigned myself to a disappointing read. 

And while I think the representation of women in the book remained problematic, with one large exception, I really did end up liking the book. The exception is that the plot is based around rape. Several years ago, I started noting in reviews when a book includes rape as a plot device. I started doing this because it’s so problematically frequent in books. Since I started, I swear it feels like a full 2/3 of the books I review include it. Are there really so few other options out there to progress a plot? It’s not that I take issue with rape in books in general, I take issue with it being all pervasive and everywhere. So, I note it when I see it. And here, in Already Dead it’s not graphic, but it’s especially heinous, what he’s trying to stop. 

Outside of that, I liked Joe. I liked his smart mouth, his gruff attitude, his buried but real soft side. I liked the gritty representation of New York and the inclusion of quite a lot of diversity. Granted, being a dozen years old, the language in the book is sometime a little cringe-worthy, but time ages all things. All in all, I plan of continuing the series.

Review of Drawing Dead (Dana McIntyre Must Die #1), by S.M. Reine

I picked up a freebie copy of Drawing Dead, by SM Reine from Amazon.

Description:

The vampire slayer is turning into a vampire? Over her dead body. 

Dana McIntyre has been bitten by a master vampire. She’s infected with the venom. And after killing hundreds of vampires to keep Las Vegas safe, she’d rather die than turn. 

There might be a cure. But the only way to get it is through Nissa Royal, a vampire with close ties to the masters of Las Vegas. Nissa is dangerous — too dangerous to be allowed to live, much less work alongside. 

But if Dana dies, vampires win Vegas. If she doesn’t die, she becomes one of the bloodless. The cure’s her only chance. In this deadly game of hold ’em, Dana’s drawing dead, and whatever happens next, there’s no changing her losing hand. Dana only knows one thing: If she’s going down, she’s taking as many vampires as possible on her way out… 

Review:

I was pretty disappointed in this book. But largely because I went in with really high hopes. I bought it because the heroine is a fat, butch lesbian and how often do they get to be the heroes in a story…an action hero no less? It wasn’t the diversity aspect of the story that let me down though. Dana is just as the cover suggests (and YES she even got to be fat and butch on the cover!). She’s married to a butch-ish woman. So, Reine didn’t even play into the ‘one of them has to be femme’ trap. I love that. The police chief is a ball-busting trans woman, and it’s engaged in the book, not just dropped in as a token. And not all the other characters are straight, white, cis, etc. So, I’m not disappointed to have bought a book that includes a lot of things I wish more books incorporated (Positively represented fat women on book covers? Hell yes, more!).

Unfortunately, what let me down was that Dana is so darned unlikeable. She’s rude and vile and dismissive of people who care for her. I don’t mean that as any sort of ‘proper women don’t act that way.’ Heck yes, give me more cursing, belching, sarcastic women. I mean it in the sense that she’s almost cruel to a wife that loves her, prioritizing her own wishes over heartfelt pleas. She snarks off to people who are actively trying to help her, as if they are being unreasonable, etc. 

What’s more, Dana is basically suicidal for a large part of this book, which means she runs head-long into battles with so little regard for her own life that it felt too much like a miracle that she continued to survive. Heroes/heroines that are so perfect in battle that they never even consider fear is are flat and uninteresting, IMO. 

All in all, Reine’s writing is fine. And despite there being 40 books in this universe (as of the publication of Drawing Dead, the book is readable as a standalone. But I wouldn’t go so far as to claim you don’t feel the lack of those other books. There were several decisions important in this book that are made based on the events of other books, and you notice.

Review of House of the Rising Sun (Crescent City #1), by Kristen Painter

I borrowed an audio copy of Kristen Painter’s House of the Rising Sun through Hoopla.

Description from Goodreads:

Augustine lives the perfect life in the Haven city of New Orleans. He rarely works a real job, spends most of his nights with a different human woman, and resides in a spectacular Garden District mansion paid for by retired movie star Olivia Goodwin, who has come to think of him as an adopted son, providing him room and board and whatever else he needs. 

But when Augustine returns home to find Olivia’s been attacked by vampires, he knows his idyllic life has comes to an end. It’s time for revenge—and to take up the mantle of the city’s Guardian.

Review:

Gah, this was not good. One Goodreads reviewer called it lazy and another called it facile and boring. Both are accurate descriptions of the book and describe my opinion perfectly. The author has some interesting ideas, but just drops them all in willy-nilly, with no attempt to situate them in any sort of world building. 

Both “main” characters are just cardboard cutouts of PNR heros/heroines. He’s protective and she needs protecting. There isn’t really anything more to either of them. But Harlow is especially poorly sketched out. Augustine at least goes out and does things. Harlow just basically sits home and frets, waiting for someone else to solve her problems. Want to know how important she is to the story? She’s not even mentioned in the book’s description, despite her sexy image being used to grab readers attention. (And it should be added that the actual character lives in baggy sweatshirts to cover her physique. So the image really is just to sex the cover up.)

There is a semblance of plot. It has to be Augustine who protects the city, because reasons. Harlow hasn’t much spoken to her mother for decades, because reasons. She has to come home now, because reasons. Olivia has never told Harlow who her father is (despite it destroying their relationship), because reason. Olivia took Augustine in, because reasons. BUT NONE OF IT REALLY HOLDS UP TO THE LIGHT. And frankly a lot of it isn’t even believable. 

Lastly, the timeline is hinky. Ages aren’t ever stated, but they can be approximated with the information provided, and Olivia seems far too old to be Harlow’s mother. And all of Harlow’s childhood is basically glossed over with “sent to boarding school.” Despite this, there seems to be several missing years in there. And if 20+ years pass, am I to believe Olivia never mentioned essentially adopting a son? Again, it’s all a product of lazy writing. 

All in all, I’m very glad to be finished with this. By the end, Harlow’s intense unlikeable-ness was becoming too much to bear. Painter apparently couldn’t even put in enough effort on her behalf to make her palatable. The narration, done by Elijah Alexander was fine. But again, choosing a male narrator for a book with a female main character on the cover, should tell you who the focus of the book is really on. (I actually wouldn’t call Harlow a main character at all.)

Edit: As an amusing side note, there is a character named Zarah in this book. She’s referenced, but never makes an appearance. This is noteworthy because just the other day I wrote a Goodreads review in which I said how rarely I see this name in books. Now, I’ve come across TWO IN A ROW. What’s the likelihood? I’ll cross-post the review to the blog when I finish the boxset and post all the reviews together. But at least I got a chuckle out of it.