Monday, February 1, 2010

The Vampire Fred: Wicked Game by Vaughn R. Demont

TITLE: The Vampire Fred: Wicked Game
AUTHOR: Vaughn R. Demont
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 52k)
GENRE: Gay paranormal erotic romance
COST: $5.95

Fred Tompkins has the most mundane life ever. Boring job, still a virgin, nothing interesting whatsoever. Then he dies, a victim in a car accident, and things finally start to get interesting. Now, he’s a vampire, with his sire crashing in his bath tub, an entire demon hierarchy to learn about, and memories that aren’t his filling his head. Oh, and finally losing his virginity. At least that’s a bonus, right?

The initial charm of this novel hits you straight away, with a title that stands up and shouts, “This isn’t your typical vampire book!” I mean, we all know a Fred. The nondescript, hard-working, quiet guy in the corner cubicle who never says boo, always has spare change for the vending machine, and holds the elevator for you, even if he’s running late. That’s not your typical hero, and definitely not your typical vampire. Yet, this is the narrator the reader gets to travel with, and his charming, borderline neurotic geek persona sucks you in from the very first sentence. You feel for this guy because of how highly relatable he is, and if his circumstances are a little out there, all the better. It’s a fantastic counter to the mundanity of his existence, at least for the first half of the story.

The entire book is told in 1st person, present tense, a risky choice, but in this case, it works to a degree. Combined with the relatable narrator, it puts the reader into the moment, adding to the confusion and frustration about what’s going on. It also has the unfortunate side effect of blinkering the reader from a lot of depths in regards to the other characters. With his distinctive worldview, Fred is not always a reliable witness to events, in spite of his special capabilities as a vampire. His perspective on his sire Daniel mutates at the blink of an eye, and because of his conflicting emotions, it’s very difficult to get a good picture of the vamp.

This is where the story starts to fall apart for me. The longer Fred is a vampire, the more he learns about the vampire world he’s been brought into. It’s unlike a lot of worlds that get created, with vampires being reincarnated, different factions having different purposes (like guards to the Queen, etc.), and so on and so on. It’s very confusing, primarily because Fred has absolutely no clue what’s going on. He discovers he’s an Inquisitor – which means he has the ability to absorb memories by drinking blood – but he doesn’t know how to control it, and gets constantly bombarded with facts and trivia that make no sense. It’s probably exactly as it would happen to Fred, but it leaves the reader with a headache trying to sort out. There is a serious lack of information on how everything works – and Daniel’s reticence to explain anything to Fred only derails the situation further – and this quick build-up of questions and “Huh?”s forced me to distance from the story in order to try and figure it out. It doesn’t help that the first time Fred dreams about a past life, with the prose still in 1st person, the voice and circumstances are so different that it jolted completely out of it. Those scenes are never organically incorporated, and any kind of smooth flow is lost.

There’s a tremendous amount of potential in this author’s world. It just needs a better execution in order to best engage me as a reader. I really liked Fred when the story started. I only wish the Fred at the end hadn’t grown into someone unrecognizable. By learning so much from the blood he drinks, he morphs from the no-nothing to SuperVamp. That’s great for character growth, not so much for having fallen for the underdog Fred from the beginning.


7/10 – Awkward scene shifts and lack of information hold back an otherwise engaging voice

Hero #1

7/10 – A refreshing change from the more know-it-all heroes out there, though some of that charm disappears as the story progresses

Hero #2

6/10 – Inconsistent, though not unlikeable

Entertainment value

6/10 – This started out being a lot higher, but as the story grew more complicated and the flow weakened, my enjoyment lessened

World building

7/10 – I love the potential of what this could offer, but not the way in which it was presented; there’s just too many questions and too many awkward transitions for me



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