Saturday, March 14, 2020
The Bookwyrm's Review of I'm Glad You're Dead by Hunter Blain
Author: Hunter Blain
Length: 333 Pages/8 hours, 39 Minutes (Audio)
Release Date: March 8, 2019/December 9, 2019 (Audio)
Narrator: Luke Daniels
Series: Preternatural Chronicles, Book 1
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Being a big fan of urban fantasy for a long time, I am always looking for new books to check out. When I was given the chance to read and review I'm Glad You're Dead, the premise hooked me and I knew I had to check it out. That turned out to be a good decision, since this book takes the usual vampire tropes, spins them in a blender, and makes them its own with some whole new wrinkles.
In Houston, a vampire named John is the last of his kind. Working with catholic priest Phillip Philseep, John is best described as a fixer, putting down supernatural menaces such as demons and their summoners. Being a vampire, John needs human blood, and satisfies the need by killing murderers and rapists. There is a supernatural underground with only one rule: don't let the mundanes see you doing supernatural stuff. Secrecy is the key to their society's safety, and someone has been trying to raise demons, threatening their exposure. Father Philseep thinks there's a bigger conspiracy behind the demon summoning, and it's up to John to find out what.
The story also flashes back to John's past, showing how and when he became a vampire. As a teen in the late 1400's Ireland, his parents are killed in a pogrom against heretics. While he awaits his fate, John is given a choice by a strange man offering him revenge against the men who killed his family. Taking the offer, he is made into a vampire and proceeds on a crusade to destroy his parent's killers, learning to use the many powers of his vampire nature, finally ending years later in an event that changes the course of his unlife.
Back in the present day, a local warlock tries to warn John off the hunt for the summoners. John, in his hatred for being told what to do, instead antagonizes the warlock, letting him know that he was not dropping the pursuit. Ending up back in his secure hidden home under a crypt, he awakens in the day weakened and seeing sunlight in his hidey hole, which is filling with water and iron dust, which is toxic to any magical creature, including vampires. Burning and weak, John is half a step ahead from the tactical team that is trying to kill him in a place they shouldn't know exists. With the help of his one foot tall fairy roommate, John manages to fool the team. He also discovers the warlock has an unexpected connection to his past, guaranteeing they will be confronting another again.
Escaping out the hidden emergency exit, John is so hurt he is basically feral, and breaks the cardinal rule, don't hurt innocents. This leads him into conflict with Father Philseep, who locks him away in a special cell. Fearing the priest means to kill him, John escapes with some difficulty and proceeds to get some help from another friend, a werewolf he knew from World War Two. They go after the cause of demon summoning, finding that it has a connection to John's first moments of his undead life, and will have repercussions that will affect the rest of John's undead life.
CHARACTERS AND WORLD BUILDING
This is very much a character driven story. Taking place in modern Houston, with only a secret underbelly of supernatural creatures, it relies heavily on the characters and their interactions. John is a very interesting character, being over 500 years old, as well as a completely irreverent smart ass. He is kind of tragic, trying to atone for years of blood and slaughter, knowing the truth of the afterlife. His friends, Da the fairy and his werewolf friend are also fun characters, each bring something to the story. The villain has realistic motivations, even if they are a lust for power. The various supernaturals are creatively described, and get some new twists.
The setting, modern Houston, is a nice change of pace from the usual New York, Chicago or LA urban fantasy setting. It does have the stereotypical magical bar that's neutral ground, with the requisite mysterious barman owner, but that's about the only trope as far as setting. The rest is just real Houston with supernatural events and creatures, giving it a realistic gritty feel not often found in urban fantasy books.
The narration is handled quite ably by Audible Hall of Famer Luke Daniels. I was very familiar with his other work, so I came in knowing what to expect, and wasn't disappointed. Luke does an amazing job creating various character voices, using a wide variety of tones, accents and cadences to differentiate the various characters. His narrative pacing is some of the best in the business, never becoming monotonous, while keeping the listener engaged at all times. I would consider this some of his best work to date.
I was surprised how many unique aspects the book had. This is definitely not a sparkly vampire romance with vegetarian vampires, but a redemption story set in an offbeat setting, with a cast of characters that keeps the readers on tier toes. I know I am excited to see how the series continues on, and will definitely be doing a review for that one as well. This book has something to offer for any fan of vampire and urban fantasy stories.