Monday, 6 January 2014

Vampires Inc: Hunter's Moon, by Paul Blum

The first installment in the Vampires Inc series from Barrington Stoke, a set of supernatural monster stories set in the city of Brighton and aimed at older and less confident readers.

John Logan, an author, visits Brighton to meet with his new research assistant and to gather information and inspiration for his next novel.  Brighton has a reputation for being "Anything Goes" so it is popular with people who consider themselves vampires, witches and warewolves.  A series of vampire attacks in the night leads John's new contact, Vampire hunter, bite expert and yoga teacher Rose Peal on a mission to discover the murderous vampire who has broken the rules that the supernatural community live by.  The Hunter's Moon makes the vampires stronger- can John and Rose stop him before he kills again?

Fast paced and full of action, I can see this being really popular with year 8s and 9s that still resist reading. Supernatural horror refuses to go away, and this short novel is pretty inclusive- the language is nice and easy and the plot pacy but uncomplicated.  I was really impressed with the strength of the characters in this book.  John the author is sort of simple, but he has a lot to learn and does it quickly.  He doesn't seem to get much writing done at all though.  Rose is intelligent, strong willed and resourceful, showing newbie John the ropes of the Demon-hunter trade.  She's a brilliant character; tattooed, pierced and pink dyed.  Something that is kind of missing from a lot of YA novels...There's no romantic link between the characters and Rose definitely sets the pace for the novel, making John more of a bystander at times.

I really liked the whole page images that set the scenes for the story- the art style is brilliantly moody.  I thought the inclusion of the character profiles and the map were nice touch too- it would be a big help to those that struggle with independent imagination and provides a handy set of characteristics and a firm setting to work with.  The writing is really engaging and doesn't feel simplified, much more fluid and pacy than a lot of shorter novels, feels like a real thriller.  To tell what is quite a simple story in such an engrossing way is a hell of a skill!

I wonder though what boys will make of this- vampires have a bit of a reputation for being seen as "girly", however ridiculous any gendering of fantastical creatures might it would need to be made evident that it was more of a murder mystery with vampires, rather than a dark romance if trying to target certain readers.

Overall, was very much impressed with this Barrington Stoke offering!

Click on the video below to hear the author, Paul Blum, reading an extract from Hunter's Moon.

Paul Blum reads from Hunter's Moon from Renlearn UK on Vimeo.

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