For fans of recent vampire fantasy who are just expecting more of the same (Charlaine Harris, Tanya Huff or Laurell K. Hamilton), this will be a startling departure. Is this book funny? Very much so, in a sly and subtle fashion, and yet, not ashamed to take pot-shots at itself and the entire horror genre.
However, this story of a man who is half-vampire (how? Oh, just read it and find out!) and muddling his way through the complex behavioral code of the undead of Seattle whilst trying to uncover the mystery of how his half-life is possible, is not a light read. Simmons uses words like Milton - wielding double-edged entendres like literary scimitars.
Simmons is a very skilled and highly intellectual writer - the vampire lore is dissected and remolded producing something more similar to an 18th century novel in its narrative scope and dexterity. However, his very strengths of copious quotes and well-thought out scientific reasoning may be seen by others as weaknesses, since they are stark aberrations from the norm. (As a contrast, Charlaine Harris subtly wends in literary references, like sly narrative winks to those in the know, but never lets a reader feel out of place if they don't get the joke. Simmons sometimes seems to be bludgeoning readers over the head with his encyclopedic knowledge of Romantic poetry and Shakespearean references.)
Although, it's somewhat distracting that all of the characters sound like Harvard Literature PhD candidates, because it's unnatural (rather like the Dawson's Creek kids at their most pretentious), it's a very small flaw, easily forgiven. The virtuosity of their wit and flashes of humor negate what could be construed as stuffy, stilted dialogue. Basically, it's how we'd all like to talk in an ideal world replete with intellectuals.
Overall, it's an interesting read. It drags at places where character histories and motivations are being developed, but it's a compelling, intriguing entry into the genre. I found it highly enjoyable and a fun, challenging read. Just don't go in expecting something light and fluffy....Continua