Attack of the Vampire Weenies: And Other Warped and Creepy Tales
Starscape (Tor), May 2011, $15.99
David Lubar has released another humorous horror anthology aimed at middle school readers. The thirty tales are spooky but contain no blood or slashing. The stories are short, but gripping as the young audience will enjoy the brisk reading experience.
The title entry stars a boy sick of the fake vampires especially his sister and her boyfriend and decides to teach the “undead” a biting lesson. “The Ride of a Lifetime” focuses on Zack who wants to ride the Titanium Tempest, but his family prevent him so he pulls off a stunt for a midnight ride only to know he wants off immediately. Particularly amusing is “Chirp” who turns into different birds when he says “Chirp”, but will soon make a potentially fatal mistake. Jacob is disgusted with the workers lazing around until he complains and learns what their “Roadwork” is missing. In “Lost and Found”, Dale and Kirby find an expensive handkerchief with a series of symbols sewn into it that has them take it a grateful Xantin who is euphoric and glad to have two boys inside his house of horrors.
The other contributions are as scary and funny whether it is in the school gym or running a train, as Mr. Lubar provides an amusing compilation. Harriet Klausner
Sex and the Single Vampire
Anton Melrose II, chief of the western division of the United Psychical Research Association, informs employee Summoner Alegra Telford that if fails again, she will return from London for the states unemployed. Alegra feels like a charlatan as she is in England because that is where many ghosts haunt and as a Summoner, she should be able to make contact.
Nine centuries old Moravian Dark One Christian Dante detests swinging London though he swings the scene in an attempt that seems futile to find his cherished one; only she can save his soul with her love. His nightmare wait suddenly turns to a blissful dream when he meets Alegra who thinks she has summoned him through the portals of the netherworld. He persuades her that he has never even visited the place, but as a vampire, he hopes that she will insure that he never does. When Alegra finally succeeds in summoning ghosts, she comes to the attention of worshippers of the dark and their malevolent evil spirit. Only with Christian's help can she hope to remain safe even as she finds herself reciprocating the love he feels for her.
A reprint of a 2004 book, Sex and the Single Vampire is an amusing paranormal romance starring two delightful protagonists, a horde of supernatural creatures that make the beyond seem real plus the return of Alegra's pals from A Girl’s Guide to Vampires (also Dante’s first appearance). The story line hooks the audience from the moment that Christian and Alegra meet because the reader feels the attraction that sets in motion the dangerous gathering of a deadly entity and his followers. Urban romantic fantasy readers will enjoy this one-bite sitting teeth in cheek (and neck) tale. Harriet Klausner
Rush of Darkness
Harlequin HQN, $7.99
In France, since her rescue from the evil Casus and Westmore the malevolent Kraven, half-breed (Deschanel vampire and Alacea psychic) Raine Spenser obsesses over destroying her former evil captors. Her vendetta is personal not just because of what they did to her, but because they murdered her sister. She plans to send them to a hell worse than the Meriden prison they escaped from.
Former vampire hunter Seth McConnell has enlisted with the Watchmen to prevent Westmore from succeeding with his dreadful schemes. Since vampires massacred his family, Seth loathes the undead. Still he has to reconcile his hatred with his need for Raine who soothes his troubled soul though she distrusts the hunter who rescued her and he distrusts the half-vamp he rescued.
The seventh Primal Instinct urban fantasy romance (see Touch of Temptation, Touch of Seduction and Touch of Surrender) is an engaging tale of star-crossed lovers as he hates her kind (at least half of her kind) and she hates loving him as that emotion interferes with her prime objective. Fans of the saga will relish this fine entry as Rhyannon Byrd keeps the overarching paranormal war theme moving forward while focusing on the romance between two essences who by nature and nurture should be mortal enemies. Harriet Klausner
Night Mares in the Hamptons
A wall divides our world from a universe where magic exists and creatures from our mythos are real. Graphic novelist Willow Tate draws beings from that other realm; but what makes her unique is sometimes her depictions break through the barrier to her world. It is not a shocker that Willow is a Visualizer; as she comes from Paumanok Harbor in the Hamptons, a place where many residents possess psychic skills.
Three Night Mares arrive in the small Long Island village seeking a missing colt. They flicker in and out at night causing sleepless woes for the locals, but never appear in day light. People lack sleep and suffer from nightmares that has everyone irritable and over the edge. Minor irritants turn into full scale wars. The Department of Unexplained Events sends internationally renowned horse whisperer, Texan Ty Farraday to help the towns folk send the magical night mares home. He and Willow are attracted to one another and he make it known he wants her while in town. Willow focuses on the missing foal as she can sense the terror felt by the baby steed as people who possess the magical horse will kill to keep their prize.
With a nod to Xanth, the second engaging Willow Long island fantasy (see Trolls in the Hamptons) is a wonderful tale in which the fun story line never takes anything seriously. Willow is terrific holding the plot together through her courage and fear while the eccentric villagers enhance the purposely hyperbolized thriller. With a romantic subplot adding to the mix, Celia Jerome has written a charmer.