by Barbara J Hancock, paranormal (2009)
Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 978-1-60504-460-6
Jarvis Winters is a vampire slayer. While staking out at a hot nightspot, he spots a woman having her fresh hemoglobin juice direct from the source. He follows Holly Spinnaker, our reluctant vampire heroine, to her home, only to witness a family bickering that will bring new life to Jerry Springer's trashy talk show should he manage to get them onto his show. As Holly's sister suggests killing their parents and their Maker Dillon tries to get hot and heavy with Holly, Jarvis decides to put an end to the circus by killing Holly's sister. Holly is next, of course... but we all know he won't kill her, or else there will be no story.
Since Dillon, the bad vampire, manages to escape during Jarvis' personal Buffy hour, Holly, who understandably doesn't want to die, offers her services to help him track Dillon down. The chase is on.
Hunger is a story that becomes better as it progresses. It starts off slow and even awkwardly, causing me to roll up my eyes when Holly starts accusing Jarvis of being a murderer when her own sister was just talking about killing their parents a while earlier. I'd think Holly would be happy that Jarvis has indirectly saved her parents. However, as the story progresses, the characterization become more consistent and the story becomes a very compelling read as both Holly and Jarvis struggle to reconcile their attraction to each other with her vampire nature.
This story is almost a throwback to those days when vampires are constantly moaning about their unhappy situation, only this time we have a gender twist on the old school formula in that Holly is the one who plays the unhappy vampire. But at the same time, this story doesn't romanticize vampires. I like how Ms Hancock stays true to her initial premise all the way to the end - there is no cheesy too-unrealistically-happy resolutions here (although there is a happy ending, of course, so don't worry) and there is no soulmate-I-shag-thee nonsense either.
There are some violence, some gore, and an interesting villain as well, although I personally feel that what the author does to Dillon is a pretty ridiculous cop-out. Come on, we are not running that short on sequel baits, are we?
There is a compelling dark urban fantasy tinge to the story that I really like, particularly the sense of bleak despair mingling with stark loneliness that permeates the characters and the horror overtones. Really, Hunger is actually a solid and very compelling read. Were not for the slow and awkward first few chapters, this one would have an unquestionable winner where I am concerned.
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