Let me first say that when I first picked up “VampCon” it was with, shall we say, some reservations.
Let’s face it. Ever since John William Polidori wrote “The Vampyre” in 1748, we the readers have been inundated with every variation of vampire. (No, Bram Stoker wasn’t the first, although “Dracula” is regarded as the best.) Vamps that turn into bats, wolves, and bears. Ones that could only be killed with a stake through the heart, had their heads cut off, or exposed to sunlight. Those who could only be warded off with garlic, a blessed crucifix, or for crying out loud, plain white rice. Lived in castles, tenements, and tunnels, driving hot-rods, or battling their ancient enemy, the werewolf.
Without going into more of a dissertation, I’ll just say one could assume that there’s not really a way anyone could vary the vampire theme more than it’s been done.
And they’d be stone cold wrong.
This book is chock-a-block with “nevers”.
For instance, I’ve never read a work in which the vamps (and there a lot of them) are all associated with various ancient houses, and are constantly enveloped in a power struggle to wrench control and influence from other families.
I’ve never experienced bloodsuckers that play scrabble.
I’ve never seen the pale-faced folk possess different powers that are unique to them, and based on their sins during their mortal lives (and you won’t be-lieve some of these.)
And I’ve certainly never seen them regarding the killing of humans as being secondary to killing their own kind – and doing so in deliciously varied ways.
And then there’s Jonathan Stoker. The story’s hero, a regular old guy who’s bitten and turned – and hates with a passion the woman who turned him. The unwilling vamp who can only think of how all this affects his relationship with his mortal son, who he can never see again.
There’s bloodshed on a massive scale (almost entirely vamp blood, can you believe that), intrigue, politics (vamp variety – there’s no voting, just whacking your opponent), deception, and oh yes, spiders. Big ones.
And you know, despite all the cool thingies in the book, the real treat is how the book is written. Which is to say, spectacularly well. The guys, both good and bad, are crystal-clear and impeccably portrayed, the plot is colorful, intricate, and laid out flawlessly, with not one nano-second of dead time. (pardon the pun, or not, I thought it was good) Though it leads you through a myriad of characters and sub-themes, it does so with a firm hand, and there’s not an ounce of wondering what happened to her or what about this.
All the above meandering was my way of saying this is one of the best books I’ve read in a very long while, and it’s good enough for me to read twice. Which I most definitely will.