An Unattractive Vampire is the tale of a centuries-old vampire named Yulric Bile, who is awakened after being trapped underground (in a house) for three-hundred years. He finds that the world has changed in many ways, but is most disappointed to discover that the vampires of his time are no longer. The Phantom Vampire Mysteries is a popular television show and portrays the kind of vampires that exist today–they’re beautiful, not as powerful, and follow a set of rules that makes them appear mostly good. The new owner of the house where Yulric was trapped, Amanda, and her strangely knowledgeable eight-year-old brother, Simon, teach Yulric the ways of the world and help him as he sets out to eradicate this new kind of vampire and once again teach everyone what a real vampire is.
An Unattractive Vampire is the debut novel of author Jim McDoniel. It’s a very inventive, and often hilarious, way to show how neutered vampires have become in certain media outputs. The satire oozes from each page and is really what makes this book such a joy to read. When a novel can make you laugh out loud from either the descriptions or dialogue (the footnotes even evoke a good chuckle here and there), you know you have a winner on your hands. McDoniel has cleverly constructed a world rich with satirical humor and observations, which comes out through its engaging characters.
Yulric Bile (which is a great name, by the way) is a Nosferatu-like vampire whose personality readers will immediately love. In fact, you might find yourself, like I did, identifying the most with him. In a way, Yulric represents any horror fan that is not so much a fan of the sparkly, brooding, romantic vampires of today. I often found myself agreeing with, or at least understanding, the frustrations he had with how weak the modern vampires of the story are. At the same time, though, the book also addresses–through the character of Yulri–how we can sometimes still love these movies and TV shows despite our misgivings. He scoffs at the poser vampires on the show The Phantom Vampire Mysteries, yet still becomes obsessed with the story and relationships within.
One thing I really loved was the relationship between Amanda and Simon. They’ve lost their parents in a car accident, and Amanda has become the head of the household. She plays the role of the mother and scolds him when need be, but understands that Simon is different. He’s very precocious and is interested in things that other eight-year-olds are not (the reason for which is explained much later on in the book). Amanda and the other characters often defer to his knowledge and ideas, so that you sometimes forget he is just a kid. Amanda herself is also a complicated character with her own agenda, and she really has a nice arc. And when Amanda, Simon, and Yulric come together and become housemates, they form a very unlikely trio, but their interactions throughout the story are some of the best and funniest.
More vampires and other hilarious characters enter the mix when one person is kidnapped and the two groups of vampires converge for their final showdown. McDoniel introduces an interesting supernatural and metaphysical plot point for this part of the story that is quite unique, even though it was a little confusing to understand where he was going with it at first. But I love seeing this kind of inventiveness come out of a new author. It makes me that much more excited to see what else he has in store for our genre in the future.
With its wit and ingenuity, An Unattractive Vampire will definitely be a book that horror or just vampire fans will want to read right away. It was one of the first novels to be published by Sword and Laser and is available now, so get your copy today!