Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Gangpire – review

Author: Sentu Taylor

Published: 2014

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: Life has never been a walk in the park for Tacoma. With a crack addict as a mother, and no father, he has been responsible to take care of his little sister Seattle since he was nine, while living in one of East Oakland's most notorious drug and gang infested neighbourhoods. Every day is a struggle; they're forced to steal food, and have to rely on their street wits to survive. Lucky for them, Tacoma's best friend Raider's grandmother, Mama Marcella, shields them from getting detected by Social Services.

Tragedy strikes one fateful day when Tacoma asks Raider to pick Seattle up from school. But Raider forgets, and Seattle never makes it home. Tacoma's world shatters around him, and he vows to wreak violent revenge on those responsible for her disappearance. But they are only teenage boys, and no match to fight Seattle's powerful abductors.

Raider has an idea. With the help of an ancient Santeria book he stole from his grandmother, he turns both of them into vampires.

Their bloody journey to save Seattle takes them deep into the corrupt underworld of the Oakland police force, secret FBI task forces, a beautiful scientist, and death.

As the two unleash their newly acquired powers, things get quickly out of control. Tacoma and Raider turn their friends into vampires to help them fight against powerful enemies, and together they leave a trail of dead bodies along the entire West Coast.

Follow Tacoma on his desperate quest to find his sister, while spiralling deep into the world of an escalating vampire war…

The review: When I settled down to read Gangpire I was, I admit, a tad worried. The title seemed hokey and attempts to tie vampirism and gangsta culture together have not been that successful movie wise. However, as I started to read it my fears lifted. I was carried along by Sentu Taylor’s prose and, whilst you need a sense of disbelief with the story (overly critical thinking may make one question the speed at which our main characters decide becoming vampires would be a good thing or, indeed, master Santeria spells to become invisible), it really is a rip roaring adventure.

Indeed the book has the same wild flare as the Anonymous series (that begins with the Book with No Name) but with a lead character who carries much more in the way of sympathy. The dialogue is full of street language but, for those of us not familiar with such, is perfectly readable. The book kept me reading and entertained, which is (of course) what we all want from a book and moulded into a fine urban fantasy.

Lore sees vampires who are turned when drained to the point of death but not, it seems, killed. The initial vampire is created through a magical ritual, which involves cannibalistically eating his mother’s still beating heart. Body parts regenerate (and body parts separated from the main body vanish) and death comes about through decapitation or heart devouring – though the humans have a technological trick up their sleeves. Magic can be used to go invisible, fly and pass through walls (so longer as the vampire knows the trick). They do not have reflections but are not affected by exposure to sunlight.

All in all this is a great start to the series. 7 out of 10.

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