One thing to get out of the way first. It seems almost inevitable that this book will be likened to either Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire novels or their TV adaptation, True Blood. While they do share a basic conceit, that vampires and other supernatural beings are now assimilating into everyday society, there are more than enough differences between them for Straight Outta Fangton to hold it’s own.
Stone is a survivor. He made it through a tour in Iraq and came home to Detroit, only to find his brother murdered. Rather than go out in a hail of bullets trying to kill those responsible, he accepts an offer from his brother’s employer. He goes from becoming a half-breed servant, then a full-fledged new-born vampire and he finds the strength to keep going despite being dismissed and left to scrabble for a living.
Written in the first-person, it’s very easy to identify with Stone (or maybe that’s just me). His interactions with many of the other characters have the ring of authenticity, whether it’s the banter with his best friend, the mix of respect and antagonism with his former mentor or the unbridled hostility towards his enemies. Also, his frustration with his apparent lack of any specific vampire gift and jealousy regarding the gifts of others feels natural enough. Once his gift does manifest, it actually serves a dual purpose, allowing for back story to be told in a different way as well as being an important tool.
Being part of C.T. Phipps’ United States of Monsters universe, and billed as a comedic vampire novel, it leans heavily into humour and pop culture references. While this is most used for comedic effect, a rather poignant note comes about two-thirds of the way through when another character points out that eventually Stone’s vampire nature will mean that he will potentially out-live his references.
If I do have a complaint, it is that it felt a little too easy to predict where the story was going. But, like so many other things, the joy is as much in the journey and I will be seeking out the next installment.
4 out of 5 Qwik & Shops