Title: Vamp Camp (Vamp Camp Chronicles #1)
Author: Wynn Wagner
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: M/M historical (1920s) paranormal romance
Length: 239 pages
Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
A guest review by Jenre
Quite an entertaining story with a different spin on the usual tales of vampires in love that suffers from an overly irritating narrator and a complete disregard for historical accuracy.
Did Mårten Larsson want to be a vamp? Not so much. He wanted it as much as he asked to have a sissy circle over the å in his name. He just woke up dead one day with a piece of paper that said, “Dude, you’re a vampire. Drink some blood. Don’t suntan.”
Luckily, another vampire finds Mårten and agrees to teach him how to live (well, not live, exactly) as a vampire. And so Mårten goes to Vamp Camp, where he has to survive without getting staked or baked, learn how to work with fangs and blood lust while spending time with his boyfriend, and employ his wicked wit as he masters the art and science of vampirism.
Vamp Camp Chronicles
I picked up this book because it sounded like a fun read, and in some senses it was. It certainly didn’t take itself too seriously, and maybe that was its downfall for me.
The story begins with our first person narrator, Mårten, introducing himself to the reader. Mårten sounds like a modern teenager with a sarcastic attitude and a ‘whatever’ tone of voice. I have to admit that after 10 pages of this, Mårten was seriously starting to grate on my nerves, especially in the smarmy, self referential way he spoke to the reader. I think he was supposed to be witty and amusing, but I found him annoying – possibly because he reminded me of a guy I used to know who constantly made, what he considered, funny remarks but no-one else found him to be so. After 20 pages, I began to despair about the length of the book and wondered whether I would be able to finish reading a book with a narrator I just couldn’t connect with.
Fortunately, the book moves from a sort of potted history of Mårten into the main part of the story where Mårten is turned into a vampire. With the introduction of other characters into the book, Mårten stopped being so annoying as the focus shifted into the story of how he copes with his new life as a vampire. After this point I settled into the book and began to like Mårten more as a character. The only annoyance after that point was the modern way that Mårten speaks when the book is supposed to be set in the 1920s. I know that Mårten is telling the reader the story at some point in the future, but some of the modern references and speech jarred against the setting and didn’t allow me to settle into the historical setting in the way I would have liked. I advise all historical purists not to read this book, unless they want to suffer an apoplexy!
So that’s all the negative things about this book, what about the positives? Well, once we get into the story of Mårten and his quest to learn about being a vampire from his mentor Menz, I found myself greatly enjoying some of the things that happen to Mårten. By the way, this isn’t a ‘vamp camp’ as such, more one old vamp in a mansion mentoring and teaching Mårten how to get along in his new vamp state. I liked Menz a great deal, especially the way he was strict but patient with Mårten. I also liked his subtle sense of humour, which contrasted with the brash humour of Mårten, and the slightly malicious pleasure he got from some of Mårten’s failures. The character of Tavin, the faithful servant of Menz, was also well done and reminded me a little of Jeeves.
The book is a bit of a sex romp with a number of sex scenes involving Mårten, some of which I’m positive were not anatomically possible, but that didn’t really matter as all the men were performing very enthusiastically. The main romance between Mårten and Oberon was sweet, but that was counterbalanced by some of the more dramatic events towards the end of the book, and so worked within the context of the story.
So overall, I did like quite a lot of this book, and had I connected better with Mårten I would have liked it a great deal more. As with many first person narratives, especially in comedic novels, the personality of the narrator is very important to how well the reader likes the book, and if you are the sort of reader who shares Mårten’s sense of humour then this book will be a great read for you. I found him too brash and didn’t really like the obvious humour in the way he speaks so he didn’t work that well for me. Still, this was an unusual take on the vampire story, with a good mix of sex, reflective moments and action so if you like vampire books and you’re willing to take a chance on Mårten then I suggest you give Vamp Camp a go.