Dead Reckoning

by Charlaine Harris (Gollancz) ISBN: 9780575096547

 

When you have an urban fantasy that has a heroine named Sookie picking up synthetic blood for her vampire boyfriend at the Grabbit Kwik shop, or Elvis Presley turned into a bloodsucker by a distraught Memphis morgue assistant, you know this is a novel you shouldn’t take too seriously.

 

The good news is that Charlaine Harris doesn’t want you too. It’s obvious that she has a whole lot of fun writing her far-fetched Sookie Stackhouse yarns—and it rubs off on the reader.

 

Of course, the series has been turned into a hit HBO television series, True Blood, starring Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer.

 

The books are narrated by Sookie, a bargirl living in Bon Temps, Louisiana. She doesn’t just serve ice-tea and burgers in a short skirt—she also has the telepathic gift of reading people’s minds. In the stories, vampires and other paranormal beings have come out of their closets and crypts and live openly among humans. Harris presents this crazy community of werewolves, shape shifters, elves and vampires with sardonic, off-beat humour—she even has a fairy character who is a gay stripper.

 

In Dead Reckoning, Sookie has a whole bunch of human and non-human forces trying to kill her, including a white-trash psychogirl with a grudge and a truculent mafia-style vampire king. But the plot is not important: the pleasure is living vicariously through these crazy, sexy characters’ daily lives.

 

Unlike the stiff, weepy Twilight saga, the Sookie books have a loose, steamy Southern charm that mixes seedy urban drama with witty and outlandish fantasy to deliver an exciting adventure story. A really great read!

 

Anthony Ehlers 

4/5

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The Mechanical Messiah

by Robert Rankin (Gollancz) ISBN: 9780575086371

 

Ever wondered what life would be like if Mr Holmes had a ray gun and Moriarty was literally the devil? No, me neither, but it makes for damn good reading.

 

This book harks but to a time when men were men and women had magic powers and aliens roamed the tundra of mars. Ah! The old days…

 

Besides the silly nature of this work, it is wonderfully easy to read. It has the action and pace to keep you up late and make you call in sick the next morning because you “just have to know!”.

 

Does the devil like music hall? Can the people of Jupiter and Venus be trusted and just how big can the British Empire get? To know all this and less, you must read this magical steam-punk space thriller. There are some who say you should stick to one genre. I don’t know of anyone by name, but they tend to be boring smelly and wrong most of the time.

 

So strap on your phazers, polish your cane and wax your moustache because you’re in for the ride of life, and for the Queen’s sake remember to bring your top hat!

 

Christopher Dean

4.5/5

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