The Vampire Fred: Wicked Game by Vaughn R. Demont
Being a vampire sucks, especially when you’ve got to deal with things like a dead-end job as an office drone, avoiding vigilante vampire slayers on the subway, and being price-gouged on blood from the slaughterhouse. Add in a crush on your annoyingly charismatic sire, and unraveling a little conspiracy to upset the balance of power among the vampires of the City, and it’s all in a night’s work though for fledgling vampire Fred Tompkins, as long as he doesn’t miss out on any overtime.
The blurb on this caught my eye as it is well written and entertaining, promising a fun romp through the life of a newly minted vampire. Unfortunately the story itself doesn’t live up to the promise in the blurb, but it’s an interesting idea and concept on the theme of vampires. The writing is engaging and fun and the world building is decent, if incomplete. The characters and various vampires within the world are sometimes awkward and the end resolution is simple, yet arriving there is complicated and convoluted. It’s not a difficult story to follow just the style of writing and author’s choices purposefully confuse and attempt to drag out the tension and suspense. For vampire fans, this might be a story that captures your attention.
The blurb does a good job of summarizing the story. Newly created vampire Fred is working the night shift at his office job to pay for his apartment and high blood bills. He’s trying to find a way to kick out the freeloader that created him, is drinking his expensively bought blood, and wearing his favorite clothes but he hates confrontation. Instead Fred suddenly finds himself embroiled in what appears to be a turf war between different sects of vampires, all hinging on a devastating secret getting to the wrong people. As the new biter in the group, Fred must work hard to catch up on politics, romance triangles, deaths, rebirths, and the ever-changing power struggles.
The story is told in first person from Fred’s point of view. For the first half of the story, he has a very engaging voice and often speaks to the reader. This narrative invites the reader to laugh along with his problems and relate to his humdrum life, even the comedy of his death by speeding sports car. Fred has a very relatable and entertaining voice, which creates a fun feel to the story, a common day theme to the idea of vampires. Fred also struggles with his sexuality. A virgin at death, apparently sex doesn’t work so well when reborn as a vampire and thus sexual lines are blurry. He finally realizes he’s gay, something his family already knew, and he focuses those newly awakened feelings on the closest target, his sire Daniel.
The relationship between Daniel and Fred is anemic and weak. There is later justification in the story for the depth of feeling, but this didn’t help the relationship and the romantic declaration was rushed and ill fitting. The later development between Fred and Daniel helps add depth and emotion while the earlier flirtation is light and easy. The romantic relationship, however, is a very small part of the story where the focus is on the vampire politics and figuring out who told the deadly secret to the enemy.
The actual world building is solid and well done in several areas. It’s clear the author has a well-defined vision of the rules and various vampire clans, yet often that information is not translated well in the story. Many details are left out and/or offered in a confusing manner. The reader is meant to take the journey with Fred, go along with his confusion and slow understanding. This means when Fred is confused, the reader is as well and the final resolution requires a few leaps in knowledge that aren’t offered beforehand. The story also has a storyline involving rebirths that eventually combines into the main storyline but adds to the complex nature of the story and offers very little. The actual strength of the story comes from the fun twist on the vampire theme and the engaging voice of somewhat clueless Fred. The strong core of the story and its likability fades somewhat when the story tries too hard to turn Fred into someone all powerful, all knowing and extremely important.
For the most part, the story is interesting and engrossing. It stumbles towards the end with an overly complicated mystery, adding in too many twists and leaps of knowledge to give a convoluted explanation to a simple answer. The ending also casts doubt on the relationships built and creates a situation where even the most simple acts, such as sex, are now very difficult. I’m personally not sure where a world such as this could go in the future because it would only get more complex and confusing, instead of the strong simplistic base but vampire lovers no doubt will want to go where the author leads. The story starts light and easy but soon becomes complex, so this isn’t an evenly paced entertaining story but the character of Fred is a fun narrator and should entice fans to pick up the book. If readers don’t get too caught up in the various twists and turns but can sit back and enjoy the ride, it’s a fun story.
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