vampires and werewolves and goblins, oh my!

God Save the Queen by Kate Locke

I won a copy of Kate Locke’s God Save the Queen during one of the monthly LibraryThing giveaways and let it sit on my TBR review pile since July… I finally got around to reading it while working on NaNo. It might be the novel’s fast pace, or its fun, snarky characters, but Xandra’s misadventures kept me sane during start of the writing frenzy and provided me with just the right kind of entertainment to keep me from going down the road of writerly one-track-mindedness.

The novel is set in a sci-fi-ish, steampunkish, present day, alternate London ruled by a vampiric Queen Victoria, and inhabited by vampires, werewolves, goblins, and a special hybrid breed of “halvies.” There’s a neat explanation about how these species came to be as a result of the Plague, but the book does a better job of explaining it than I do. This is the first in the Immortal Empire series, so there is a lot of world-building, and plenty of conspiracies and plot bunnies are introduced to set the series in motion.

My one pet peeve is that blurb on the back of the book does it a complete disservice. After reading the blurb, I assumed the novel would focus on the vampiric Queen Victoria, but it is really about [Ale]Xandra Vardan, halvie and kick-ass member of the Royal Guard. When Xandra’s half-sister, Drusilla, dies, Xandra is the only one who suspects that her sister’s suicide is more than it seems. Underground rebellions and dangerous encounters abound as Xandra tries to learn the truth of her sister’s death, only to find more than she bargained for… including a goblin Prince and a sexy werewolf.

Even while trying to work on my own writing, I became totally immersed in Locke’s alternate London. Xandra is just the kind of heroine I enjoy and Vex is the best kind of supportive hero-lover figure. I want more!

just a girl (with fangs)

La Vida Vampire by Nancy Haddock

I am not a particular fan of vampire novels, but every little bookshop I browsed through during my trip to St. Augustine had copies of Nancy Haddock’s series, so I was curious enough to download a copy to my nook. La Vida Vampire is the first in the Oldest City Vampire series, paranormal romance/mysteries set in Old St. Augustine. Overall, the novel combines the feel of a Sookie Stackhouse novel with the fluffiness of a cozy.

The series follows the misadventures of recently unearthed, 200-something year old vampire, Francesca “Cesca” Marinelli as she tries to find her place in modern St. Augustine by working as a tour guide for Old City Ghost Tours. In Cesca’s world, vampires are part of everyday society, but are registered and tracked via a GPS device implanted in their arms. Other paranormal creatures abound, including warlocks, ghosts, and shapeshifters, but vampires steal the scene in this installment.

A reluctant vampire at best, Cesca blends in well, living with her human sponsor and making friends with other members of the ghost tour company, but a visit from a member of the local, anti-vampire Covenant and a couple of strange French tourists rattles her quiet afterlife. Murder, misleading evidence, and a sexy detective soon bring Cesca’s world on its head.

This is a quick, beachy kind of read. It’s fluff with a side of local history, and made for a fun way to remember my mini-break in St. Augustine. Haddock does a good job of tying loose ends, while also setting up the premise for the next installment in the series, so it can be read as a standalone without the cliff-hangery feeling you get with some paranormal romance series.