I thought I would tackle this book review a bit differently today. Usually, I do a review after each book I read but the books I’ve read recently are all a bit short for that, and I’ve read 7 of them in the course of a week so it was a bit quick to get a review done in between each instalment. I’m reviewing a series by J R Rain, entitled “Vampire For Hire” and it incorporates the following novellas:
Moon Dance (Vampire For Hire #1)
Vampire Moon (Vampire For Hire #2)
American Vampire (Vampire For Hire #3)
Moon Child (Vampire For Hire #4)
Christmas Moon (Vampire For Hire #4.5)
Vampire Dawn (Vampire For Hire #5)
Vampire Games (Vampire For Hire #6)
Official blurb: Mother, wife, private investigator…vampire. Six years ago federal agent Samantha Moon was the perfect wife and mother, your typical soccer mom with the minivan and suburban home. Then the unthinkable happens, an attack that changes her life forever. And forever is a very long time for a vampire.
My take: I downloaded the first one of these books because it was available for 20p and I thought it would be a nice change from the murder and carnage I’d been reading so far this year. It appealed to me because it appeared to be a different take on a well established and well worn path of literary vampirism.
The first thing that struck me about it was that this was a woman PI who happened to find herself as a vampire, and the story was centred around her trying to strike the balance between motherhood and working full-time. Admittedly her “work” involved some investigation and some vampire activity, but it was something I could identify with as a working mother myself.
The stories are very comic-book in style, which is great for a light-hearted read, but I feel the author has missed a trick here. There is great potential to write a half decent novel with the same material in these books, especially with regards to the interpersonal stuff going on. Sam Moon, the protagonist, has got the breakdown of her marriage to contend with, as well as the usual stuff of child-rearing, and as the series progresses we see her come to terms with the new life she has been thrust into and begin new relationships with new men. Some supernatural, some not.
Where is it set?
It is set in Orange County, California.
Who is the main character(s)?
The series is told in the first person by Samantha Moon, and her children are Anthony and Tammy. Her ex-husband is Danny and she has an online friendship with a character called Fang. We meet him in person later on in the series and we learn his name is Aaron. The other main characters are a defence attorney called Kingsley Fulcrum, which whom Sam shares a personal relationship, a homicide detective called Detective Sherbet who has a penchant for doughnuts, and an ex-federal partner who Sam calls on from time to time when she needs some extra help in searching for details. Each of the books in the series has its own story and set of “other” characters, but these are the recurring characters that we meet time and time again.
How well is it written?
I think there is far too much repetition in these books which makes them extremely distracting to read. We are CONSTANTLY reminded of Sam’s need to wear sunblock for example, and the same details about her dietary needs are repeated time and again. There are huge plot holes, and too many times I found myself asking “how did she end up THERE??”.
At first the very short sentences got on my nerves. The sentence structure made it so that I felt I was being spoken to as if there was something wrong with me and I could only cope with miniscule sentences. Like this. It was annoying. I told my husband. He wasn’t interested. You see what I mean?? However, once I got into the rhythm of the narrative it wasn’t as noticeable as it was at first and I got with it. Trouble was that I tended to read faster and faster, and each book was finished in record time!
The plotting was OK, the pacing was alright, and the author very cleverly left the ending of each book with a massive cliff-hanger which made me download the next one right away so I could get on with the story. Way to go J R Rain!!
My overall impression?
I thought overall these were great reads, if a little lightweight and repetitive. I was annoyed with myself for finding them so compelling – it was a bit like trying to stick to a diet but stuffing a sneaky McDonald’s down…then another….then another….then another…. So good, but not exactly healthy!
They put me in mind of daytime TV – endless trailers and recaps for the program you’re already watching, chopped up and separated by endless commercials to keep your concentration at a certain level of average engagement.
Will I read the next in the series?
I managed to curb my addiction before I hit the download button for book 7 and I can honestly say that I have got Sam Moon and her life out of my head. The last one I read saw a turn in the character which I didn’t like and I don’t think I want to read any more of her. You could say that my 6th Big Mac was enough!
Would I recommend it to my friends?
Yes. They were harmless enough and nothing of too much blood and guts to put people off reading them. I didn’t get a lot of the cultural references (I don’t understand the implications of the term “soccer mom”, or the significance of Orange County for example) but I think my American friends would get a lot more out of them than I did.
A light, frothy, shallow take on the supernatural. Harmless enough and an engaging way to pass the time.