Title: The Vampire Fred: Wicked Game
Author: Vaughn R. Demont
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: M/M Contemporary Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Length: 124 pages
Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
A Guest Review by Jenre
Being a vampire sucks, especially when you’ve got to deal with things like a dead-end job as an office drone, avoiding vigilante vampire slayers on the subway, and being price-gouged on blood from the slaughterhouse. Add in a crush on your annoyingly charismatic sire, and unraveling a little conspiracy to upset the balance of power among the vampires of the City, and it’s all in a night’s work though for fledgling vampire Fred Tompkins, as long as he doesn’t miss out on any overtime.
Ah, the power of a great blurb. I read the blurb to The Vampire Fred: Wicked Game and thought ‘How unusual, a comedy vampire book, It sounds really funny’, so of course I snapped it up hoping for something light and amusing. Did the book live up to the blurb? Read on to see!
I have to admit that the first part of the book wholly lived up to the promise of that blurb. At the beginning we meet Fred, who had the misfortune to be killed by a speeding car. The person driving the car was Daniel, a vampire, newly awoken from an 80 odd year sleep. As he tells Fred:
“The last car I drove could go twenty-five miles in an hour.” Spoken with true awe. “How was I supposed to know automobiles could go so quickly now?”
Filled with remorse for his actions Daniel makes Fred into a vampire and then proceeds to sponge off him as Fred copes with having to change his job to the night shift, negotiate the price of cow’s blood at the slaughterhouse and come to terms with his undead state. Fred is also coming to terms with the fact that he might also have a teeny crush on his ‘sire’.
I shake my head quickly. I’m not crushing on him or anything. Of course not. He’s an irritant. An annoyance. He killed me and he won’t leave my apartment. I’m not falling for the guy. At all.
As Fred is our first person narrator his personality dominates the book – in a good way. I found Fred to be very likable. He has a wry self depreciating sense of humour that made me quickly warm to him and his situation. He struggles throughout the book with his shy, non-confrontational personality and I liked how, as he becomes more comfortable with what had happened to him, he begins to gain confidence in himself. The witty asides he makes to the reader had me laughing out loud on several occasions throughout the first part of the book.
Daniel was very endearing. He has an irascible sense of humour which hides a caring heart. He has a dubious background and ambivalent morals but has the decency to feel guilt and remorse when he does wrong. he genuinely felt that he was doing Fred a favour when he turned him and can’t quite understand why Fred is so cross with him at the beginning. His relentless cheerfulness and kindness to Fred wrong-foots Fred on a number of occasions and I just found it a shame that Daniel’s personality and influence on Fred fades into the background later in the book in favour of other characters.
If the book had ended half way then this would have gained a much higher grade than it has. That first half concentrated on the growing relationship between Fred and Daniel and Fred’s adjustment to vampire life. Once the pair begin to make their tentative way towards love, then the focus of the story shifts wider and begins to encompass the general world of the vampires. It seems that there are several kinds of vampires, all of whom serve a different leader. Fred now belongs to the ‘Guards’ who are loyal to the Queen. The Queen has been dead for centuries but, as this loyalty is passed down through generations of vampires by the blood of the sires, they still continue to defend her against other types of vampires. Despite Daniel’s best efforts, Fred gets dragged into this fight and finds that even his ‘dreams’ are proving dangerous as some of the past guard vampires invade his sleep and try to take over his body. This leads to a struggle for Fred to stop a past vampire taking over his body so that the past vampire can resume a relationship with the head Guard vampire and possibly kill Daniel in the process. Meanwhile other vampires in Fred’s dreams are either helping or hindering him. Confused? I was. As the book drew to a close, events became more and more confusing as even more odd details and facts were added to the world building. I finished the book thoroughly flummoxed as to what had happened. Perhaps this was just me and I was unable to ‘get it’ for some reason.
The world building wasn’t the only thing which deteriorated during the second half. The light, amusing tone which characterised the first half was replaced by something much darker. I understood that it was probably necessary to change the tone slightly as Fred is pulled further into danger, but it jarred with the first half and left me feeling rather disappointed that the humour had been replaced by serious themes.
So did The Vampire Fred: Wicked Game live up to its blurb? Well it began well: It was witty, amusing, light-hearted and enjoyable. It’s just such as shame that the promising beginning didn’t carry through to the end of the book. It looks like there is to be a sequel at some point, which I’ll be quite happy to try. Until then I’d recommend The Vampire Fred: Wicked Game to those who are looking for a humourous story and are perhaps better than me at following slightly confusing world-building!