Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Vampire of Blackpool – review

Author: Catherine Green

First published: 2016

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: The vampire, the witch, and the hunter battle it out in a contemporary Gothic adventure in Northern England. Meredith Hanson lives in Blackpool, the former Victorian holiday hotspot of Northern England. She masquerades as a reclusive author, feeding on the blood of unsuspecting tourists without remorse. Her life takes on new meaning when she meets a young witch in a local pub one evening. Despite Meredith’s cold demeanour, she finds herself oddly fascinated with Samantha Morris, and falls into an accidental relationship with the girl. It is at this time that a vampire hunter arrives in Blackpool. He is tough, he is determined, and his next target is an ancient vampire that has been spotted in the tourist town. He intends to bring her down and destroy her to save the lives of innocent humans. Will he succeed? Or will the experienced vampire seductress be the cause of his undoing?

The review: Blackpool. It’s the last place one would imagine a supernatural battle between a powerful vampire and a hunter, with witches’ covens and shapeshifters. It’s the last place one would imagine setting a gothic piece (I did once write an – unpublished – vampire piece set in Blackpool but it was grimy and urban not Gothic and romantic). How can I say that, well its where I live and it is a town that revels in its chintz and seedy underbelly – probably more suited to the comic stylings of the Slayers than what is, essentially, a paranormal romance.

The location of Blackpool was perhaps a little difficult for me as I didn’t recognise the town within the writing geographically. That is not usually a problem, of course, as an author creates a fantasy that can vary from reality and the reader more often than not knows a place through their prose not through their own experience. This is therefore not an issue within the book and has not impacted my score of the prose.

Green’s prose is, in of itself, strong. Some of the dialogue perhaps was stagy but as vampire Meredith is ancient that felt right. There was a degree of thriller to the book – some details felt contrived (a person killed and then dropped in the sea would not be thought of as a drowning victim as there would be no water in the lungs) – but mostly it was a character driven romance. You might recall that the author recently gave TMtV a guest blog and I felt I could feel the protagonist imposing her will upon the story direction, perhaps driving towards a love triangle through the natural flow of writing.

I was interested in the urban fantasy aspect, the apparent layers hidden within society – of secret police sections dealing with the supernatural, of slayer guilds, covens and a whole hidden society. That was pitched very well. As for the vampire she was very powerful, able to fly and her eyes betrayed a lunar connection (turning the silver of moonlight). Sunlight renders the vampires powerless and the vampire had perhaps an energy vampire aspect, ingesting emotions and attitudes from their victims along with their blood. Perhaps feeding into the interesting supernatural society the author drew was the idea that the vampires themselves had grown weary, as a group, and now rarely turned humans.

This might have some urban fantasy and thriller aspects but, as I say, it is a paranormal romance at heart and if you are looking for that type of book it is worth your time. 7 out of 10.

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