In an effort to remain completely transparent with the readers of this article, I have a confession to make. I am vehemently against the modern vampire mythos. Pretty much everything vampire that has been released post 2001 has angered me as a horror fan. They don’t sparkle. They aren’t romantic. They aren’t secretly virtuous. Vampires are evil, dark, vile things. They don’t romance. They either kill or enslave (and sometimes both). When Dallas and Celeste told me that they were doing Fangtober, I knew I wanted to participate as much as I could. Initially, I wanted to review the grand daddy of all vampire lore: Dracula by Bram Stoker. “Someone else is doing that,” I was told. Well crud…. in the end I forewent any books anyone would have heard of (Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice or Salem’s Lot by Stephen King were considered) and decided upon one of my favorite books of all time: An Unattractive Vampire by Jim McDoniel.
This book starts out with a few time jumps that I believe are necessary to establish both backstory as well as tone for the narrative. The story centers on 3 main characters: Yulric Bile (our titular vampire) and siblings Amanda and Simon. Yulric has been imprisoned below the children’s house for 300 years and forgotten about until Simon, a hyper-intelligent 8 year old, learns of his existence from the journal of a witchfinder from the 1700s. Amanda, a early 20s vampire fangirl, releases him in hopes that he will turn her so she can always be there to protect her brother (as their parents were killed in a car wreck before the beginning of the book). Upon his release, Yulric is appalled by what the modern vampire has become. He becomes intent upon finding whomever is responsible and making them pay the price.
In this book you will learn about true vampiric lore from various cultures around the globe, which I wound to be one of the most fascinating parts of the book. It is incredibly obvious that Mr. McDoniel did his homework. It soon becomes evident that many cultures have very similar versions of vampire folklore, and all of them clash with the ideas presented from modern vampire storytelling.
There are very solid themes in this book about Family, Identity, Loyalty in the face of adversity, and… umm…. the danger of being too much of a fanboy/fangirl. This book intentionally remains surface level with it’s critique of modern vampire lore and will not get too deep or emotional with any of the ideas that it intends to convey. It is incredibly humorous with several laugh-out-loud moment.
As a Christian recommending this book to other Christians, however, I feel that I would be in error if I did not provide some content warnings for this book. This is a book about vampires, so monsters of similar ilk will be in this book, as well as violent and vampiric actions. There are a few swear words in it, but they are infrequent. I think that the most common thing that I should make potential readers aware of is that there is some sexual dialogue. Nothing pornographic by any extent, as there aren’t any sexual scenes in this book, but there are several tongue in cheek comments that are made for comedic effect (typically to crack wise about the puritans of the 1700s or the goth/vampire culture of the late 1990s/early 2000s). I probably would say that it would be inappropriate for anyone in their early teens or younger.
In the end, I would recommend this book do anyone who is sick of the current vampire norms, enjoys strange and irregular comedic stories, or just wants to read a good lighthearted story without a lot of deep subtext…. with vampires.