Saturday, December 13, 2014

Gangpire 2 – review

Author: Sentu Taylor

First published: 2014

Contains spoilers

The blurb: Oakland streets are rampant with small time players trying to make a name for themselves. Tacoma has seen it all. Two years after the streets of Oakland were turned upside down after he became a vampire, he has evolved into a street legend. Now, as his life continues to change, Tacoma has new battles to face. With an impending wedding and baby on the way, he must travel across the globe and forge a plan to explain to Helen’s parents how he tainted his future bride by turning her into a vampire.

That feat is minor compared to Elleguás challenge he must meet to bring his murdered sister back to life. Tacoma will be send back in time to defeat a younger Caesar in prehistoric Ethiopia and in return Elleguá promises to release Seattle from his crossroad. If he fails, he, Helen, and Mama Marcella will never be able to return to their current time frame.

Tribal hunters, were-hyenas, evil vampire lords, and the constant need to feed their newborn vampire baby fresh blood makes the mission a doomed gore fest from the beginning. They band with a pack of hyenas and during their journey Tacoma learns he carries the genetic trait of a were-hyena. A trait that reflects visibly in their baby boy.

Meanwhile back in Oakland, Slow Poke and Iron Head are visited by emissaries of a governing vampire sect called the Honored Elders. The message was a disrespectful ultimatum regarding Helen, to which Slow Poke and Iron Head answer in their usual way. Murder. And thus provoke a looming vampire war waiting for Tacoma, Helen, and Mama Marcella when they return to Oakland. If they even make it back to Oakland.

The review: Despite my initial worry I really rather enjoyed the first Gangpire volume, it successfully merged gang culture and vampirism into a truly urban fantasy.

With the second volume author Sentu Taylor eschewed more of the same, instead lifting his characters out of the familiar urban landscape and placing them firstly in Ethiopia, and then back in time to an Ethiopia filled with mythological tribes. This leads us to meet the were-hyenas mentioned in the blurb as well as snake people, master warlocks and of course vampires. The change in focus gave the book a much more fantasy base, which fitted really well with the Santería aspect of the story's lore. This sees vampirism being created through magic and the Orisha intervening and interfering in the heroes’ lives.

We also discover during this book that the offspring of two vampires is a very powerful vampire, the infant grows rapidly and continues to age until reaching the average of both parents ages. For the first few days the vampire infant must eat daily but cannot survive imbibing the magically created synthetic blood that our heroes subsist on. In vampire society such babies are killed as they are too powerful.

The urban fantasy aspect of the books is kept in focus through the storyline that follows the remaining gang members in Oakland, but the purpose is very much to bridge us into the third volume.

Again I really rather liked this, the prose rose above the urban language used and carried the reader on a rip roaring adventure. 7 out of 10.

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