Grayson’s debut comedy trails a relatively young vampire helping his high school crush—the woman who turned him—stop a powerful old vampire with plans for world domination.
When Josh Blackthorn’s vampire sponsor leaves on business, the two-year vamp’s replacement is Becky, who gave Josh his first bite at their high school reunion. Becky requested the gig to ask Josh to join in her fight against her evil stepfather, Günter Van Helsing. The bloodsucker may have killed Becky’s father, and he also seems to have hypnotized her mother into marriage—practicing the same mind control he’s plotting to use against the world. Are the fledgling vamps a match against a vampire more than a century old? A number of vampire novels have a tendency to list guidelines for the undead, particularly when one is the narrator, but Grayson’s story thankfully avoids this. He allows the specifics of vampire life to unfold gradually (Josh quells the garlic myth with a quick joke about using it as a spice), without interrupting the main plot of stopping Van Helsing and rescuing Becky’s mom. The majority of vampire attributes cover familiar terrain: Senses are heightened, stakes kill and sunlight is tolerable with enough sunscreen. Grayson adds a few atypical touches—vamps reflect in mirrors and werewolf-killing silver bullets prove lethal to vampires. Josh and Becky’s romance isn’t fully fleshed out, relegated mostly to Josh’s jealousy over the presumed closeness between Becky and his human pal Steve. But Josh and Becky’s scenes together are pure regalement, especially when they spend the book’s second act practicing hypnosis and psychokinesis to combat Van Helsing’s powers, leading to their donning aluminum-foil hats to block the old vamp’s mind reading and caps to cover the foil so they aren’t seen as conspiracy nuts. The final act involves a somewhat typical attempt to infiltrate the villain’s HQ, but Grayson retains a good amount of humor throughout and incorporates subtle wordplay: “Vampires are suckers for the gothic look.”
Brings little that’s new to the world of literary vampires, but its unconventionality should leave readers with fanged smiles.